June 5 – September 6, 2003
Thursday, June 5th, 2003
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
ClampArt is pleased to announce “Boys of Summer: Photographs of and about Men,” a large group exhibition including work from the 1930s to the present. Artists represented in the show will include Tom Atwood, Vincent Cianni, Bruce Cratsley, John Dugdale, Brian Finke, Robert Flynt, Robert Giard, Nan Goldin, Horst P. Horst, Bill Jacobson, Miles Ladin, George Platt Lynes, Robert Mapplethorpe, Paul Meleschnig, Michal Macku, Duane Michals, PaJaMa, Jack Pierson, Mel Roberts, Arthur Tress, and JoJo Whilden, among others.
The late-twentieth century—in many respects an epoch defined by the rapid proliferation of the photographic image—is also a period that stood witness to a marked change in public attitudes toward artistic representations of the male form. Until the late 1960s, full frontal male nudes were still legally classified obscene—literally outlawed. Until that time, such photographs were mainly shot, developed, displayed, and exchanged in relative secrecy, or at least with necessary measures of extreme discretion. However, public intolerance of such imagery eventually began to erode due to the efforts of both the gay liberation and feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s. In fact, despite (or perhaps due to) memorable censorship battles in the 1980s, images by photographers such as Mapplethorpe finally can be seriously considered for their artistic merit, rather than being systematically relegated to the realm of pornography.
While the photographs in “Boys of Summer” were selected first and foremost as simply a compelling collection of male portraits by artists of both sexes, the political tack of such a group of images cannot be denied—even in the 21st century. The photographic depiction of the male subject remains an artistic challenge due to the persistence of loaded and inescapable connotations still married to such imagery. Traces of shame, anger, defiance, and thankfully celebration pervade various photographs in this exhibition, reminding one of battles still not quite won.