It’s no secret that artists have a special, if not divine, appreciation for the human form. Evidence of this is prevalent throughout documented art history, from the earliest cave drawings and forward through the many ages and stages of artistic development over the millennia. But Spencer Tunick goes to great lengths to show his appreciation for the human body—as many bodies as he can get to show up at his venues, bodies who are willing to shed their robes and jeans and undershorts and get naked.
His fight to stage his work has shown him the inside of a jail cell on five different occasions; his Constitutional claim under the First Amendment went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2000, where he (technically) won, but upon applying for his first permit to shoot on the streets of New York City, his application was rejected. That was the last time he bothered American soil with his genius, instead taking his efforts to places, let’s say, less inhibited.
Using thousands of volunteers—his record thus far for participants is 18,000 in Mexico City—Tunick organizes the naked folks into living sculptures, often with an underlying political overtones, the bodies sometimes swathed in dyes, other times reliant upon the natural pigment variation of their skin as the basis to relate his overall message. He does not discriminate on gender, age, or shape. He and his team of photo assistants use bullhorns and ladders to organize the masses, often finishing a shoot with cheers and congratulations all around.