U nsurprisingly, art’s most traditional subject, the nude, is also one of its most controversial. From Michelangelo’s David to Robert Mapplethorpe’s erotic photographs, works of art featuring unclad human figures have reliably captured our attention. For more than two decades, the New York Academy of Art has playfully acknowledged that fact with its annual Take Home a Nude gala and benefit auction. “As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words,” says academy president David Kratz. The 11 October event, hosted by Sotheby’s, will honour painter John Alexander.
Current and former students along with such artists as Ryan McGinness, Philip Pearlstein and Spencer Tunick are contributing nudes, but the auction also offers works with other subjects and in varied styles, which all reflect the academy’s dedication to rigorous formal training. “We want to show a range of our artists’ points of view,” says Kratz, noting the inclusion of text-driven works and neon sculpture alongside figurative paintings and drawings. While the graduate programme is grounded in tradition, “we look for artists whose work is very much part of the current dialogue,” says Kratz.
For Amy Cappellazzo, head of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division and this year’s event chairperson, “the essential foundations of art-making that the academy teaches have never been more urgent. Sotheby’s has long supported the academy and its vital work,” she says. “We are more excited than ever to collaborate.” For the academy, the gala is “an opportunity to show our best work at one of the most prestigious venues in the world,” says Kratz. “And it’s high-energy fun – what could be better?”
Click here for a Sneak Peak of Highlights from the Take Home A Nude Auction.