10 years ago, British artist Jeremy Deller approached venerable rock star Iggy Pop with an idea: Iggy Pop as a model for a life drawing class, with the resulting works assembled as a museum exhibition. At the time, the star refused. He felt that any museum would reject the collection as a perverse, unappealing joke. Even then, he did not look like anyone’s ideal of a life-drawing model.
Whether Iggy Pop finally had a change of heart, or simply succumbed to Deller’s plan after a decade of whatever pressure the artist could apply, the rock star finally gave in in 2016. Twenty two students from the New York Academy of Art were chosen, in an age span from 18 to 80, eleven years older than Mr. Pop himself. Along with their instructor, Michael Grimaldi, the students were majors in animation, psychology, photojournalism, and fashion. One was a newcomer to drawing. Another was a military veteran, one was a working pharmacist.
Together, this varied crew produced over 100 drawings of their rock star subject. Some of them are full portraits of his serious face and a body that reflects a lifetime of hard use. Others zero in on features—a hand, his eyes, his genitals. Most of them are done in charcoal on off-white paper.
53 of them have been chosen, by the class, to be presented to the Brooklyn Museum as an exhibition. A Detroit-native, Iggy Pop likes the Brooklyn Museum for being down-to-earth about art. They folded the drawings into an existing collection of art focusing on the male nude.
In that company, the drawings do at first seem out of place. There is no idealized beauty here. Mr. Pop sags and wrinkles in ways that art often obscures, and there is something rather androgynous about him. But perhaps that is a good punctuation to have in an exhibition of the otherwise archetypal male. A comment on our forays into a post-gender social structure.