Andy Golub has an ongoing project of body painting in public in Times Square, New York. On September 29, 2012 he was joined by Craig Tracy, who was in New York to receive a Unique Art Award for Bodypainting. Craig invited me to come and see the process, and Andy was gracious enough to let me join in with some of the finishing touches as they were completing the body. Then we hopped in a cab and headed uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the current Andy Warhol exhibit to photograph the painted model in juxtaposition with iconic works of art. The model is Trisha Benton, the photographer is Udor, the music is by The Meters (in homage to Craig’s home town) and I did the video.
Such a fun, beautiful New York day. I love the new Times Square plazas and have spent many hours sitting there at the little red tables. To be there making art with Andy and the world-famous Craig Tracy was such a gas. The day including an ongoing discussion of our various run-ins with censorship, and Andy’s public painting events are designed to generate such discussions. It made the news when one of his models was arrested in Times Square, and then even more news when she won her legal case (because New York has a very civilized law stating that women are legally allowed to be topless any where in public that a man would be allowed to take his shirt off.)
Bringing the painted model into one of the greatest art museums in the world is part of this discussion, because we all believe that bodypainting is a legitimate art form. As I have written about in this blog before, if I can paint an image of a fully naked body on a canvas and that is considered art suitable for a gallery or museum, then a fine art painting on a live naked body should be considered in the same context. Walking through the Met is itself an argument in support of this opinion, as that wonderful museum contains art of so many different types, of so many different media, that the definition of art has to be open enough to include a painted body. Our experience in the museum suggests that their overall policy and some of their staff may agree, because we were never kicked out — we did have to be somewhat clandestine: you’re not allowed to take any photos in some of the exhibits, the museum is a place where men can’t go topless either (so our model was legally supposed to keep her shirt on), and they understandably don’t want their museum used for any purpose other than to view the art — but we were never kicked out. Many of the museum guests were curious, some supportive and a few recognized Andy as the bodypainter in the news from Times square. Thank you, guys, for inviting me along.
- Is a painted body naked?
- Is A Painted Body Naked? – Pt. 2: Painting Clothing On vs. Painting On Clothing – Demi Moore Vanity Fair
- Men Getting Women Naked and Yves Klein — Female Nudity in Art
- The 2012 Unique Art Awards (thestorybehindthefaces.com)
- Craig Tracy’s Unbelievable Body-Painting Optical Illusions (odditycentral.com)