The Naked Man

Media - 1966.84.3 - SAAM-1966.84.3_1 - 2419
Copied Joseph Hirsch, The Naked Man, 1959-1962, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 1966.84.3

Artwork Details

The Naked Man
74 1451 14 in. (188.6130.1 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Object — furniture — chair
  • Object — written matter — book
  • Object — other — fabric
  • Figure male — full length
  • Figure male — nude
Object Number

Artwork Description

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.