Miami Beach Gets a Nudist Museum

Ellen Harvey’s Nudist Museum doesn’t have any actual live nudes roaming the galleries. But it does feature the British-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s interpretation of every single work of art depicting a nude in the collection of Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art, where the project is currently being exhibited. Based on reproductions rather than originals, Harvey’s renderings of paintings, drawings, and sculptures from the collection point out the wide variety of ways that nudes have been portrayed in art — from the titillation of a naked nymph to the purity of a newborn child.

Harvey creatively cropped some subjects to focus on the nude in the appropriated works, and painted everything but the nude in monochromatic grays, while adding fleshy colors to drawings and sculptures that had none. Furthering the postmodernist gesture, she carried the gray background paints onto her found ornate frames — to let the viewer in on the game — and then hung her fifty-four works in three salon-style displays over wallpaper composed from an array of nudes that she gathered from the mass media. Juxtaposing the past with the present, Harvey constructs a clever installation that celebrates the role of collecting, while offering new meaning to an age-old genre of art.

Ellen Harvey: The Nudist Museum is on view at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach through November 7.

Click through below for a gallery of images.


Ellen Harvey: The Nudist Museum (installation detail), 2010. 54 paintings: oil on gesso board with used frames, Courtesy of the artist