It was a central preoccupation of Ancient Greek art, and after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position in Western art with the Renaissance.
Athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos.
Christian attitudes cast doubt on the value of the human body, and the Christian emphasis on chastity and celibacy further discouraged depictions of nakedness, even in the few surviving Early Medieval survivals of secular art.
Completely unclothed figures are rare in medieval art, the notable exceptions being Adam and Eve and the damned in Last Judgement scenes, and the ideal forms of Greco-Roman nudes are completely lost, transformed into symbols of shame and sin, weakness and defenselessness.
The first realistic sculptures of nude males, the kouroi depict nude youths who stand rigidly posed with one foot forward.
By the 5th century BCE, Greek sculptors' mastery of anatomy resulted in greater naturalness and more varied poses.
Michelangelo's suspiciously boyish Study of a Kneeling Nude Girl for The Entombment (Louvre, c.