Models Front and Center

~ Be still my heart ~ Can it be? Is it real? A museum exhibition devoted to artists’ models? Why yes, yes it is! Hallelujah! :happy dance:

The Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian has organized “Artists and Their Models”, a collection of photographs, letters, journals, and drawings exploring the professional experiences and interactions between models and artists over many decades. From the exhibition page, one passage jumped out at me: ” Models are too often given short shrift in art history, their names and stories left unknown unless their fame came by way of scandal.”. How true that is.

Many thanks to Fred Hatt for emailing me this story from NPR and to Andrew for posting it on Twitter. Good work guys! The exhibition is on view until August 27th. Think I’ll be making a trip down to D.C. 🙂

And now a snapshot into the current art modeling world that may find its way into “archives” someday. I took this picture at the National Academy, Saturday painting class with Dan Gheno. It was the long break and everyone left the studio for coffee and fresh air. That’s a work-in-progress of me on the canvas, and my modeling partner Raven resting on the platform. He looks comfortable!


16 thoughts on “Models Front and Center

  1. Lynn Kauppi says:

    I fully agree that models don’t get the credit they deserve. Audrey Munson was almost a household name in New York City for her movie work and the many pieces of public statuary she’d posed for. Then she was committed to an asylum for schizophrenia and her family conveniently forgot about her until a distant descendant discovered her when she was over 100. Her grave is barely marked. Fortunately we still have the beautiful works of art she posed for and at least one recently rediscovered print of her 1916 movie Purity.
    From your posts, it seems that you get your fair share of credit. I certainly hope so.
    Have you read Kathleen Rooney’s “Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object”? A fascinating personal account of an art and photography model’s work.
    Hope your church is treating you well. You and your family and all the drama are in my prayers.


    • artmodel says:


      I love that you brought up Audrey Munson! I wrote about her way back when in the early days of Museworthy. Here’s the old post:

      I haven’t read Kathleen Rooney’s book but lots of people have suggested it to me. I should add it to my summer reading list.

      And yes my church is treating me very well. Thank you so much for your comments, prayers, and well-wishes 🙂


      • cauartprof says:

        I second Lynn’s suggestion to check out the Rooney book. Well written and presents some of the ups and downs of art modeling that you are well aware of.

  2. Derek says:

    I am glad to see that the art models are getting the credit they deserve. They are underrated talents and people don’t see of the hard work and dedication they have created in their craft and be creative with the artist when it comes to concepts.The models are truly the conceptual ideal giver to the artists the two make a great collaboration. It’s like making and creating great artistry together.

    I see models as conceptual artists as thye posed for the artist to inspire them for their creation as to paintings and comics. I have great resp-ects for them and more power to them and I always thank them for inspiring us as artist. I feel the same way with my old muse Allison Phillips who I just had a reunion with her at a gallery after 40 years being apart.It all started when I did yhe piece inspired by that wonderful piece from the museworthy art show last december from you know who, I won’t mention it since that piece was inspirational and I felt connected to doing something in a different version. When i first saw the piece I was like darn she is so good how can I ever topped that one. it made me even work harder as an artist. As I said if there are any more beautiful pictures for the next show please bring them on I am so raedy to do it again and be one creative soul, and never forget that all models like yourself are also the creative souls of the masterpieces.

    • artmodel says:


      I’ve actually been contemplating the next Museworthy Art Show and trying to come up with a unique idea. I know you’re ready for it right now! You are in a constant state of inspiration which is really amazing.

      I like what you said about models being “conceptual ideal givers”. That’s great. Respect for models abounds not just here on this blog but throughout the schools, academies, and studios where I work. I never could have continued to work steadily for so long if I felt unappreciated by the artists.

      Thanks for your comments, as always!


  3. Alan Appel says:

    Your posts are always so informing. Must go to DC for this one.

  4. Bill says:

    It’s about time! You guys are the co-creators.

    But, whew! — DC in the summer . . . I love the Summer, but that is definitely not their best season.

    • artmodel says:


      That’s true about DC in the summer. Best way to deal with it is spending more time indoors in nice air-conditioned museums 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!


  5. Dave says:


    I’d love to see this exhibit. I’m going to have to make an excuse to get to DC.

  6. fredh1 says:

    Art fans may not realize how much a great art model like you contributes to the art you pose for. With the average model I might get a good drawing now and then. With a great model I get a much higher percentage of beautiful work. A great model makes me feel urgently called to do my best, to rise to the challenge of what I am being given. Even in a class setting this kind of inspiration makes a big difference. In private work it becomes a true collaboration.

    You pose for so many artists, with so many different styles, but you bring your unique energy to all that work. Your spirit imbues all of it. Most modeling work is anonymous and unsung, but models like you are the beating heart of figurative art.

    • artmodel says:


      Comments like this are the reason you are a beloved figure among the art models in NYC. You love and appreciate us, and we love and appreciate you too!

      I’m touched by your very generous words about my modeling. Thanks so much, dear friend. I can’t think of a better testimony than to be called “the beating heart of figurative art” 🙂


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