New Male Nudes
Region: North America
Artist: Robert Sherer
Confronting Bodies: Barnwell County council members
Date of Action: 1995
Location: Barnwell, North Carolina, USA
Description of Artwork: New Male Nudes features oil paintings of nude males in poses traditionally reserved for female models. One image, Junior Executive Odalisque, shows an overwieght man in the same pose as the reclining female in Ingres' La Grand Odalisque.
The Incident: The director of the Barnwell County Museum (a public museum), Jennings Rountree, approved Sherer's work and scheduled his exhibit. Rountree informed the seven other board members and installed the paintings. In response to a complaint by councilwoman Anne Loadholt, the board members ordered the doors to the museum padlocked two days after the paintings were installed. Loadholt accused Rountree of misrepresenting the artworks by not telling the board that it contained nude images.
Results of Incident: The board allowed the exhibit to be shown by appointment only, however reversed this decision three days later and closed the exhibit completely. The ACLU filed a suit on behalf of Sherer's 1st Amendment rights. The curator of the museum resigned.
Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1996