On February 25th, 1976 the Whitney Museum hosted an unusual exhibit: Articulate Muscle, The Body As Art. Instead of sculptures or paintings, three body builders were on display, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the time, The New Yorker noted the men stood before a panel of 6 artists, art historians and writers, as well as thousands of attendees (even though it was believed that there were be minimal interest in the unusual exhibit). While a number of art critics were on hand, so was Sports Illustrated, which reported:
"The event was inspired by a book called Pumping Iron, perhaps the first serious book ever written about body building. Its author, novelist and former weight lifter Charles Gaines, helped persuade the Whitney to organize the event and was a member of a panel chosen largely from the academic community to see and discuss the bodies of Frank Zane, Ed Corney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, not in athletic terms but as artists living inside their own creations."
Schwarzenegger was described as being clad in skintight brown briefs, "his body shining like the August moon. He drew wild applause when he sailed into a perfect imitation of The Thinker. When he finished posing, he threw up his arms and bounded off the platform while the audience cheered enthusiastically." Here's a great capture from the night—and check out this video below:
[h/t The Whitney]