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Audrey Munson Artists' Nude Model

San Francisco and Hollywood
1915-1921 MU15-21

   Topless with sheer gowns. Nude. Cutout bra and shorts. Nude. Topless and skirt.

   TMLBAP. TMLB. TMLBA. N -3. Shaven.

   Munson is chosen to be the featured model for sculptures which tell the story of the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Her nude body rides atop an oxcart (1) , sits atop a fountain (2), and bears water in angelic form (3). She wears a barebreasted halter as she reclines on a phallic fish (4), wears a diaphanous and revealing costume as the "Star Girl" (5), and bares her breasts and pubis as an angel (6).
   From San Francisco the "American Venus" and former "Miss Manhattan" turns her modeling and art world toward the silent screen. She stands naked while the assistant holds a drape for Inspiration (7), and romps naked in the great outdoors in Purity (8), which causes a scandal. The nude portrait with waist-length hair, looking out the doorway, is attributed to be from Headless Moths (9), possibly her last movie.

   The Audrey Munson story provides a case study in American Edwardian society. Daughter of a divorced mom, Audrey is discovered on the street in New York in 1906 and becomes a sculptor's model She is 15 years old. By her young twenties she is a society darling and "model of choice" for all the big-name sculptors and painters--this is all nude work of course. Her breakout occurs after "the girl with the ideal figure" is chosen to pose for a memorial coin and sculptures at a San Francisco Exposition in 1915. This lands her a contract with the American Film Company and starring roles in four silent films. These include, you guessed, the story of a sculptor's model, so this is the premise for what some credit as the first time a woman takes all her clothes off in a movie. Wikipedia.com is the source of much of this information, and they add, "Recreating scenes from classic paintings, the censors are reluctant to ban the film fearing they would also have to ban Renaissance art." So it remains for moralists to condemn the movies, exciting the curious and making a lot of money for the producers. Munson's career as a model and actress end after a tragic love affair back in New York when Munson's suitor murders his wife. Munson is questioned by the police, and the suitor is captured, convicted, sentenced to die, and hangs himself in his cell. By the time she is forty Munson herself is unhinged, and will spend the rest of her life institutionalized in a psychiatric facility.
   Munson's nude cinema work should be analyized in the context of relative modesty, and then compared to Annette Kellerman's, who brings a different kind of slant to the sexuality of the era (AK1610).

   Primary source is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Munson and a virtually identical entry at encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com, 2006. Also is picture source.
   MU1550 is Adolph A. Weinman, sculptor, Descending Night at the Fountain of the Setting Sun, Panama Pacific International Expo, San Francisco, 1915. MU1552 is Alexander Stirling Calder, sculptor, Star or Star Maiden, also for the Panama Pacific International Expo, San Francisco,1915. MU1554-60, also from wikipedia, are implied to be part of the expo, and as "The Exposition Girl" they depict her or her celebrity. MU1554 is "Pacific", MU1556 is The Fountain of Flowers, and MU1558 is "Nations of the World." MU1560 is "Autumn".
   MU1580 is a still from Inspiration, Hollywood, 1915. MU1650 is a still from Purity, Hollywood, 1916. MU2150 is a still from Headless Moths. 9 pictures.
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