Spencer Tunick has been documenting the live nude figure in public, with photography and video, since 1992. Since 1994, he has organized over 100 temporary site-related installations that encompass dozens, hundreds or thousands of volunteers, and his photographs are records of these events. In his early group works, the individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together, metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance. These group masses, which do not underscore sexuality, often become abstractions that challenge or reconfigure one's views of nudity and privacy. The work also refers to the complex issue of presenting art in permanent or temporary public spaces.
Spencer Tunick stages scenes in which the battle of nature against culture is played out against various backdrops, from civic center to desert sandstorm. In 2002 he started to work with standing positions for his group formations referencing traditional group portraiture. Now, for some installations, he adds objects that the participants are often holding or wearing and has included body paint.
Near the end of installations, for the final setups, he sometimes separates the participants into smaller groups to make additional assemblages: sometimes by sex, sometimes by age, or even by hair color. However, no one is ever excluded from an installation because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, gender identity, sex, race, religion, or political affiliation. Within reason, if you can make it to an installation you can participate, unless of course there are space limitations.
Spencer could not make his art without the generosity of the participants. He is eternally grateful for their participation. He wishes he could credit everyone in his individual and group photographs but there are hundreds and thousands who have taken part collectively. In exchange for taking part, participants receive a limited edition print.
Spencer has and continues to make group installations/photographs elevating awareness of cancer, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQIA+ rights, equality and climate change, among other issues.
Spencer Tunick's temporary site-specific photographic installations have been commissioned by the XXV Biennial de Sao Paulo, Brazil (2002); Institut Cultura, Barcelona (2003); The Saatchi Gallery (2003); MOCA Cleveland (2004); Vienna Kunsthalle (2008) and MAMBO Museum of Modern Art, Bogota (2016), among others.