Interview with Andy Golub: Artistic Nude or Downright Lewd?
Andy Golub’s Naked Body Painting – Artistic Nude or Downright Lewd?
Naked Body Painting – Body painting is one of our favorite things to do while naked, both at our indoor Nude Night Outs and at outdoor gatherings. It’s a playful combination of art, creativity and nudity and all you need is a brush (or your fingers) and some paint.
But some really take it the next level as a true art form, the body serving as the canvas and turning into a living, breathing work of art. This is what NYC artist Andy Golub does. In public. And in the most congested streets of New York! Andy has gotten a ton of press and caused quite a stir since his live naked body painting began in Times Square and took place in over 20 other public spaces. I got the chance to interview him about his art and experiences with the public and the police.
Andy got his start painting objects, then mannequins, then transitioned to painting bodies. “People have the extra added aspect of personality… and I always incorporate their personality into the painting as well,” he said. Then he started painting live in public so people could see the process. But his live work with topfree and fully nude models didn’t exactly blend into the crowd in Times Square. The first time he did it, he was kicked out.
Coming from a naturist’s point of view, I was most interested in hearing about the aspect of public art and nudity. How does the city and law enforcement react when they see live art with a lot of skin? (Yeah I’ve been down this road before.) How does Andy view nudity as an artist and in general?
Public nudity is actually legal in NYC when it’s part of a play, performance, exhibition or show. (Of course the question must arise, what constitutes a show?) Nevertheless, when one of Andy’s models removed her g-string rendering her completely nude in Times Square, officers were ready with their handcuffs. Andy himself has been arrested once, along with a few of his models for public lewdness. Charges were dropped, but a compromise remains: he is abiding by a rule to paint fully nude models only after the sun goes down. NYPD has been notified of this, and Andy doesn’t anticipate further trouble from them when he resumes his work outdoors.
As expected, there are people who think what Andy does is flat-out wrong, and though Andy respects their sense of morality, he also says many of them “are not able to see nudity without seeing sexuality. I don’t think what I’m doing is inappropriate, in fact I would even say what I’m doing is just the opposite because it’s allowing people to see nudity in a nonsexual way.” (Sound familiar?) He says people who do understand his work, see that it’s completely nonsexual. “It all comes down to shame,” he says, and trouble ensues when naked or semi-naked people don’t feel others’ sense of shame. All too true.
I remarked that it’s funny you can barely tell the models are naked at all when fully painted. Andy responded the controversy is not over what people see, but what they don’t see—a strap or line. Just knowing the model is nude is enough to create a buzz. Of course the matter of children seeing his work has come up as well. He states, “The whole concept that children need to be protected from it implies that it’s sexual in nature, that it’s a peep show. And I’m not doing a peep show, I’m doing art.”
Let me just share this last quote in which he describes his artwork:
“It’s a way for [the models] to accept themselves for who they are in their strengths and weaknesses and being comfortable in sharing that with other people, which is difficult. Most or all of the people that get painted have somewhat of a liberating experience…Me and the model connect with each other and we do it in full public view so people can connect with us. In a lot of people’s lives there’s a certain disconnect that is the result of technology and the way we communicate…Ultimately I believe my art is about human connection.”
Beautiful! You can see more of Andy’s artwork and press coverage on his website at andygolub.com
What do you guys think of his work? What do you think of the city’s response to it? If asked, would you ever participate in public nude body art as one of his models?
About the Author (Author Profile)Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
How come something blending together nudity and art can be considered lewd? The evil is in the mind of the beholder!
Andy Golub's work, which I've known for some years, is magnificent, not to mention brilliantly imaginative and very important. And this is a fine interview. The problem is still with the NYPD in its insistence that he do nude only at night. That indicates that the police still don't get it (and don't want to). Moreover, the fake "protection" of the time of day isn't even a good pretense. The sun sets earlyish in some parts of the year, even when it's warm enough outside. On February 20, 2002, an unseasonably warm day in NYC, I was with a photographer who took a photo of a nude model in Time Square. It wasn't really a big deal then. Now, ten years on, I encourage Andy and others to take this further. There's nothing wrong with painting nude men, either. Or, believe it or not, children. Although many may think that's a whole different discussion, it isn't. People need to check their false assumptions at the door, so to speak, and leave them there. The question of traffic and crowds is a real one, nonetheless. I don't have a solution; but the more this and similar activities are carried out, the fewer problems there should be. Or is that just too idealistic? Jerk Giuliani tried to banish Spencer Tunick and failed. Go, Andy!
Thank you Paul! I totally agree, the rule makes no sense. Times Square is so lit up it doesn't even get dark there at night. It also puts a limitation on him in that it needs to be hot day to be warm enough to paint at night. Andy told me he does paint men, too, which is great. People freak about penises so I think even painting a fully nude male at night would be somewhat controversial. Children, even more so! But you're right, it's not a different discussion really. Yeah "blocking traffic" is a typical charge when they've got nothing else to accuse you with. But then hopefully it's easily dropped. The more this kind of thing takes place, yes I would hope it would reduce the problems. I think it would. Cheers to Andy! :)
I think that is great. What is the different from a status or painting. All the parts are exposed. Yes I would participate. Keep up the good work Andy. That is true artwork.
Sometimes people have issues with nude statues and (inanimate) nude paintings, too, as silly as that is.