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The Naked Man

1959-1962 Joseph Hirsch Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1910 Died: New York, New York 1981 oil on canvas 74 1/4 x 51 1/4 in. (188.6 x 130.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1966.84.3 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 40A

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The Naked Man
from American Art staff

Luce Center Label

Joseph Hirsch's painting captures a rite of passage familiar to young American men during the years of the cold war. The Naked Man shows a tall, youthful figure in a dark hallway, carrying a pile of clothing, dog tags, and boots that signal he has just been drafted into military service. His pale bare skin against the dark background emphasizes the vulnerability of a young man who has been stripped of his identity. At his feet, arrows emerge from the darkness, marking the path that he and other draftees are to follow as they are transformed from civilians to soldiers.


Figure male - full length

Figure male - nude

Object - furniture - chair

Object - furniture - table

Object - other - fabric

Object - written matter - book


paint - oil

fabric - canvas