Fig Leaf: The Biggest Cover-Up in History – 12 July 2021 – 12/7/2021 – Monday – BBC Four

Writer and broadcaster Stephen Smith uncovers the secret history of the humble fig leaf, opening a window onto 2,000 years of western art and ethics.

He tells how the work of Michelangelo, known to his contemporaries as ‘the maker of pork things’, fuelled the infamous ‘fig leaf campaign’, the greatest cover-up in art history, how Bernini turned censorship into a new form of erotica by replacing the fig leaf with the slipping gauze, and how the ingenious machinations of Rodin brought nudity back to the public eye.

In telling this story, Smith turns many of our deepest prejudices upside down, showing how the Victorians had a far more sophisticated and mature attitude to sexuality than we do today. He ends with an impassioned plea for the widespread return of the fig leaf to redeem modern art from cheap sensation and innuendo.

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This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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