Some of us were privileged to attend a private viewing of an exhibition, The Renaissance Nude organised by the J Paul Getty Museum in association with the Royal Academy of Arts. The latter housed the chosen works of Renaissance masters (and mistresses) within its Burlington House headquarters in London. But there was a difference; everyone who attended the exhibition were themselves naked.
I have visited the RA in London many times over the last 35 years: but usually to attend their Summer Exhibition. This annual event has been one of the highlights of the artistic year in England now for over 250 years. The grand courtyard entrance, marble foyer and steps to the galleries are as familiar as my own home, but then step into that space without clothing then the feeling is unsettling and dreamlike. Yes, indeed, it was like that anxiety dream we all have.
My fellow Naturists drifted up the steps, past the friendly but nevertheless frozen faced security staff on our way to the main gallery. As we entered the subdued lighted rooms, the purpose of our visit began. Which was what exactly?
On the surface, it must have seemed like a bit of a wheeze for the gallery. “Let’s put on a show about how nudes were portrayed in the 15th and 16th Centuries and then get a bunch of 21st Century nude people to look at the art works.” And for the Naturists themselves? Well, any opportunity to get naked and promote naturism as a reasonable and mainstream activity is always welcomed. But then we have the obvious problem: what connection is there really between the two? It might just as well have been an exhibition of steam engines. We might all have been dressed as Firemen.
Original publication May 7, 2019
Posted on NatCorn 13th May 2019