Archive for June 26th, 2013


Exhibition: ‘The Naked Man’ at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Exhibition dates: 23rd March – 30th June 2013


Many thankx to the Ludwig Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.




Tibor Gyenis. 'Hommage á Ana Mendieta' 1999


Tibor Gyenis (Hungarian, b. 1970)
Hommage á Ana Mendieta
From the series Hommage á Ana Mendieta
Courtesy of the Artist


Spencer Tunick. 'Düsseldorf 5 (Museum Kunst Palast)' 2006


Spencer Tunick (American, b. 1967)
Düsseldorf 5 (Museum Kunst Palast)
Courtesy Stephane Janssen


Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000


Károly Halász (Hungarian, 1946-2016)
Body-builder in Renaissance manner
Courtesy of the Artist


'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views


The Naked Man, exhibition views, Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, 2013
© Photos: György Darabos



While the naked female body or nude is an accepted theme in art, the unclothed male body has appeared over the centuries, ever since classical antiquity, solely through depictions of the hero or martyr. Today however, the naked male body, provocatively revealed in contemporary art, is far from a heroic figure. The exhibition The Naked Man examines the ways in which the appearance of the naked male body has changed and been transformed over the last century. The changes in the male image from the end of the nineteenth century till today are traced through eight thematic areas.

The chronological starting point of the exhibition is the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when not even the traditional values of masculinity were spared by the crisis of identity, as manifested in the work of such artists of fin de siècle Vienna such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. For modern artists, the stripped down, naked male body was a bearer of revelation, self-knowledge and renewal. From this starting point, the exhibition follows the naked man through 20th and 21st century history, presenting challenges to the hegemonic model of male identity through the work of close to 100 artists, from questioning traditional male role models to the search for alternatives, from facing up to weakness and fragility to exploring the desiring gaze, body worship and the erotic pose.

In the depiction of the undressed male body there are also clues as to the changing social role of men, the formation of male identity, which is inseparable from both changes occurring in society and the workings of power. Power defines the gaze, which for centuries has been in the possession of men, while women have been merely the objects of the gaze. This division of roles between men and women in society was held to mirror the eternal or ‘natural’ order. The exhibition reassigns the roles, since the object of the gaze is no longer women, but men. How far this signifies the loss, sacrifice or transfer of possession of the gaze can be considered in depth with the help of thematically organised artworks.

The stripped down male body is defined by particular points of crisis. In that sense, the very spirit of the life reform movement that appeared at the turn of the century was one in which the naked male body was seen as a harmonious part of nature and a symbol of the desire to renew society. The naked man appears completely differently in relation to homosexuality. The homoerotic gaze eroticised the male body and examined it as an object of desire. The influence of feminism can be felt in artistic approaches that involve putting on make-up, the hiding of the sexual organ, as well as its ‘relocation’ or symbolic loss, all ways in which male artists have called attention to the arbitrariness of the designation of gender boundaries. Indefinable sexual identity, which is adaptive to the role of the opposite sex, is a revolutionary affront to the conventional expectations of traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. Heroic, hard masculinity, the healthy, body radiating physical strength, is a particularly important symbol for dictatorships. The disciplined body that conforms to the rules symbolises dominance over bodies. It is opposite to the anti-hero, the defenceless, vulnerable male body, that of the man who deliberately suffers pain in the desire to get back his lost power.

The man who belongs to a sexual or racial minority, along with the chubby or ageing male, is forced out of public space and confined to the private sphere, cut off from the connection of the male body to power. The body symbolises power, which can only truly be possessed if its nakedness is not completely revealed, if the sexual organ remains hidden. One of the last taboos of the cultural sphere of Christianity is the sight of the male sexual organ. After all this, what remains an interesting question is whether the female gaze can be an instrument of power. In addition, how do we view the nude studies that were once an indispensable part of academic artistic training, along with earlier and more recent attempts at depicting naked male models? How do we see the relation between artist and model in the self-portrait, in which the artist uses his own naked body as a terrain for the merciless exploration of the self?

The new masculinity does not view cultural roles as naturally given, but rather revolts against them, smashing taboos and unveiling fetishes. In the region of Central and Eastern Europe the body of the naked man is enriched with further layers of significance. In the art of former socialist countries, the naked male body was seen as an expression of enslavement to the patriarchal system, while gender roles are also worthy of examination in this context. After the collapse of the system, the changed geopolitical order, old and new desires and power relations were inscribed onto the body, shaping the new masculinity.

Press release from the Ludwig Museum website


Herbert List. 'Young Arab with foxtail lilies, Hammamet, Tunisia' 1935


Herbert List (German, 1903-1975)
Young Arab with foxtail lilies, Hammamet, Tunisia
Münchner Stadtmuseum


Jimmy Caruso. 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' 1978


Jimmy Caruso (Canadian, 1926-2021)
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Münchner Stadtmuseum


McDermott & McGough. 'Tattoo Man in Repose' 1891/1991


McDermott & McGough
Tattoo Man in Repose
© McDermott & McGough
Courtesy Galerie Jerome de Noirmont


Rudolf Koppitz. 'In the lap of Nature' Self portrait c. 1923


Rudolf Koppitz (Austrian, 1884-1936)
In the lap of Nature
Self portrait
c. 1923
Münchener Stadtmuseum / Sammlung Fotografie


Richard Avedon. 'Rudolf Nureyev' 1961


Richard Avedon (American, 1923-2004)
Rudolf Nureyev
© The Richard Avedon Foundation
Courtesy Stephane Janssen


Pierre et Gilles. 'Apolló' 2005


Pierre et Gilles
Model: Jean-Christophe Blin
© Pierre et Gilles
Courtesy Galerie Jerome de Noirmont


Pierre et Gilles. 'The Death of Adonis' 1999


Pierre et Gilles
The Death of Adonis
Private collection, Paris


David LaChapelle. 'Celebrity Gleam' 2002


David LaChapelle (American, b. 1963)
Celebrity Gleam
Courtesy of Galerie Thomas, Munich



Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art
1095 Budapest Komor Marcell Street 1
Hungary 06 1 555-3444

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00
Closed on Mondays

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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