UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents: Man, Image, Idea: Photographs of Men from the Mark Rice Collection, an exhibition of
UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents:
Man, Image, Idea: Photographs of Men from the Mark Rice Collection, an exhibition of approximately 75 photographs from the Mark Rice Collection, which was donated to the Special Collections at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at UMBC in 1998.
The exhibition, which will open on August 30 and continue on display through December 12, considers various aesthetic, social, and historical aspects of the photographic representation of the male body since 1969 and the history of gay male photography. This exhibition sets out to display and entice contemplation of the male body and engage the complicated dynamics of looking at the
male form. Man, Image, Idea is curated by James Smalls, professor of visual arts, affiliate professor of gender and women’s studies, and affiliate professor of Africana studies at UMBC.
The Mark Rice Collection is comprised of more than 80 photographs constituting part of the history of gay male photography produced after the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, a significant historical event that fostered the visibility and optimistic development of a gay male subculture during the 1970s and early 1980s. Sadly, that carefree optimism turned to a melancholic introspection with the devastating onslaught of HIV/AIDS from the mid-to-late 1980s, and persisting throughout the 1990s. Most of the photographs from the collection date to this latter decade.
Nudes are typically associated with the female form, and exhibitions of male nudes are rare even though the male physique has been the focus of artistic practice since antiquity. This exhibition will
Man, Image, Idea: Photographs of Men from the Mark Rice Collection 2 assist in furthering the aesthetic and critical understanding of the celebrations, as well as trials and
tribulations, of gay male visual culture in the late twentieth century.
In its function as art, the male nude has had a controversial history. Although the female form has had a revered western iconography, the representation of the male body lacks a comparable continuity of tradition. Once the dominant ideal of the ancient Greeks and artists of the Italian Renaissance, images of the male body have since been regarded as carrying a heavy cultural burden. From the late 19th into the early 20th century, the male nude catered to a relatively limited
audience. By the 1950s, images of unclothed men reappeared as part of an interest in body culture. From there, the visibility of the male body has increased dramatically. In the context of our postmodern moment, images of unclad or partially clad men contribute to wider debates around gender, sex and identity, but still embody elements of controversy and confrontation, which is why the male nude needs to be contextualized.
Although not all of the works on display in this exhibition are of nudes, the naked male body, as well as the clothed male form, does carry with it a myriad of physical and symbolic meanings depending on the context in which the image is produced, the person viewing it, or the place in which it is seen. With this said, this exhibition is not just about nude or clothed male bodies. It is also about narratives, metaphors, mythologies, gender, race, and the fears and celebrations surrounding the male form. To
facilitate an understanding of these concerns, the exhibition will be divided into six thematic presentations that will include: 1) reading bodies (bodies as alphabets/objects, etc.); 2) portraits and portrait narratives; 3) scenes of intimacy, seductive allure, and erections; 4) the body raced and/as the body beautiful; 5) the allegorical/metaphorical body; 6) nude vs. naked; dressed vs. undressed.
On Thursday, December 7, at 4 p.m., exhibition curator James Smalls will speak on “The Mark Rice Collection and the Homo-Erotics of Photography after Stonewall” in the Library Gallery. This talk will consider the social, cultural, and aesthetic dynamics of the nude figure in gay male photography, along with the complications of its reception during the last decade of the twentieth century. It will explore the aesthetics and reception of the Mark Rice Collection of photographs whose subject matter engages the mostly nude male body. A reception will follow.
This lecture, which is part of UMBC’s Humanities Forum, is sponsored by the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Gender + Women’s Studies.
About the Curator:
James Smalls is Professor of Visual Arts, Affiliate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, and Affiliate Professor of Africana Studies at UMBC. His research and publications focus on the intersections of race, gender, and queer sexuality issues in nineteenth-century European art and in the art and culture of the black diaspora. He is the author of Homosexuality in Art (Parkstone Press, 2003), and The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten: Public Face, Private Thoughts (Temple University Press, 2006). He is currently completing a book entitled Féral Benga: African Muse of Modernism.
The Library Gallery is located on the first floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery on UMBC’s campus, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250. The Library Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Thursday until 8 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.
Admission to the exhibition and the public program is free. Web: https://artscalendar.umbc.edu/
August 30 (Wednesday) 2:26 pm - December 12 (Tuesday) 2:26 pm
UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery
1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore MD 21250