Huffpost Arts

32 Famous Artworks That Prove The Beauty Of Female Body Hair (NSFW)

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FRIDA

There's an old art historical legend that artist and thinker John Ruskin passed out on his wedding night after seeing his wife's pubic hair for the first time. It turns out Victorian artworks and Cosmopolitan magazine had similar predilections for female grooming habits.

That's the funny (and oh-so frustrating) thing about the art world. Despite giving off the impression of being a radical, freewheeling utopia steps ahead of the uncreative world at large, the art world is, all too often, actually behind the curve when it comes to personal freedoms. For example, it's really white, male dominated, and is obsessed with normative representations of the female nude. Come on, artists of yore, where's the hair?

To press our point, allow us to direct your attention to a recent commotion at London's Mall Gallery, where a portrait of a tattooed woman revealing a strip of pubic hair was deemed "too pornographic and disgusting," and promptly removed. The work, Leena McCall's "Portrait of Ms. Ruby May, Standing," was replaced by a completely nude, completely hairless, nude portrait, Gawker reported.

Although many of the halls of art history have undergone a collective wax, there are still plenty of artists who, throughout the years, have represented female bodies with the hair they were born with. From oldies but goodies by Henri Matisse and Gustave Courbet to the more recent stylings of Wangechi Mutu and Dorothy Iannone, these are the artworks that inspire us to put down the razor and embrace the wildness within. Behold, the best brows, bushes and pits art history has to offer. If it wasn't obvious, it's all so very NSFW!

  • Not the story of why I decided to grow out my armpits again...
    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, In Bed, 1892
  • There's no razors in Eden -- obviously.
    Heinrich Aldegrever, Eve, 1540.
  • My pit hairs are up here.
    Henri Matisse, Odalisque with Arms Raised, (of Henriette Darricarrière), 1923, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  • Birds flock to my bush, NBD.
    Wangechi Mutu, The Storm Has Finally Made It Out Of Me Alhamdulillah, 2012. Mixed media collage on linoleum, 73" H x 114" W x 4" D. Image courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vilemetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.
  • Power to the pubic hairs!
    Dorothy Iannone, The Next Great Moment In History Is Ours, 1970, Courtesy die Künstlerin, Air de Paris, Paris, und Peres Projects, Berlin, Foto: Joachim Littkemann
  • Now that I have your attention...
    Egon Schiele, Sitting girl, 1917
  • I don't like to get them wet...
    Gustave Courbet, The Bather, 1868, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Look into my crystal ball, not my bush.
    Wangechi Mutu, The Original Nine Daughters (detail), 2012. Series of 9 etchings, Paper size 19 x10 inches each, image size 15 x 7 inches. Edition of 30 + 11 APs. Couortesy of the Artist and Pace Editions, Inc.
  • What, is there something on my brows?
    JOHN MACDOUGALL via Getty Images
    A photographer takes pictures of the painting 'Self-Portrait as Tehuana or Diego on My Mind' by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo during a press preview on April 29, 2010 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin. From April 30 to August 9, 2010, the museum presents a retrospective on the important painter known for her self-portraits often depicting her own pain. AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • I see you like my new 'do.
    Shunga by Hokusai
  • Hair is best kept unkempt.
    Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Torso Before The Bath, 1875
  • Are the knee socks a bit much?
    Vincent van Gogh, Nude Woman Reclining January-February 1887, Paris Oil on canvas, 24 x 41 cm. Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo
  • Frida's an artist? I just idolize her facial hair.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A photographic self-portrait of Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura dressed as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, hangs in the Institute of Contemporary Art, Thursday, March 25, 2004, in Boston. The piece, titled "An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Hand-shaped Earring), 2001" is part of the exhibit "Made in Mexico," which is scheduled to run through May 9, 2004. (AP Photo/Angela Rowlings)
  • 'Big bushes in front, small bushes in back...'
    Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali, "In Voluptas Mors," 1951. Photo credit Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos
  • I always leave some pit hair to the imagination...
    Egon Schiele, Reclining Semi Nude with Red Hat, 1910
  • I feel good, thanks for asking!
    Dorothy Iannone, aus: Dialogues (unnumbered), 1968, Sammlung Andersch, Neuss, © Dorothy Iannone, Foto: Markus Hawlik, Berlin
  • Sorry, what is this "Nair" you speak of?
    Amedeo Modigliani, Red Nude, 1917
  • Hair where? Hair everywhere.
    Wangechi Mutu, The Original Nine Daughters (detail), 2012. Series of 9 etchings, Paper size 19 x10 inches each, image size 15 x 7 inches. Edition of 30 + 11 APs. Couortesy of the Artist and Pace Editions, Inc.
  • Yup, you came from here.
    Gustave Courbet, The Origin of the World (L'Origine du monde), 1866, Paris: Musée d'Orsay
  • Tan lines? Good. Bush? Better.
    Chuck Close, Laura I, 1984, color Polaroids mounted on aluminum, 97" x 215" (243.8 cm x 546.1 cm), overall installed, 97" x 43" (243.8 cm x 109.2 cm), five panels, each. Photos via Pace Gallery.
  • Brows are beautiful, folks.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, a painting by Frida Kahlo (The Frame, 1938) is seen as part of one of two new exhibits featuring art exclusively by women at the Seattle Art Museum, in Seattle. Included in the exhibition is the only U.S. stop for an exhibit from the Pompidou Center in Paris, home of the modern art museum there, of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and video. The exhibit runs through Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
  • I call it my 5 o'clock shadow...
    Daniel Maidman, Blue Leah #7, 2012, oil on canvas, 24"x36. Photo credit Daniel Maidman
  • [Octopus language]
    The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, Hokusai, 1814
  • I'll do the dapper thing, but the brows stay.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This Feb. 8, 2013 photo shows Frida Kahlo's 1942 "Self Portrait with Cropped Hair" part of the exhibition featuring the works of Kahlo and Diego Rivera, "Frida & Diego: Passion Politics and Painting," at the High Museum in Atlanta. The exhibit features more than 140 works, making it the largest exhibition of the couple's art ever displayed together. Atlanta’s High will be the only U.S. venue for the exhibition, which opens Feb. 14 and runs through May 12. . (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Naked and nude are two different things, no?
    Amedeo Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion, 1917
  • Mickalene: 1. Gustave: 0
    Mickalene Thomas, Origin of the Universe 1, 2012 Rhinestones, acrylic, oil and enamel on wood panel
  • Mind the sails!
    Gustave Courbet, Nude Reclining by the Sea
  • Some day American Apparel will steal this look.
    Egon Schiele, Reclining nude, 1910
  • I saw a lot of other nude models rocking the socks and bush thing so...
    Van Gogh, Nude Woman on a Bed, 1887
  • You know how birds liked the bush? Yeah, hummingbirds too.
    Wengechi Mutu, All the way up, all the way out, 2012. Collage and mixed media on linoleum, 74 x 50 3/8 inches. Image courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vilemetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.
  • I thought we were doing this BFF shoot naked?
    Gustav Klimt, Girlfriends or Two Women Friends, 1916–17, (Galerie Welz, Salzburg, later destroyed)
  • Thank you for the flowers but I asked for deodorant.
    Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863