Seen from Behind Perspectives on the Male Body and Renaissance Art Patricia Lee Rubin

Publication date:
13 Nov 2018
Yale University Press
288 pages: 279 x 216mm
263 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Renaissance bodies, dressed and undressed, have not lacked attention in art historical literature, but scholarship on the male body has generally concentrated on phallic-oriented masculinity and been connected to issues of patriarchy and power. This original book examines the range of meaning that has been attached to the male backside in Renaissance art and culture, the transformation of the base connotation of the image to high art, and the question of homoerotic impulses or implications of admiring male figures from behind. Representations of the male body’s behind have often been associated with things obscene, carnivalesque, comical, or villainous. Presenting serious scholarship with a deft hand, Seen from Behind expands our understanding of the motif of the male buttocks in Renaissance art, revealing both continuities and changes in the ways the images convey meaning and have been given meaning.

Patricia Lee Rubin is professor of Renaissance art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

“Rubin’s writing is super fruity” — James Hall, The Art Newspaper

“Rubin offers many valuable insights on what Lucian Freud called the 'emotional vocabulary' of the naked body and the resonance and recurrence of postures: hands on hips, legs astride or prone with the buttocks raised [. . .] She has opened up a wonderful subject” —Alan Hollinghurst, Literary Review

“Although the text is remarkably playful [. . .], its rhetorical lightness is paired with substantial argument” —Sarah Betzer Burlington Magazine