Two years ago, almost to the day, the Leopold Museum in Vienna opened its doors to a group of nude men for a preview of a new exhibition. Naked men, very appropriately, were the first members of the public to see the gallery’s Nackte Männer or Naked Men art show.
I posted some material about the Viennese exhibit and called my post Bare Your ASS To See Nuda ARS! Cute, wasn’t it?
Nude. Art. Tours. At first, the trend of ogling masterpieces in the buff seems like a cleverly planned gimmick — a promotional ploy aimed at upping the ante of arts coverage across the internet. As if it needs explanation, the practice involves hordes of nude patrons gazing upon a museum’s offerings sans clothing. The tours usually take place after hours, when the “skyclad” spectators — that’s the official modifier for nude art tour enthusiasts — can soak up masterpieces without the prying eyes of more puritanical admirers. You know, the ones who insist upon wearing clothing.
“Naked, our whole body experiences color,” says artist Stuart Ringholt. “We no longer just look at it, but now have the capacity to feel it also. We can let it wash over us, feel its vibration.”
Stuart Ringholt is currently hosting nude art tours at Australia’s National Gallery of Art in Canberra, the most recent museum to hop aboard the nude art tour train. In conjunction with its exhibition, “James Turrell: A Retrospective,” the NGA recruited Melbourne-based Ringholt to host three 50-person nude tours of the show. Apparently to no one’s surprise all of the naked tours, hosted in April, sold out within one day of releasing tickets.
Ringholt is no stranger to the naked art viewing practice. He’s led several nude art tours around Australia. Turrell is an American artist, known for works that manipulate light and space as his preferred media, and creates work that’s, according to Ringholt, better viewed without clothing.
According to Ringholt, “Nudity frees the spirit. It promotes positive body image and is an opportunity to accept one’s body, not despise it. It is educational. Education through feeling. We consider the notion we are less sexualized with our clothes off than on. Clothing engages the imagination and sparks the lust drive. Without the material registers of clothing the nude body desexualizes. Being nude is fun and promotes happiness. Whenever we are nude, whether it is taking a bath, skinny dipping in the ocean or making love we are generally at our happiest.
It is against the law in Australia to be naked in public and there are few opportunities to partake in cultural experiences naked. These events say to marginalized naturist groups, we accept you and we want you at our gallery. A major motivation for doing the first nude tours of an art gallery was to allow this artist to celebrate the success of another. Artists are very competitive and researching other artists with the goal of talking on them is welcome respite.