Man, Image, Idea: Photographs of Men from the Mark Rice Collection
August 30 – December 12
UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Man, Image, Idea: Photographs of Men from the Mark Rice Collection is an exhibition of approximately 75 photographs from The Mark Rice Collection, donated to the Special Collections at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at UMBC in 1998. The exhibition 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 of the male body and engage the complicated dynamics of looking at the male form.
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.
Since the majority of these photographs date to the 1990s, a decade that, among other things, witnessed the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and due to the collector’s personal connection with the epidemic, these photographs will also be considered in that context.
The exhibition is curated James Smalls, Professor of Visual Arts at UMBC. His research and publications focus on the intersections of race, gender, and queer sexuality in modern and contemporary visual culture. He is the author of Homosexuality in Art (2003) and The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten (2006). He will be giving a talk as part of the Humanities Forum and related to the exhibition titled “The Mark Rice Collection and the Homo-Erotics of Photography After Stonewall,” on Thursday, December 7 at 4 p.m. in the Library Gallery.
Admission to the exhibition, lecture and reception is free and open to the public.
Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday until 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12 – 5 p.m.
Public Program — Humanities Forum sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities
“The Mark Rice Collection and the Homo-Erotics of Photography After Stonewall”
James Smalls, Professor of Visual Arts, UMBC
Thursday, December 7, 4 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Image: Frank Yarmus, R.J. Bronze, 1994, gelatin silver print, courtesy of UMBC Special Collections and the artist.