Jeremy Deller Discusses His Brooklyn Museum Exhibit of 107 Naked Iggy Pops Drawn By a Class — for Which Iggy Pop Himself Posed


On February 21, 2016, Iggy Pop posed naked for four hours for a life drawing class at the New York Academy of Art, held by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller and led by artist/professor Michael Grimaldi. The results of that class — attended by 22 artists between 19 and 80 years old — will be exhibited starting next month at the Brooklyn Museum. Deller recently spoke to the Guardian about his inspiration for the show — and about Iggy Pop’s responsiveness to the subject, which was, essentially, Iggy Pop’s body. Oh, and it was also, per the Brooklyn Museum’s website, a way to “depict the male body, examining shifting representations of masculinity throughout history.” (The Brooklyn Museum, who not long ago hosted an exhibit about high heels, is wont to coat pop-cultural shows in an air of conceptual importance, or at least to bank on pop culture, as so many museums do now, as a means of getting people to see art; of course, the delineations between high art and pop cultural aesthetics — largely because of shows like this — grows ever narrower and more irrelevant.)

Deller told the Guardian that Iggy Pop “plays his body. The way he manipulates it, damages it, bends it and flaunts it has become his way of communicating. His body interprets the music but it’s also playing its own tune…There are hundreds of thousands of photographs of him, but very few drawings.” He explains that he “thought his body deserves to be looked at differently, to be taken more seriously, in a way that would connect him to art history.”

The article — and the official description of the exhibit on the Brooklyn Museum website — say that the Iggys will be juxtaposed with pieces from the museum’s collection, from ancient Egyptian sculptures to Robert Mapplethorpe photographs.

Iggy Pop explains in the book accompanying the exhibit that 10 years ago, when he was first asked by Deller to do a similar by project, he wasn’t feeling it. But:

Now I feel like a lot has happened with and to my body. For some reason, it felt important for me to just stand naked for a group of human beings and have an exchange.

The Guardian article also features interviews with assorted artists involved, who Deller picked through recommendations from arts instructors around the city, with the intent of representing an array of levels of technical skill.

You may want to interpret this as a study of shapeshifting masculinity or a pure study of the way Iggy Pop’s buttocks morph between artistic subjectivities or, more likely, a study of how awkward you feel trying to pretend that you’re focusing on the artfulness of the renderings of Iggy Pop’s buttocks rather than, simply, the fact that you’re being confronted by the odd juxtaposition of seeing celebrity nudes in a space otherwise affiliated with reverence and contemplation (well, and Target-branded Saturday parties!), trying to externally balance your desire to look interested in art with the inevitable appeals to pop cultural celebrity fetishism this also entails. Regardless, all 107 versions of Iggy Pop, and all of your own awkward, shifting interpretations of them, will be on display beginning November 4, and running through March 26, 2017.