Man Up! Visualizing Masculinity in 19th-Century America
The 19th century witnessed the development of a notion of masculinity that tied the worth of a white man to his performance in the workplace—from which women and other minorities were excluded—and to his capacity to accumulate capital and advance socially. By the turn of the 20th century, pervasive anxiety posed by the threat of emasculation and the constant need to prove oneself as a man fostered a sense of an ideal manliness that was cutthroat or “primitive,” a masculinity characterized by passion, vigor, and aggressiveness and manifested through violence, displays and abuses of power, and alienation. Drawn from the Addison’s collection, the works on view in this exhibition reflect the constant redefinition of masculinity in American society during the 19th and early 20th centuries, inviting us to think critically about the shifting definitions of gender roles.
Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Mollie Bennett Lupe and Garland M. Lasater Exhibitions Fund.