article

07.01.09

The Madonna Nudes

Thirty years after a then-unknown 20-year-old model bared all, a new exhibition of photographs opens in London today. VIEW OUR GALLERY

Thirty years after a then-unknown 20-year-old model bared all, a new exhibition of photographs opens in London today. VIEW OUR (NSFW) GALLERY.

Touting itself as “The most intriguing, controversial and sexy art gallery in the U.K.,” Brighton’s Impure Art is an outlet for erotic art, or as stated on its Web site, “anything from nude to rude.” Starting today and running through July 19, Impure Art, in conjunction with London’s Seven Dials, is exhibiting its biggest thing since it opened its doors in May 2008: The Madonna Nudes.

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The works, which are being offered for sale at £3,400 a print, are exhibited to coincide with the London dates for her Sticky & Sweet tour. Posing for Martin M. H. Schreiber’s photography class at New York ‘s Parsons School of Design in 1979, when she was 20 years old and fresh to the city, Madonna was paid $30 to model nude.

In 1985, Schreiber discovered that his voluptuous young model had become a famous entertainer. He saw Madonna’s face on the cover of Interview magazine in January and some months later repeated on the cover of Time. Since that discovery, Schreiber has marketed his black-and-white prints, which are naïvely artistic and heavily voyeuristic, to anybody willing to pay.

Schreiber first contacted Penthouse, but eventually ended up publishing his Madonna nudes, along with photographer Lee Friedlander’s naked pictures of the then-struggling dancer, in the September 1985 issue of Playboy. In 1990, Taschen published Schreiber’s nude studies in a book, which has since been reprinted by other publishers.

Describing the pictures recently, Schreiber told the Guardian, “I was into the body as a sculptural form in those days. I'd bend or twist models to see what I could create. It was experimental.”

Plus: Check out Art Beast, for galleries, interviews with artists, and photos from the hottest parties.

Paul Laster is the editor of Artkrush.com, a contributing editor at Flavorpill.com and Art Asia Pacific, and a contributing writer at Time Out New York and Art in America.