Origin-of-the-World Gustave Courbet, L'Origine du mode, 1866

The work is thought to have been commissioned by Turkish-Egyptian diplomat Khalil-Bey a flamboyant figure in Paris Society in the 1860s. It was Courbet and the first owner's ode to the female form. And of course, it did more than raise a few eyebrows. I mean, this was 1866!

Since it was painted, the work has been subjected to censorship. The reality behind Courbet's evocative work is that he was not concerned with depicting the body in an idealised way. However, the graphic nudity still shocks audiences today.

It has never been cleared up exactly what happened to the painting until it became part of the Musée d'Orsay collection in 1995.

Even up until 2011, indecency cases have been brought against the piece, including the most recent a nudity complaint on Facebook when the image was featured as a user's profile photo. Now that really is a sign of our times!

twyla-marc-dennis-out-of-this-world-9650b040147775c1fe563dea72932f48 Marc Dennis, Out of this World

What was remarkable about Courbet's work (besides the obvious) was the position it placed upon the viewer. Today, Courbet's daring piece continues to influence artists, both in terms of its subject matter, realism and voyeurism.

The work pictured above, entitled Out of this World, is by the hyper-realistic artist Marc Dennis who, like Courbet, celebrates the subversive potential of beauty, exploring notions of pleasure and decadence. Humanity is a major theme in his works, how humans are portrayed and how we, as humans, view each other.

twyla-chanel-kennebrew-menage-a-trois-on-mars-0a327325b7d5796c53cf3abb978a1345 Chanel Kennebrew, Menage a Trois on Mars

Another pivotal theme in Courbet's work was identity. The layers of identity in the piece are many, including the identity of the sitter, the identity of humankind (after all, he was making a bold statement in saying that female genitals are the core of all creation) and the identity of each other, our nude bodies equal us - no clothing to dictate how others see our class, culture or status.

Nudity and anonymity, at times, go hand in hand in art, as we can see in these contemporary works by Chanel Kennebrew and Noah Becker.

twyla-noah-becker-allegory-91898dac9fff1b02d42953ef6381b36f Noah Becker, ALLEGORY

Pamela Joseph, Censored Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 3) by Duchamp Pamela Joseph, Censored Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 3) by Duchamp

So what about censoring nudes? For centuries, and even still today, the human body in its most honest, rawest and realest form is one of the most censored subject matters when it comes to art and culture.

twyla-serkan-ozkaya-david-8e20e418223a642a335667af09562eea Serkan Özkaya, David

We say, when it comes to art, be loud and proud!

All contemporary works featured are available to purchase at Twyla, an online curated selection of contemporary artworks. Check out more here.

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