Obviously your best possible New York Valentine’s plan would include a Naked at the Met Scavenger Hunt. It’s a fun, flirty tour of sultry sirens, a literally bronzed Adonis, a medieval codpiece, an incontinent Cupid, and more of the Met’s vast collection of clothing-challenged art.
Even if you don’t join a hunt, exploring the Met with someone special is a great way to spend the most romantic day of the year (as certified by greeting-card companies and chocolate makers). If you go, be sure to scope out these seven pieces of nude art: Whether beautiful or weird, they’re some of our favorite pieces in the Met.
1. The Huntress of MSG
Found in the American Wing Courtyard, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ “Diana” represents the memory of one of the city’s most popular landmarks. Known as “Diana of the Tower,” two larger versions of this sculpture graced the tip of the original Madison Square Garden tower, as a weathervane. She has shrunk over the years: The first 18-foot version was too tall and replaced by a 13-foot version, while the Met’s “Diana” is a mere eight and a half feet tall. (Side note: The very first Diana of the Tower can be seen on our Naked at the Philadelphia Museum Scavenger Hunt.)
2. Not Just a Good-Lookin’ Guy in Egypt
Tucked away among Italian Decorative Arts, “Personification of the Nile” is a miniature reproduction of a massive sculpture at the Vatican. The 16 children represent the 16 cubits by which the Nile’s tide rose each year, and the cornucopia shows off the fertility of the Nile delta. “The Nile” looks awfully European for a river in Egypt, but one can’t take these things too literally, we suppose.
3. Sometimes a Naked Man Is Just a Naked Man
Lucian Freud, the grandson of Sigmund, spent his life painting humanity—and wouldn’t you know it, we come in all shapes and sizes. “Naked Man, Back View” arrives as advertised, depicting performance artist Leigh Bowery naked, from the back.
4. Flapjacks, Anyone?
Sometimes nudes are enormous goddesses or starkly realistic people, and other times they’re cute spatula-lookin’ things. An example of the classic akauba form in African art, this “Fertility Figure” might look funny but actually shows off an exaggerated ideal of beauty. Fun fact: The flattened forehead represents the actual process of gently molding and flattening an infant’s cranial bones. Super!
5. Gender Bender
Examining gender and sexuality might feel like a modern concept, but the nigh-400-year-old “Hermaphrodite” is a beautiful reminder that it’s all been done before. Let the New York Times discuss some of the allure of pieces like this one.
6. Cirque du So-Hey There, Handsome
There’s a lot going on in Paul Cadmus’ “Gilding the Acrobats,” and not just on the obvious level of dudes getting their gold on. Let’s just say this is one of the gayest, most erotic, most voyeuristic pieces in the entire museum, and you should definitely see it for yourself.
7. Winter Is Here
Wait, doesn’t nude usually mean unclothed? Sure, yes, but Houdon’s “Winter” is all the more evocative for the inclusion of the girl’s impressively inadequate shawl. Fun fact: Depictions of women being subjected to cold were so popular they earned their own term, frileuse.
Find More Fun, Naked or Otherwise
On the weekend closest to Valentine”s Day every year, you can join a Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt at a major museum in six cities around the country. To ask us about arranging a corporate scavenger hunt, contact us online.
Check out the rest of the blog for fun stuff—like eight truly bizarre pieces of nude art from around the world and three new or revamped corporate scavenger hunts in Seattle—and useful tips for planning private and corporate events.