Challenging the statement "Clothes
make the man," Men Without Suits uncovers the
facades and persona created in our society with what men wear.
Interestingly, the exhibition also reveals these guises continue
when the clothes come off, exploring the evolving nature of
male erotic appeal, the objectification of the male body and
the shifting notions of the male nude both as commodity and
"Ubiquitous in modern culture, male nude imagery is seen
everywhere today from high fashion magazines, MTV videos and
homosexual porn to the Hollywood screen," says exhibition
curator John E. Vollmer. "However, scarcely more than 30
years ago these very images were illegal and their photographers,
models, and customers were subject to prosecution until a 1968
U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which determined the distribution
of full frontal nude photographs through the mail was protected
by the First Amendment."
And while male nude imagery saturates present day culture,
according to Mr. Vollmer, its intrinsic value and meaning is
less ingenious than in previous eras. Today nudes often function
as a sort of sensual wallpaper, which is highly eroticized,
but sexually bland, he says.
Men Without Suits bares masculine ideologies, sexual iconography,
and the issues of meaning and perception — from ancient
Greek athletes to early 19th Century muscle performers and the
aesthetic nudes of George Platt Lyons, to the pumped physiques
of comic book super heroes, the sexploitation in advertising
and today's body-conscious metrosexuals.
"Once again John Vollmer has created a visual epoch for
our visitors," says Dan Gluck, Museum founder and executive
director. "Just as he brought 2,500 years of Chinese erotica
to life in our second major exhibition Sex Among the Lotus,
he brings the American male nude to the forefront of discussion
in this exhibit."
Who makes the images? What is their purpose? Who consumes them?
The exhibition asks these and other questions, revealing the
answers in three divergent themes: Aesthetic Nude: Health and
Beauty, Beefcake: American Enterprise, and Naked Men: Commodity
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF SEX
The mission of the Museum of Sex, which opened in October 2002,
is to preserve and present the history, evolution, and cultural
significance of human sexuality. It is committed to open discourse
and exchange and to bringing to the public the best in current
scholarship in its exhibitions, programs, and publications.