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Light, Beauty, Desire, and the Art of the Naked Man

My love and passion has always been the theater. I worked as a lighting designer and professional stage manager for years until I tired of constantly living out of my suitcase. I moved back to my home in the mountains of Western Montana, bought my first camera, took up photography, and began taking pictures.

I recently turned my creative eye to the nude male form and began a personal exploration of what it stirred within myself as an aging gay man and the impact it’s had on my life.  The Naked Man Project was a twelve-month endeavor to expose that raw, sensual, and often sexual side of naked men.  Not just a study on homoerotic art, it involves beautiful men of all kinds, often featuring straight men exposed as reflections of themselves in artistic nudes.  Though the writing becames a meditation on sexuality and desire and how it’s revealed in art, the images strive to defy the boundaries of erotic photography and reveal what we face at the core of ourselves, when we are naked, exposed, alone, and at our most vulnerable.  The two became a personal history of my life; my dreams and aspirations, friendships, inspiration, a delving into my own sexuality that is a journey of discovery and illumination as a artist. It is an in-depth look into the heart and soul of my artistic expression, drawing from my background in theater lighting design and a life-long fascination with art.  My images are inspired by the classic works of Caravaggio, Mapplethorpe, and Fred Holland Day.

Now with a new year, and the original project completed, it still continues to grow.  It now evolves to include many other artists who are also exploring the same issues but working in different mediums, writers, painters, graphic artists. To become a common place. a sort of collective of artists from around the world searching for meaning and existance of unlocking the powerful mystery surrounding the classic male nude figure in art.  To become an expression and  reflection of ourselves, our time, and the modern culture in which we live.

Welcome to The Naked Man Project Website

Male nude lying with a close up on the texture of his hand.This is the culmination of a year of hard work and a dream come true.  Ever since I envisioned the idea of capturing the grace, beauty, and power of the male nude as an art form, I have been in constant search of a means of expression and connection to other artists around the world who inspire me in my creative process.

I am fairly new to photography, having spent many years working in professional theater.  I have truthfully spent thirteen years searching for light, beauty, desire and art.  I have had great difficulty finding places on the internet where it actually exists.  Anytime I would search for male nudes or artistic male nudes online, I was inevitably directed to a porn site, which, of course contained little to no artistic integrity whatsoever.  There were a few early sites that featured gay artists such as the Leslie/Lohman Gallery site from New York City.  On one visit to New York my heart raced to actually see the gallery and walk in the mere presence of such acclaimed artists.  But I got there and it was closed, seeming mostly to exist in cyberspace.  Not to say there aren’t great artists to be found online, but locating them can be tricky.  A little over a year ago, I found a place called Man Art.  It was a site developed by a group of Australian homoerotic artists: John Douglas and Stryker Meyer and a Canadian named Bruce Miller. 

Jeremy lying naked body intwined in Caravaggio style lighting.I put a couple of my images on the site for what I thought would become a public humiliation.  Much to my surprise, the images received glowing comments and for the first time since I began this process I had found a home. Unfortunately, the server for that site found the content to be questionable and shut it down.  But many of the artists connected to the Man Art site were also members of another Australian based artist’s site called Red Bubble.  Here my following grew.  My art appealed not only to gay men but to women and all kinds of artists of every sort of media. I became the featured artist in most groups to whom I submitted my work.  Within months, the vastness of my network exploded as I communicated with artists everywhere, sharing concepts, ideas, frustrations and just pure beauty.  The idea was born that I would develop a blog called The Naked Man Project, in which I could communicate with everyone and we could collectively share the process of creation, especially in the realm of nude male imagery.



About Me

Terry Cyr standing on a bridge in Paris France.

My name is Terry J. Cyr.  I am an artist who explores the male form through extraordinary light.  

I began a project the first of January 2011 called THE NAKED MAN PROJECT: One man's exploration in finding himself and his search for light, beauty, desire, and art.  This became an endeavor to expose my sense of compassion, dignity and humanity through the history of my existence as an artist and gay man, and to examine my connection to the naked male form including feelings of desire and sexuality.  The project also reveals the lessons I have learned and the obstacles I have overcome to live a creative life and to function comfortably as a gay man in our society.  It is an in depth look into the heart and soul of creative inspiration, drawing from my background as a theater lighting designer and my life long fascination with art.  I am particularly fascinated by the classic works of visual artists like Caravaggio, Mapplethorpe, and Fred Holland Day.  I am also inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann and Jean Genet, and by Roman sculpture and Greek mythology; namely, all the things gay men find near and dear to their hearts.

Studio portrait of Terry Cyr done in his studio.

Currently I am living in the mountains of Western Montana in a small, picturesque town called Missoula.  I was born in the paperback section of the Mineral County Library in Superior, Montana – a block from where my parents currently live.  I spent most of my youth growing up on a 4th generation ranch, homesteaded by my great grandfather, working the fields and herding cattle.  As far back as I can remember I have always been creative and seemingly very different from those who surrounded me, so growing up in this sort of environment became a constant struggle for identity. 

I was always fascinated by movies and moviemaking.  I originally wanted to become a cinematographer.  But being from a poor family in small town Montana, it seemed this was not a possibility.  When I was offered a scholarship to the local university theater program, I knew I had found my calling.  But the program was far more difficult than I anticipated and I dropped out several times.  Over a nine year period I did eventually get a BFA in directing and stage management.  I loved all aspects of production and was especially drawn to lighting design and stage design.  Stage Management was a perfect blend for me, offering a great balance between my creative right brain and analytical left brain.

Nude of Terry with his cowboy hat in bedroom.

Worked for many years as a professional stage manager and lighting designer in theater until I finally burned out from the stresses of being on the road all the time.  I returned to Montana to become a photographer.  My focus was ‘Arts and Entertainment’ for the State of Montana, shooting archival and live productions, dance performances and concerts. 

I had a teacher advise me when I first took up photography to shoot what I knew and things that I felt passionate about.  Of course, what I really knew was the gay culture;  drag queens and cowboys and the raw sensuality that I felt when viewing a naked man.  These were the things I explored and passionately photographed, between the paid work of shooting portraits, weddings and entertainment images.  It became a hidden passion, as there was no market for these images in Montana.  To survive in Montana one must rely on a wealth of talents and skills so I became a landscape designer and systems operation manager at the local UPS center.  Terry Cyr standing at a waterfall in Montana flexing his muscle.

Eventually, I began showing some of my images in international online artist collectives and began to realize my passion was relevant to others outside the confines of my native Montana.  So many people that connected with the images were fascinated by who I was and why I was creating such imagery in a remote place like Montana.  As my circle of friends began to broaden and I was repeating a lot of the same stories, I realized that I needed to come up with a way to communicate my experience and share my passion for my art in a different manner.  I began a daily blog to explore my own coming of age through stories and, most importantly, a series of photographs of nude men.  

That project has now grown from just a few like-minded artist friends to a 300 -700 per day following of my world of male nude art.

What Others Say About the Project

Nude man standing in front of a mirror so both sides of his naked body can be seen."Naked, exposed to view or plainly revealed, that is the definition of the word. What Terry Cyr has done through his “Naked Man Project” is just that. He stands exposed to strangers, allowing them to explore freely the parts of his life, most people keep well hidden from the outside world. He does this through the nude male images he skillfully photographs in his studio in Montana. With each image Terry adds to his blog he writes his feelings of the day, allowing the world to essentially read his every thought. While his imagery is stunning, and classical, and can stand on its own merits paired with his words they become something entirely different. The nude male is a taboo subject at best in most society, Terry’s work demands you reexamine what the world has to say about it. His work is educational as well, there is more then a wink and a nod to the past found here. I find I understand the art of photography so much more after reading his blog . Terry’s images and words have become a metaphor of sorts for a man of a certain age, pausing to glance back at where he has been, slowly embracing where he is now, and looking the future square in the face through the eye of a lens.

I believe he his about half way through his project now, In ways he is changing peoples lives, while I suspect he is at the same time learning to truly appreciate his own. It will be a bittersweet day when this is finished, I will be even more proud of my friend then I am now for completing this monumental task, but I will be sad not to watch this year long strip tease of life."

Marklin – Brazil

Man lying naked in a bed of white sheets with his body twisted toward the window looking out.“The first time I saw a Terry Cyr photograph I knew immediately that I had stumbled across a rare talent. The nuances of light and considered composition show a depth of understanding of both the human condition and technical requirements of photography that is on an extraordinary level. In each of Terry’s photos I know to wait and look again, for the surface image and the knowledge of art theory and art history shown is only the beginning of what is revealed to viewer the more they look. For Terry’s photography also requires us to see.”

John Douglas – Australia

Naked man lying on a sofa as the natural light washes accross this body."Terry Cyr’s professional training in theatrical lighting gives him a good start toward technical expertise in photography. His appreciation for and interest in the male form gives him the focus needed to take that expertise to the top. But it is his own sensitive introspection, as evidenced in his Naked Man Project, that brings his work together and makes it truly art. I have been studying male portrait photography for over forty years. Terry’s work is hands-down the best I’ve seen."

—Bryan D. Spellman, Ph.D.

School of Fine Arts, The University of Montana (retired)

Man sitting naked in beautiful window light with his arms wrapped around his legs.

"Terry Cyr's work in the arena of the male nude has set a very high standard in the field.  Terry's work with classic poses, inspired by the likes of Caravaggio and other artists, combined with his amazing mastery of light, has created images that are classic and timeless.  One feels a sense of awe and being at one with the photographer and model when viewing these classic works."

Ramon Reynolds – Costa Rica


Black and white of a naked man's torso twisted in strong studio light.

"Terry uses the richness of life lived, passion, and compassion to create a unique melding of subject and self, a sincere and honest collaboration taking his subjects on the greatest exploration - looking at themselves and capturing the essence of their existence – to unveil what is remarkable within themselves. His work, inspired by classical art, takes us to the edge where beauty dwells, explores identity and brings it to light in images that give the subject a different perspective. Terry’s distinctive style observes existence on both a physical and emotional level, draws upon the power and mystery of light to transform, bringing focus to what is important by creating a journey through time and revealing passion lurking within the shadows of images where darkness meets the light and the beauty of humanity emerges."

David Christenson – Missoula Montana

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