The sensuality of the nude is often confused with vulgarity.
No question, nudity is disquieting and artists use that to stimulate creativity and provoke response—that response might include emotions connected to love, passion, thoughts on the creation of mankind, or simply the beauty and complexity of being human.
Think about it. The Vatican does not drape the Sistine Chapel for Mass. It is understood that Michelangelo’s choice of using the unclothed human form was meant to celebrate the creation as well as uncover the vulnerability of man before God. And speaking of Michelangelo, did you know he risked his life to study anatomy? In his day, it was against the law to study the human from without permission from the Church. Penalty was death. Michelangelo did it both ways, sometimes with permission, sometimes without. He was never willing to compromise his art.
Today, life drawing is considered the foundation of most forms of art and required in almost all art schools. In drawing classes, the model usually sits as still as possible for 20 minutes or more while the artist or artists sketch. That’s not usually the case with photography. Most fine art photographers ask their models to move–sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly–the art is in catching how the muscles play in the light. Not always easy. Always fun.
Why nudes? There is no more compelling or complex subject. The fact that you have to answer that question only proves how complex.