Spencer Tunick (born January 1, 1967) is an famous American artist. He is best known for his installations that feature large numbers of nude people posed in artistic formations. These installations are often situated in urban locations throughout the world, although he has also has done some “Beyond The City” woodland and beach installations and still does individuals and small groups occasionally. One of the most famous of these sessions was to protest against global warming, and was attended by activists from Greenpeace. Tunick is the subject of three HBO documentaries, Naked States, Naked World, and Positively Naked. His models are volunteers who receive a limited edition photo as a reward.
Tunick was born in the United States in Middletown, Orange County, New York.
In 1986, he visited London, where he took photographs of a nude at a bus stop and of scores of nudes in Alleyn’s School’s Lower School Hall in Dulwich, Southwark. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Emerson College in 1988.
In 1992, Tunick began documenting live nudes in public locations in New York through video and photographs. His early works from this period focus more on a single nude individual or on small groups of nudes. These works are much more intimate images than the massive installations for which he is now known. By 1994 Tunick had organized and photographed over 65 temporary site related installations in the United States and abroad. Since then, he has taken his celebration of the nude form internationally, and has taken photos in cities that include Cork, Dublin, Bruges, Buenos Aires, Buffalo, Lisbon, London, Lyon, Melbourne, Montreal, Rome, San Sebastián, São Paulo, Caracas, Newcastle/Gateshead, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Helsinki, Santiago, Mexico City, and Amsterdam. In August 1997, Tunick photographed a large group of nudes at The Great Went, a festival hosted by Phish in Limestone, Maine.
In June 2003, Tunick photographed 7,000 naked people in Barcelona. On June 26, 2004, he completed his largest installation in the United States in Cleveland, Ohio, with 2,754 people posing. In August 2004, a photo shoot was completed in Buffalo of about 1,800 nudes in Buffalo’s old central train station. On July 17, 2005 he photographed almost 1,700 nudes on the quaysides at Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. On September 11, 2005, he shot 1,493 nudes in Lyon on the Rhône quaysides and footbridge resp. between containers. On March 19, 2006, Tunick photographed 1,500 nudes in Caracas, having people standing up, lying down, and on their knees beside the main Simon Bolivar statue.
On May 6, 2007, approximately 18,000 people posed for Tunick in Mexico City’s principal square, the Zócalo, setting a new record, and more than doubling the previous highest number of 7,000 people who had turned out in Barcelona in 2003. Male and female volunteers of different ages stood and saluted, lay down on the ground, crouched in the fetal position, and otherwise posed for Tunick’s lens in the city’s massive central plaza, the Plaza de la Constitución. Here, the specific problems of photographing great numbers of people outside became clear: as Tunick could only shoot from buildings located west of the square (the three other sides of the square are government buildings and the cathedral), there was a rush to take the pictures before dawn to avoid getting sunflare in the lens.
In 2007 Spencer Tunick was commissioned by the Dream Amsterdam Foundation to realize art projects for the artistic event Dream Amsterdam. On April 15, 2007, Tunick realized an installation in a tulip field in Schermerhorn. On June 3, 2007, he made installations with 2000 participants in Amsterdam. Tunick’s first installation with 2000 people was in a car park; the following installations were with 250 men at a nearby gas station and 250 women on bicycles on the Lijnbaansgracht – Lauriergracht. Tunick’s final installation was made with a small selected group of participants on a canal called Leliegracht. For this installation a special bridge construction was made to create the illusion that the people were floating over the water.
His subjects rarely smile or smoulder, and there are so many bodies squeezed together that it’s hard for any single one to exert any sexual power on the viewer.
“I’m trying to create flesh architecture,” Tunick says in his fifth-floor studio in north Tribeca, the downtown area of New York thick with converted warehouses like this one. “I aim to get a sculptural feel for groups of bodies, as well as create performance art.”
“On my website, you can apply to be a model, and you give your skin tone on a colour chart,” he says, as he clicks open a page on his computer showing seven boxes ranging from stark white, through baby-powder pink, to dark chocolate. “I can then play off your flesh tone against the other end of the spectrum, or group you with people of the same colour.
Official site: www.spencertunick.com