Anthea Callen: Enduring Masculinity: the academic nude and ideals of male perfection

This lecture has been postponed to a later date due to unforeseen circumstances!

Thursday 13 March 2020, starting at 6:00 p.m.
VANDENHOVE Centrum voor Architectuur en Beeldende Kunst
Rozier 1, 9000 Gent.

Anthea Callen: Enduring Masculinity: het academische naakt en de idealen van mannelijke perfectieThe Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, like many art academies throughout Europe, was founded in the 18th century in emulation of the French Académie Royale de peinture et sculpture. Academic art’s aesthetic ideal and its highest form, the male nude, was central to the French curriculum, which began with copying the casts after Antique sculptures acquired by all such academies. Classical ideals of male bodily perfection whether Herculean or Apollonian were thus ingrained when pupils began Life classes: drawings by men, from the male nude. In conjunction with training in artistic anatomy (including dissection), classicism endowed academic artists with the powerful authority of both science and Greco-Roman ‘truth’. The rise and spread of these macho, racialised and ‘othering’ ideals coincided with the rise of colonisation, and their enduring tenacity from Winkelmann to Hitler is still manifest now in men’s health magazines, and body-building through to cage fighting and white (or black) supremacy.


Bio Anthea Callen

Art historian, art expert, lecturer and painter, Anthea Callen FRSA is Professor Emeritus of the Australian National University, Canberra, and Professor Emeritus of Visual Culture, University of Nottingham, UK. Internationally recognised as a specialist on Impressionist painting materials and techniques, her classic volume The Art of Impressionism: Painting Technique and the Making of Modernity has now been released as a Yale University Press e-book. Her latest book on landscape painting methods, The Work of Art: Plein Air Painting and Artistic Identity in Nineteenth-Century France is published by Reaktion Books (2015). Her new book Looking at Men: Art, Anatomy and the Modern Male Body (Yale, 2018), examines the close relationship of art and anatomy in the formation of modern ideals of masculinity and the male body. Callen appears regularly as an art expert on television, radio and in film.