Iggy Pop Bares More Than Abs in New Art Exhibition About Masculinity

Punk meets pencil in an art show that examines the portrayal of masculinity throughout the centuries

Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller Elena Olivo, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Lying pose)" by Charlotte Segall (American, born 1983). Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Sitting pose). Guno Park (Canadian, born South Korea 1979). Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Sitting pose)" by Robert Reid (Trinidadian, born 1960). Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Seated pose)" by Mauricio Rodriguez (American, born 1996. Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Seated pose, detail of face)" by Tobias Hall (American, born 1981). Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum
"Untitled (Standing pose)" by Levan Songulashvili (Georgian, born 1991). Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum

Punk rocker Iggy Pop is as synonymous for his writhing, bare chest as he is for his in-your-face music. But would you go to an art exhibition devoted solely to nude portraits of the mad musician? Now’s the perfect time to find out: As The Guardian’s Jim Farber reports, a new art exhibition in Brooklyn shows more of Pop’s person than you may ever have thought you’d see. 

The exhibition is called Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller, and it came about when the British conceptual artist invited James Osterberg, who’s better known by his stage name, to pose naked for a class of 22 artists. The Brooklyn Museum, which will run the exhibition from November 4 through March 26, 2017, calls the result “a performative event with Iggy Pop as model and subject.” 

On the museum’s website, curators note that the artists who drew Iggy Pop ranged from 19 to 80 years of age and had all kinds of education backgrounds and experience levels. “Iggy Pop has one of the most recognizable bodies in pop culture,” Deller explains, saying that it’s a body that has been “paraded, celebrated and scrutinized” over the years. 

And how: As lead singer of The Stooges, Pop is said to have originated the stage dive and spent years taunting audience members and singing in a frenzy, bare chest proudly on display. Though Pop has aged (he’s now 69), he hasn’t abandoned the shirtlessness that has come to define him. As Farber writes, “the form and fury of Iggy’s torso has become as recognized as Mick Jagger’s lips or Elvis Presley’s hips,” a symbol he puts in constant peril by interacting fearlessly with his audience.

Peril wasn’t exactly part of the equation when Pop took off his clothes and lay in front of a traditional figure drawing class, but that’s the point: By sitting, standing and lying down in the nude, Pop’s state of perpetual motion was arrested. The results bring new meaning to the term “life class”—especially, says Deller, because Pop has witnessed so much during his life and career. (Think: drug addiction and sobriety, the birth and death of multiple genres of music, and even a stint as an academically published classics scholar.) 

Want to explore Iggy’s form for yourself? Check out the drawings, which will be exhibited alongside other works that depict the male body in an examination of how the portrayal of masculinity has morphed over time. Whether you’re weirded out by the sight of a music icon without any clothes or fascinated by a man of perpetual motion forced to hit pause by art, it’s sure to be one of this year’s most talked-about events. 

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