The Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation

ShowingJanuary 21, 1995 - March 26, 1996

While the subject of the feminine has been explored in depth over the past generation, until very recently its counterpart, masculinity, has been largely ignored in contemporary art exhibitions. This thematic exhibition, presented in all three of the List Center’s galleries, explores the social construction of masculinity through the works of eleven artists, including Matthew Barney, Tina Barney, Clegg and Guttman, Graham Durward, Lyle Ashton Harris, Dale Kistemaker, Mary Kelly, Donald Moffett, Keith Piper, Charles Ray, and Michael Yue Tong, working in various media.

 Western society has had an enormous investment in mainstream masculinity, typically defined as white, heterosexual, and dominant. Until recently this standard definition remained largely unexamined. As earlier studies of the construction of femininity have demonstrated, any attempt to understand the male gender also requires an acknowledgement of its social diversity and an expansion of its traditional parameters to include such important factors as race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The Masculine Masquerade seeks to examine that diversity.  

 Recognizing the impossibility of encompassing such a vast subject in a single exhibition, we have structured this exhibition around specific male archetypes as a means of generating a dialogue on specific issues. Our areas of investigation include: postwar American boyhood experience, as interpreted by Dale Kistemaker; father-and-son relationship, as investigated by Michael Yue Tong; heterosexual identity and practice, as viewed by Charles Ray and Graham Durward; gay male identity, as explored by Donald Moffett; athletics as an arena of male expression, as depicted in Keith Piper’s work; male fantasy and eroticism, as seen in Matthew Barney’s video-installation; the military and issues of aggression, as explored by Mary Kelly; white-collar authority and privilege, as examined by Clegg and Gutman and Tina Barney; and the narratives of cultural difference surrounding Asian American and African American male identity, as seen in the projects of Lyle Ashton Harris and Glenn Ligon.

 This exhibition has been funded in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York and the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC.

 Catalogue with text by co-curators Helaine Posner and Andrew Perchuk, Simon Watney, Harry Brod, Steven Cohan, bell hooks, and Glenn Ligon.