‘Naked Men’ opens at the Leopold Museum in Vienna

The “Nackte Maenner” (Naked men) exhibition is now open at the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

The exhibition opened its doors on October 19, 2012 and runs until January 28, 2013.

From the release:

The endless flood of images intrinsic to today’s lifestyle has given unprecedented public prominence to the depiction of male nudes. At the same time seemingly firmly established categories such as masculinity, body and nakedness are apparently being redefined on a broad social basis, resulting in a new interpretation of male gender roles.

These developments have prompted the Leopold Museum to embark on a topical as well as historical journey through the visual arts in search of the male nude, a quest leading predominantly from the longing for antiquity prevalent in art around 1800 to contemporary art.

The exhibition “Naked Men – Power & Powerlessness Through the Ages” also represents the fulfillment of the museum’s long-cherished ambition to present a counterpart to the highly successful 2006 exhibition Body – Face – Soul curated by Elisabeth Leopold, which explored the female image in art from the 16th century to the present.

The current presentation is based on works by Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl and Anton Kolig – three artists who are more comprehensively represented in the Leopold Museum than in any other institution and in whose oeuvre the depiction of the male nude features prominently.

Schiele’s male nudes can be seen as unconditional explorations of the self, as expressions of inner emotions and as body images situated between vulnerability and provocation.

Gerstl followed the tradition of Christian iconography with the first of his two life-sized self-portraits, while he elevated the fragmentation of form to a principal in the second with his wild brushstrokes.

Kolig was captivated by the depiction of naked young men all his life and dedicated his drawings almost exclusively to this motif.

Based on eminent examples from its own collection and complemented by loaned works from all over Europe, the Leopold Museum’s exhibition will set out in two main directions, examining the depiction of the male nude in contemporary art, while also exploring the Old Masters’ approach to the subject from the Renaissance all the way back to antiquity. The exhibition unites examples of many different genres, including painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and new media, with special emphases on the following themes: THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS: THE MALE BODY AND ART ACADEMIES.