Nudity in Art and Your Students

You will find many images in the Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper exhibition that feature the nude body. This can sometimes present a challenge in the classroom or galleries with students, but don’t let that deter you from showing your students work in the exhibition. Use the tips below to get past the giggles and look more closely at the works of art.

A note: Ultimately, it is up to you to decide your school community’s comfort level with nudity. Know that there are also many landscapes and portraits featured in the exhibition that you may choose to focus on instead.

If students get the giggles in front of a work of art that has a nude figure, whether in the classroom or galleries:

  • Explain that it is important for artists to understand what is underneath our clothes in order to realistically re-create how fabric appears on the body. Artists believe the human body is a beautiful thing. For these reasons, artists often show people who are nude in their works of art.
  • Allow students to talk about it. Ask what they are focusing on, and offer to have a discussion around it. When they see that you are comfortable discussing nudity, they may be less interested in doing so themselves. That said, should a discussion about nudity start, see where it takes you: it can be an illuminating entry point to explore the piece.
  • Ask students to write down any funny comments to share later, especially if they become disruptive. They can get the giggles or inappropriate comments out of their system so that you can continue. They can share the comments with you after class or after your Museum visit. (Thanks to The smARTteacher for this tip.)