The women crossed their arms to keep warm in the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal early Sunday as they prepared to pose for Spencer Tunick’s latest human art installation. All 450 of them were nude.
“I love his art and I think he’s creating an amazing thing — something different, something fresh,” said Anna Springer, 30, a real estate executive.
Tunick, a New York-based artist, has gained an international reputation for his arrangements of nude art installations involving hundreds of people in cities around the world. He’s also been arrested several times in New York for previous projects.
For his latest, he said, he first sought permission to use the New York Public Library and the Museum of Natural History but was rebuffed by both.
“I wanted to bring the most beautiful people into the most beautiful building,” he said Sunday inside the Grand Central concourse.
The women, all volunteers, arrived at about 3 a.m. Sunday, stripped off their clothes and composed their bodies into sculptural shapes and formations meant to imitate streets, buildings and cityscapes. The building had been closed to the public during the shoot.
Tunick took photographs from a stairway in the concourse. He shouted instructions through a megaphone, telling the women to form triangles and square with their bodies on the floor.
Tunick’s past nude shoots in New York have sometimes provoked controversy.
In January 1996, two of his nude models were arrested atop of a Manhattan snowdrift, posed beneath an ice-cream parlor sign that advertised “Frozen Fantasies.”
On New Year’s Eve 1994, Tunick and a model were arrested when she posed nude on top of an 8-foot-high simulated Christmas tree ornament at Rockefeller Center.
Charges were dismissed in both cases.
“In the past, the New York administration considered the body to be a crime, or pornographic,” Tunick said Sunday. “I hope this administration considers the vulnerability of the body.”
The current installation is part of the artist’s “Naked World,” in which he has been traveling the world, hoping to gather more than 35,000 people to pose.