Live

Watch CBSN Live

Naked City

Many people consider the Brooklyn Bridge to be a work of art all by itself, but imagine 40 naked people lying on it. Actually, you don't have to imagine it, because artist Spencer Tunick already has. CBS This Morning's Hattie Kauffman spoke with Tunick about his art and the stir it is causing in New York.


It's all in the name of art, and though the artist doesn't seem to have a problem getting large groups of people to pose naked in public, he does have a problem with the NYPD.

In April, Spencer Tunick was arrested as he prepared to photograph naked people in Times Square. This Sunday, he wants to photograph between 100 and 150 naked people in a downtown area of Manhattan, and once again the police are threatening to arrest him and his disrobed models.

Tunick describes the nudity in his photographs as "the purest form we're in, and it juxtaposes our vulnerability against the anonymity of public space." And in his catalog, he wrote that "the challenge of creating under pressure - and breaking past limitations imposed by regional mores - creates a dynamic tension between the bodies and the outside world."

Tunick has done this type of artwork in all 50 states. It was a five-month project that was part of a series of work that he points out is not sexual. "It's just a completely beautiful abstract formation," he says.

Unfortunately for him, the New York Police Department does not agree and it is charging him with unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.

Tunick says he would be willing to go to jail for his art, but he's trying to keep it from coming to that. His lawyer, Ron Kuby, plans to file a civil rights action suit in an effort to stop any interference from the police in the project.

The artist claims that he is not endangering people since he only shoots at around dawn, and his models are undressed only for a few minutes. He also says that the city is inconsistent in enforcing its policy on allowing nudity on the street for art and entertainment purposes.

"If Spielberg wanted to film naked aliens or make an Amistad film in New York, would they clothe the slaves, or would they stop the naked aliens?" he asks. "It's just me. I don't have a lot of money. They are coming down on me."

And as for his shoot on Sunday, he says, "They will not be touching. Everyone will be very quiet. They are going to be forming a beautiful river of pink and brown and tans. It will take two minutes to do."

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue