Madonna Nudes: Like a Virgin

Photo, 1979, courtesy of Impure Art


Thirty years ago, a 20-year-old arrived to New York, with nothing but a Detroit accent, grit, and her natural assets. Like a lot of young hopefuls, she needed cash flow, and she signed up to pose for Martin Schreiber’s class at Parsons in return for $30. Presumably, her hourly rate has expanded beyond the rate of inflation: $30 bought a Young Madonna posing nude with a cat (a delicate pun indeed). Six years later, Schreiber caught the same girl’s face on the cover of Interview, and then again on People. He peddled the pictures to Playboy, and to Taschen five years later. And the rest is history

As Madonna passes fifty and embarks on the “Sticky & Sweet” tour, Schreiber’s prints are on view at the not-so-virginal-sounding Impure Art in London, a gallery that touts itself as “the most intriguing, controversial and sexy art gallery in the UK.” These pictures, dubbed the Madonna Nudes, feature a slight (albeit with incipient abs), round-faced girl with voluminous black hair. She is not quite the bleach-and-lace Madonna of “Holiday” yet, nor is she the raven-haired woman of the people of “Like A Prayer.” Not yet—but clearly she had the material.

Through Sunday, July 19, at Impure Art. The gallery is located at 19 Earlham Street, London.