Here’s a really interesting piece on why Michelangelo’s female figures appear so masculine to modern day audiences. Although many believe Michelangelo’s figures were influenced by his sexuality or the availability of female models, Jill Burke explains why this is not the case. See part two here: http://renresearch.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/men-with-breasts2/

Jill Burke's Blog

Michelangelo NightWhen I give a talk, or run a class that includes work by Michelangelo, generally at some point someone will suggest that Michelangelo’s female figures look like “men with breasts”. I have to admit, that I sometimes deliberately task students with describing a picture of Michelangelo’s Night (right) just so I can elicit this reaction – it’s a really useful starting point for discussing ideas about what we expect men and women’s bodies to look like, whether renaissance art is naturalistic, differing ideals of beauty and so on. Because this has happened so frequently, my title for yesterday’s masterclass at Glasgow uni was “Men With Breasts: Michelangelo’s Female Nudes and the Historical Context for Body Image”.

An explanation that people often given for the Michelangelo men-with-breasts phenomenon – which we should properly call the aesthetic of androgyny – is that they couldn’t get female nude models in the Renaissance, so…

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