While the naked female body, the female nude is an accepted topic of art, the naked male body, after Classical Antiquity, remained close to invisible for a long time, the nude man appeared solely as a mythological hero or a Christian martyr for centuries. What might be the reason for this invisibility, and why is the hidden male body still revealed at times? Through depicitions of the nude male body, we can trace changes in the social role of men, the shaping of male identity, which all is inseparable from changes taking place in society, and the power system. The exhibition follows how the meaning of the male nude has altered in the past hundred years, how male artists approach their own nudity – bravely, though full of doubts, with curiosity about new life patterns; and also how female artists have conquered a theme that had long been forbidden to them.
The exhibition starts around 1900, in the world of the turn of the century Vienna, when the first big crisis of male identity changed the way we look at the male nude. For modern artists, the naked male body divested of every role became bearer of self-revelation, self-recognition and renewal. From this point on, the exhibition follows the male nude through the history of the 20th and 21st centuries, through crises of identity and phases of sovereignity, the questioning of traditional male role models, the search for alternatives, the face up to weakness and vulnerability, the gaze of desire and the erotic pose.