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Hamptons Life

May 11, 2010 11:50 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Great Nude Invitational draws two artists from East End

May 11, 2010 11:50 AM

It’s not a gathering for the modest or the timid, based as it is on art featuring naked bodies. Then there are the nude models and a collection of artists sketching them between drinks. Depending on where you stand on nudity in art, none of it is a big deal. What is worth noting is that this event points to a rising trend of promoting figurative art in the public’s consciousness.

So arrives the first art fair exhibition devoted to the nude. The Great Nude Invitational alights in the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan this week, running from May 13 to 16. The Invitational will present a series of works from 20 exhibiting artists. All feature the nude form in some capacity.

The artwork ranges from classical realism to academic to cutting edge contemporary, according to fair founders Jeffrey Wiener and Robert Curcio. Mr. Wiener is the publisher of the, which is presenting the fair. Mr. Curcio co-founded the Scope art fairs. The pair expect the Great Nude Invitational to be a recurring event.

Special events include an opening night reception on Thursday, drawing workshops on Friday and Sunday and a panel discussion on Sunday. One special highlight is two evenings of Sketch Parties with nude models. Admission is $25 and includes one free drink and admission to the art fair. Regular admission to the fair is $10 or $5 with a valid museum membership card. Entrance to the opening night reception is $20.

A second highlight is a special exhibition titled “Corpus Hermeticum,” which includes work by figurative art star Odd Nerdrum plus renowned artists Adam Miller, Richard T. Scott, Fedele Spadafora and others. The show is curated by Leah Poller and presented in cooperation with the Nerdrum Institute.

Unlike many art fairs, the Invitational puts the emphasis on the artists and not the galleries representing them. The Great Nude Invitational also seeks to demonstrate that nudes are finding prominence in different styles of art, said Mr. Curcio.

Young artists are liberally mixing figurative techniques with conceptual or illustration approaches. Classical realism and classical nude artwork is attracting artists, he said, and the time seemed right to found a fair spotlighting the figure instead of having these works tucked among the different genres galleries represent, he said. Twenty artists were accepted into the inaugural fair.

Along with international artists, the fair will feature two from the East End: photographer Tapp Francke of Southampton and painter-illustrator Mary Larsen of Shelter Island.

Ms. Francke is known for her colorist photography, in series featuring abstraction, florals, fruits, neon and nudes. She was recommended to the Invitational by her gallery, Anelle Gandelman Fine Art of Larchmont, New York. Her work can be viewed at Locally, she has exhibited at Guild Hall, the Sara Nightingale Gallery, Solomon Contemporary, RVS Fine Art and with McNeill Art Group of Southampton.

Ms. Larsen graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in December 2009. Trained as an illustrator, her art took a turn that her professors found difficult to nurture (or accept), she said in an interview in November. After returning home to Shelter Island, her unique fantasy paintings caught the eye of Alexis Martino of the Mosquito Hawk Gallery on Shelter Island.

Karen Boltax also became a fan. She included Ms. Larsen’s work in a benefit for Haiti earthquake relief sponsored by her gallery, The Boltax Gallery, held in New York. Locally, Ms. Larsen has exhibited at Mosquito Hawk Gallery, the Mayfair Gallery in East Hampton and others. Her work can be viewed at

The two artists seem to be part of a rising interest in nude artwork among artists and galleries in the Hamptons. Sketch parties are being held. New life drawing classes have been starting up. The established nude life drawing classes run by Linda Capello for the Southampton Artists Association at the Southampton Cultural Center are still going strong.

Galleries such as Tulla Booth and Crazy Monkey Gallery have held exhibitions featuring the nude. Mosquito Hawk Gallery plans to open its season on Memorial Day with a nude figurative show. A newly-formed figurative group, Body of Work, held its second exhibition at Ashawagh Hall last weekend. A third is planned for September.

The Great Nude Invitational will be held May 13 to 16 at the Roger Smith Hotel, 501 Lexington Avenue in New York. For details, visit

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