Sixty years after Hugh Hefner founded Playboy, the long-running men’s magazine once known for its high-brow selection of short stories and “classy” nudes has given seven contemporary artists free rein to submit artwork inspired by the centerfold. The end result is a four-page article in the January–February 2013 issue that includes the somewhat sexually explicit work along with short bios of the artists.
At least two of them—Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince—have a history of referencing Playboy in their earlier work. The horizontal color portraits in Sherman’s 1981 series “Centerfold” featured the artist in various (clothed) poses, subtle looks of distress or resignation playing across her face. Prince, meanwhile, designed an oversize paper bag and pamphlet for Printed Matter in 1991 imprinted with a “skull bunny” clearly inspired by Playboy’s ubiquitous logo.
For the Playboy project Sherman has contributed two untitled photos from 1992 (aside from Sherman, all the artists created new work), one showing a nude body augmented with fake body parts topped off with her own masked face in a boudoir-type setting, the other a plastic adult doll bent backwards at the waist, crotch thrust upwards. Prince submitted a digital photo, Untitled Girlfriend 2012, showing a topless young woman posing in front of a rusty bike in purple chaps.
The other artists are Ryan McGinness (a pink-on-black digital drawing of recent playmate Heather Knox), Will Cotton (a painting of a nude woman, modeled after the burlesque dancer Miss Ruby Valentine, lounging on a cotton candy cloud), Jill Magid (a red neon text piece spelling out “With Full Consent”), Wes Lang (an elaborate drawing incorporating the Playboy logo, roses, liquor bottles and pin-up girls) and Tracey Emin (a gouache of a nude woman, legs splayed, slumped in a chair).