That Angry, Naked Guy is Art!

Since the last time I visited the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. a few years ago, which was the first time I’d been since I was maybe seven years old, one work of art has remained fixated in my mind and left within me a lasting, emotional impression.

Big Man, by Ron Mueck, is a larger-than-life sculpture of a round, hunched, naked, scowling man. In person, I found him to be breathtaking. He bears a look of tired frustration across his brow and jaw, and fleshy curves across his abdomen. His skin is wrinkled, dimpled, and splotched.

 

 

In stark contrast to how we idolize, sexualize, objectify, and emblazon women’s bodies throughout everyday life, and ubiquitously through print and visual media (looking at you, vendors at the Maryland Renaissance Festival this year, whose art featured erect nipples on every half-naked woman I saw), we showcase men’s naked bodies for two purposes: either to demonstrate power and inspire fear, if their muscles are toned and bulging; or to make us laugh, if they are not. Big Man does neither.

The more time I have spent naked — or, these days, clothed but wanting to be naked — the more I have come to appreciate the everyday beauty of the natural human form, in all its glory (…and folds). That’s why I found this piece uniquely refreshing. Big Man feels genuine, vulnerable, and relatable.

To the artist, thank you for bringing attention to the humility and mystique of the kind of body we overlook every day in our superficial quest for unachievable perfection.

10 comments

    1. What an honor; thank you so much!!! Admittedly, I have been bad about participating in award nominations since I started this blog, but it’s high time for me to change that. Much appreciated!

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  1. Very interesting piece. It does challenge the viewer to experience and observe nudity in a different way than one usually sees in society.

    Also, being nude oneself can give a certain sort of inspiration 🙂

    Wonder how that sculpture came about…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wondered that, myself. I forget where I found it, but somewhere online, I read an anecdote about the artist and model’s experience which inspired this piece. My understanding was that they were trying to achieve something different, and the model became frustrated during a break, and this was the pose he struck. It’s just so honest, you know?

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  2. Those that have wealth set the agenda. There is money to be made in sexualizing women.and presenting unrealistic idealization of the human body. More importantly it adds to people’s anxiety about themselves,making them ripe for manipulation. As you written about before, nude beaches actually de-sexualize human nakedness and in that manner make it more comfortable.. .

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  3. Reblogged this on When You've Been Abused and commented:
    When I first saw this photo I was a little grossed out, eww a naked man! However after reading the post I realized that if this was a female I wouldn’t feel that way because females are so highly sexualised.
    I found this art work really eye opening, in regards to how we perceive bodies.

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    1. That’s exactly how I felt when I first saw him! First, I thought he was grotesque. Then, I looked closer and realized what he actually had to offer. I was scared of the realness, not his nudity.

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