Bare: Degrees of undress

Ian Thorpe_James Houston_APNA new exhibition, Bare: Degrees of undress will celebrate the candid, contrived, natural, sexy, ironic, beautiful, and the fascinating in Australian portraiture that shows a bit of skin at Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery from 14 August 2015.

Including over 90 portraits from the Gallery’s collection, Bare selects and remixes portraits from our collection around elements of nakedness. Fun and forthright, the exhibition will interrogate our instinctive, embedded and complex reactions to the bare. Surprising relationships appear, including portraits of Australia’s greatest sportspeople and our foremost creative achievers.

Portraits include Billy Slater, Germaine Greer, Sherbet, Dame Edna Everage, Matthew Mitcham, David Gulpilil, Megan Gale and many others will be on display.

Curator of the exhibition, Penelope Grist, was fascinated to discover that almost all the Gallery’s portrait sitters in varying degrees of undress are Australia’s foremost creative achievers or elite sportspeople, the majority being men with their shirts off!

Bare will be fun, whilst also interrogating our instinctive reactions to bareness,” said Penelope. “Bareness is not as extreme as nakedness and not as refined as nudity. Bareness emphasises something about a subject’s identity as well as reflecting society. The decision to uncover part, or all, of the body in a portrait is at least as significant as a choice of clothing. Visitors to Bare will see these portraits in a completely new way.”

The Gallery has also created The Bare Game which visitors will be able to play online and in the gallery to discover their very own nude alter-ego from art history. Its release will coincide with the exhibition.

Bare: Degrees of undress
National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition: 14 August – 15 November 2015
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: James Houston, Ian Thorpe 2002. type C photograph. Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. Gift of the artist 2002