Naked ambition: when the Greeks first stripped off
The oddity of ancient sculpture often escapes us. A male nude, a Greek statue, has become very familiar over the past 2,500 years: it is what we expect of ancient statuary, that it show off its muscles. At times it can seem overly familiar, a bit tacky or tawdry or maybe just banal, evoking the withdrawing room of an aesthete of the 1890s, a gay sauna in the 1970s or the yard at the back of a modern garden centre alongside the blue-glazed planters and bird baths.
The Uffizi in Florence was once most famous for its collection of classical sculptures, but who now spends much time looking at them as they barge past to the Botticellis? If you find the crowds around the Hieronymus Bosches too much in the Prado, seek out the cul-de-sac where … Continue Reading (9 minute read)