The Canadian Art Council Art Bank has many all-but-forgotten nudes, unclothed or naked pieces of art. That changed this spring when THEMUSEUM, in Kitchener, Ontario, revealed its 100+ piece exhibit, Getting Naked, to the public.
“We have 17,000 works of art by Canadian artists at the Art Bank, but for a number of reasons the small collection of nudes do not get rented out to boardrooms or office spaces. My goal was to see the works displayed, but no one has had the courage to show the works until David Marskell of THEMUSEUM enthusiastically agreed,” says Victoria Henry, Canadian Art Bank Director.
The collection, which includes approximately 15 photographs ranging from the 1950s to the late 1990s, is wildly disparate, but has only one message, medium, or theme tying them together. Nudity. Not pornography, though some are erotic. Not gratuitous, though some are challenging. They are provocative and evocative, joyful and heartbreaking, breathtaking and hilarious, wry and fascinating.
“Since its rebranding and evolution over the last several years, THEMUSEUM has made its mark in establishing itself as an organization that is not afraid to make bold choices,” says Virginia Eichhorn, Getting Naked Curator.
Many of the artists are recognized Canadian icons, well-known for other works, however the nudes have remained rarely seen. “From the hyper-sexualized voyeur viewpoints, depicted by Dennis Burton, to the historic referential evocations of Frank Mulvey; situating the nude as a site of liberation as per Joyce Weiland or of defiance when used by Donigan Cumming or Evergon; the dynamic, dark and sensual artworks presented by Diana Thorneycroft; or simply as form or shape in and of itself as demonstrated through the work of Greg Payce and Evan Penny – Getting Naked evokes the continued fascination that artists have had with the human form, for as long as art has existed,” Eichhorn says.
“This is a rare opportunity to not only see these incredible works of art but also have a conversation about why Canadian culture [shies] away from nudity,” says David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “As Canadian citizens, we own these works of art but until now there hasn’t been an opportunity to view them all at once. THEMUSEUM is going to pair the exhibit with discussion around nudity and culture. We want this exhibit to inspire discussion.”
The exhibition is on view until May 31, 2015.