Masculinity

About

What expectations lurk behind the phrase “Be a man!”? What does an ideal male body look like? In recent years, many artists have used their work to ask these questions, exposing the ways in which society and mass media construct concepts of masculinity. Cady Noland’s sculptures and installations often incorporate common symbols of male culture—stacked beer cans, cowboys, and American flags—pointing toward the masculine foundations of the American Dream. The ideal male form has long been a subject of interest in Western art, from ancient Greek and Roman statues, to Robert Mapplethorpe’s black-and-white portraits, to Hank Willis Thomas’s depictions of black male athletes that link the exploitation of their bodies in sports and advertising to the history of slavery.

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