Spencer Tunick: On Stealing Cameras, Controversy, and Kickstarter

Flanders 2 (Gaasbeek Castle, Belgium) 2011 © Spencer Tunick
Who doesn’t know Spencer Tunick? Over the past two decades, the artist has photographed more than 100,000 nudes of all ages and persuasions on all seven continents. His large-scale projects, which he calls installations, continuously gather the attention of the world press and sometimes change the lives of the liberated participants.
The subject of two HBO films — Naked States and Naked World — and one-time “Man of the Year” in Chile, Tunick has raised awareness of environmental issues, including the melting icecaps in Switzerland and the evaporation of the Dead Sea in Israel, while also having fun with naked bodies and props.


by Paul Laster | http://the99percent.com

Flanders 2 (Gaasbeek Castle, Belgium) 2011 © Spencer Tunick
Who doesn’t know Spencer Tunick? Over the past two decades, the artist has photographed more than 100,000 nudes of all ages and persuasions on all seven continents. His large-scale projects, which he calls installations, continuously gather the attention of the world press and sometimes change the lives of the liberated participants.
The subject of two HBO films — Naked States and Naked World — and one-time “Man of the Year” in Chile, Tunick has raised awareness of environmental issues, including the melting icecaps in Switzerland and the evaporation of the Dead Sea in Israel, while also having fun with naked bodies and props.
aurillac_550
Aurillac 1 (France) 2010 © Spencer Tunick
What was your motivation for first picking up a camera?
I’m a fourth generation photographer. My great grandfather was a photographer and owned the first Kodak photo finishing plant in downtown New York, where the World Trade Center was later located. My grandfather was a photographer for the United Nations Council on Foreign Relations, where he photographed Truman, Eisenhower, DeGaulle, Castro, Tito, JFK, and countless other diplomats and world leaders. And my dad had photo concessions in several Catskill Hotels in the 1960s and ‘70s — selling pictures of guests in keychain viewers. I often worked for him for free and when he retired at an early age, he gave me all of his cameras.
brugge_550
Brugge 1, 2005 © Spencer Tunick
How did you start photographing nudes in public places?
After attending Emerson College in Boston, I moved to a storefront in NY‘s East Village that I rented from the surf and music photographer Justin Jay. I took a one-year program at the International Center for Photography and became interested in photography that documented performance art and took some sculpture and painting classes at SVA. I couldn’t find myself so I realized that I would have to satisfy my dreams of people floating naked through the city at sunrise with photography.

I discovered George Holz, a commercial photographer who shot nudes that I liked, and decided to intern with him. I basically stole his camera, not literally, but I bought the same camera and lens that he used — a set-up that allowed the subject to be sharp and the background blown out of focus. You can have an idea, but you have to find the materials to manifest it — you have to buy the right canvas or clay. In my world I had to get the right camera to do what I wanted to do.

Sometime in 1990, I was walking down the street and saw a guy who looked absolutely amazing (he turned out to be Alistair Butler, a Robert Mapplethorpe model and Alvin Ailey dancer) and I said, “Trust me, even though I don’t have any pictures to show, I could take a wonderful photograph of you,” and he did. I photographed him on Wall Street, which was my first public nude image. Leer más “Spencer Tunick: On Stealing Cameras, Controversy, and Kickstarter”