BYU art show to exclude nudes
By Rodger L. Hardy
Deseret Morning News PROVO — An exhibition of works by
illustrator Burton Silverman will open later this month at the Brigham
Young University Museum of Art.
Nude illustrations in his collection, however, won't be shown.
Silverman, who chuckled about the religious university
eliminating his nudes from the show, said he began doing nudes by
visiting burlesque houses.
"Nudity in public life is relevant," he told the Deseret Morning News.
BYU officials take exception to that view, maintaining that
nude illustrations are irrelevant to the exhibition that will open
"The purpose of the show was not to show a retrospective of all
of his work," museum spokesman Christopher Wilson said.
Rather, the exhibition is to show how Silverman, whose works
have appeared on covers of Time and Newsweek, captures the human face
and the essence of humanity.
"We picked works that reflect what we wanted to show about
Burt's work," Wilson said. BYU officials told Silverman which pieces
they plan to exhibit.
Nudes don't fit the theme of the exhibition titled "The
Intimate Eye: Drawings by Burton Silverman," he said.
The museum will exhibit 33 of Silverman's life drawings. Many
were preliminary to paintings, while others were commissioned.
Silverman's work, which spans four decades, has appeared in a
variety of national publications, including The New Yorker magazine.
Silverman has exhibited in galleries and museums since 1956. He
has had 30 solo shows in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington,
D.C., the Mexico City Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Art in
This is not the first time BYU, which is owned and operated by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has decided
not to show works of art featuring nudity.
In October 1997, the university attracted attention by refusing
to show four sculptures by 19th century French sculptor
Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin — "The Kiss," "Saint John the Baptist
Preaching," The Prodigal Son" and "Monument to Balzac."
A "lack of dignity" was the issue then, not nudity, museum
director Campbell Gray said at the time.
BYU stored the four pieces until the entire exhibit was
returned to the Cantor Foundation, which loaned the exhibit.