Fig leaf

DEFINITION

A stylized representation of a leaf from a fig tree or shrub used especially to conceal the genitalia depicted on sculptures of male nudes. Although fig leaves were originally deployed as a censoring gesture in favor of modesty, contemporary audiences, are increasingly more embarrassed by their continued use.A reference to fig leaves often connotes something that conceals or camouflages insufficiently.Examples:Apoxyomenos (Scraper), Roman copy of an original bronze by Lysippos, a Greek sculptor who worked c. 325 BCE, marble, height 82 inches, with fig leaf, Vatican. Apoxyomenos, a gymnast, is portrayed scraping dusty oil from his right arm with a tool called a strigil. Lysippos provided the foundation for Hellenistic sculpture. see thumbnail to rightThe sculpture photographed without fig leaf. See Hellenistic. After Leochares (Roman copy of a Greek work of c. 330 BCE), Apollo Belvedere, marble, height 7 feet 4 inches, Vatican Museum. This sculpture was found late in the fifteenth century, the fig leaf added later. Thumbnails here show the ruins of its pubic area see thumbnail to leftwith and withoutsee thumbnail to right a fig leaf. Here are photos of the entire sculpture, as "improved" by the addition of fig leaf and hands, and another with the fig leaf and hands not added.Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953), The Fig-Leaf, 1922, household paint on canvas, 200.0 x 160.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London. Picabia made The Fig-Leaf in protest at the rejection of two of his works from an important exhibition in Paris. To mock the conservatism of the organisers, he painted over a mechanical image of a turbine brake that had caused a scandal the previous year. His new design quoted the pose of a painting by Ingres titled Oedipus and the Sphinx, but included a fig-leaf (the French say "vine leaf") as a reference to censorship.Also see aidoion, censorship, erotica and erotic art, feminism and feminist art, First Amendment rights, gender issues, iconophobia, love, nude, obscene, pornography, ugly, sex, transgressive art, and voyeurism.

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