No Real Nudity

Want to practice your life drawing skills? Here’s what the ad says: “Bare Talent. Come hone yours at the Museum, Thursday January 3 at the Life Drawing Studio.” Sounds fine, perfectly normal. Life drawing means rendering sketches of nude models, after all, hence the catchy phrase “Bare Talent.”

But here’s the kicker. The ad, from an art museum deep in the heart of the United States, ends with the caveat: “Don’t worry; there’s no real nudity.”


Cooking class! Don’t worry; there’s no real food. We’ll just use fake fruit and magazine ads.

Algebra tutoring! Don’t worry; there are no real integers. We’ll throw around some numbers and letters, but no one will suffer any math anxiety. Guaranteed!

Football practice! Don’t worry; there’s no actual exertion of energy. It’s all theoretical. No aggression, just lots of X’s and O’s on a chalkboard.
C’mon! How nudophobic can you get, when there’s not even “real” nudity at a life drawing class? And–most damning of all–when the museum staff feel compelled to assure their potential participants, “Don’t worry”? 
“Don’t fret now, folks, don’t get your undies in a bunch (although, geez, if you do, you better tough it out and keep those undies on); we’ll draw only from statues so that nobody could possibly be offended by the ordinary yet absolutely extraordinary sight of an actual unclothed human being who is holding still and not even moving around very much.”
I can only hope the museum’s extreme caution, probably meant to increase the number of attendees, yielded fewer participants instead of more.

4 thoughts on “No Real Nudity

  1. What, are you some sort of pervert to expect naked nude models at a life drawing studio? For God's sake, man, is sex the only thing you ever think about? 😉


  2. Or grape juice for the Eucharist.Up here in the Twin Cities we've got at least half a dozen life drawing co-ops in artist studios and folks parlors. Mine from home-to-home on Tuesday nights, sort of like a book club, but with sketch books and naked models. Some people can't draw too well, some are pretty remarkable.I guess some of my neighbors would be scandalized if they knew, but the ones I hang out with are pretty intrigued. I believe that what we do wouldn't have begun, had there not been a nudist movement. Most of my fellow artists are sixty-ish former art students, and my neighbor friends are educated blue collar, of the same generation. We came of age during the golden age of nudist magazines, and that tentative impulse toward body freedom.I haven't drawn much from sculpture, but it could be useful for a beginner. The damned things don't move, and some models can be pretty squirmy. Eventually you gotta move on to breathing, warm-blooded live folks with lives and stories, scars and rolls of fat, wise people and bullshitters, ones you can get a crush on or hope to never see their sorry ass again.The value of life drawing is pretty closely related to the value of nudism. It's a way of appreciating what we humans are.


  3. Thanks for your comments, Tom! I agree, and you certainly know whereof you speak!When I called the museum, the education director explained that the class that day had been an exception, and that the normal weekly classes are conducted with a nude model as has been the norm in Western art for centuries. Still, the museum's ad was either poorly written or deliberately ambiguous. Life drawing co-ops – what a great idea!


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