10 Artistic Nudes In Films

Few people could name 10 artistic nudes in films. For many years, nude scenes in movies were completely forbidden. In the 1960s, these rules were finally relaxed by filmmakers’ insistence that nude scenes were “artistic.” In modern times, many films with nude scenes are stretching the definition of “artistic,” to put it mildly. But the nude scenes in these 10 films really are all about art.

  1. “Sirens.” Hugh Grant, in one of his first major roles, is an Anglican priest sent to monitor a scandalous artist in 1940s Australia. The priest and his wife soon find themselves seduced, figuratively and otherwise, by the artist’s libertine ways and sensuous nude models. Elle MacPherson and Portia de Rossi made their film debuts as the models. 

  2. “Frida.” In art, “nude” doesn’t always equal “sexy.” For Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, her art often represented her chronic pain. Director Julie Taymor’s biopic of Frida’s life includes a rare nude scene by Salma Hayek. Hayek is one of the sexiest women ever, but this scene, after the bus crash that broke Frida’s back, is only about pain. 

  3. “Backbeat.” On the other hand, Sheryl Lee’s nude scene in this 1994 film is both artistic and sexy. Lee is Astrid, the lover of Stu Sutcliffe, who played bass for the Beatles back when they were still a Hamburg cover band. A body-painting exercise by artists Astrid and Stu soon blurs the line between art, nudity and sex. 

  4. “Dirty Pictures.” Artists can get into trouble when outsiders don’t understand the distinction between sex and art. In this 2000 film, James Woods is an art museum director who causes controversy by exhibiting the nudes of acclaimed gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The film allows viewers to make up their own minds by showing the actual Mapplethorpe photos that inspired this true story. 

  5. “Across the Universe.” Julie Taymor’s psychedelic Beatles musical tells the story of young lovers against the backdrop of art and war in the 1960s. Evan Rachel Wood poses for her lover, Jim Sturgess. When she jokingly criticizes the nude drawing, he asks for another chance to get it right.

  6. “Art School Confidential.” Young art student Max Minghella falls for beautiful Sophia Miles, the nude model in his life studies class. When she rejects him, he concocts a lunatic scheme to win her attention. Some people will do anything for art, fame or love. 

  7. “Titanic.” James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster hardly needs an introduction. But after all the shouting about the cutting-edge special effects, the multiple Oscars and the record-breaking box office, perhaps you forgot the element that sets the story in motion: a nude drawing of Kate Winslet’s Rose. After all is said and done, the story is really about how that drawing came to be.

  8. “3some.” In this 2009 Spanish film, art student Maria forms an unlikely bond with classmates Jaime and Marcos. Nude drawings are only one aspect of their relationship, which grows more convoluted the more they become involved. Soon they are sharing more than just a bed.

  9. “Stripped: Greg Friedler's Naked Las Vegas.” Friedler is a photographer, but while his nudes are definitely artistic, they aren’t posed. Instead, he asks random people to simply stand in front of his camera, first clothed, then nude. This 2010 documentary shows how Friedler’s simple process can reveal the surprising depths of his ordinary subjects. 

  10. “Naked World.” While Friedler goes for an intimate one-on-one approach, photographer Spencer Tunick approaches nudes on a grand scale. With 500 or 1000 people lying nude before his camera, the images become surreal, beautiful landscapes. In the film’s finale, New York’s Grand Central Station is transformed by Tunick’s unique artistic vision.

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