In the thousands of years of art making of which we are aware, there has never been a subject more frequently focused upon than that of the human nude. Also, there is not a subject more loaded, and, consequently, more open to interpretation and analysis. The nude carries with it a central place in imagination, its images project feelings of story, mythology and religious doctrine. It inspires attraction and fear, perceived as beautiful and at the same time naughty with a source of pleasure, evil and destruction. From the voluptuous Venus of Willendorf to Manet's defiantly sexual Olympia, the nude has proved a compelling subject and revealing manifestation of how we view our world and ourselves. .
"Woman is an important target for man, arousing his senses, awakening in him longings and desires and can enable his thought" (6 10). With this is mind it is important to look back in history as the effects of woman, especially nude, have made an important impact on artistic life and society as a whole. One of the oldest pieces of artwork that springs to mind is that of the so-called Venus of Willendorf. It has been dated between 30,000 and 25,000 BC. Apart from being female, this statue has enlarged stomach and breasts and its pubic area is greatly emphasized. There have been many attempts as to describe as to what the Paleolithic peoples may have been trying to say when they created this piece. Some say it is an item of procreativity and others say it could be some sort of good luck charm. So why did these people make such a piece? "Paleolithic pieces always portrayed people as completely naked, and the personification of femininity. Features of the female body are grossly exaggerated, and sex is clearly marked with the huge thighs as though in pregnancy" (6 7). This is the oldest ideal of feminine beauty. In works like the Venus of Willendorf, the "absence of man or attributes of his sex is conspicuous" (6 8).