Male nude exhibit sparks discussion at The Benton

The Benton Museum hosts an art panel titled "Exploring Masculinity" in regards to the "Stark Imagery: The Male Nude in Art" on Friday evening. Daniel Silvermint an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut offers his thoughts. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Students, faculty and community members gathered at the “Stark Imagery: The Male Nude in Art” exhibit at the University of Connecticut’s William Benton Museum of Art to take part in a panel discussion led by three distinguished guests, Sherry Buckberro, Thomas Long and Daniel Silvermont.

“I thought the event was great fun and had lots of discussion, It felt, to me, successful and I enjoyed myself,” said Sherry Buckberro, the chair of the art history department at the University of Hartford.

The panel discussed issues surrounding male nudity in artwork, both in contemporary and historical art. The conversation was lively and took on a natural ebb and flow as many in attendance shared their reactions to the work around them.

One particularly lively conversation centered on the ‘80s and the artwork of Robert Mapplethorpe. Spearheading this conversation was Thomas Long, an associate professor-in-residence for the UConn School of Nursing, where he teaches a course on masculinity. His research focuses on representations of the body, health, illness and health professions.

“I was reminded the physique of man represents something in the eyes of gay me,” Long said commenting about the artwork of the exhibit reflecting on it not only from an academic standpoint, but also as a gay man.

Long discussed gay male art and its prominence throughout the ‘80s, speaking about Mapplethorpe as a pioneer of this movement. Robert Cosgrove, the former head of the Studio Arts Department at UConn, taught Mapplethorpe.

The Benton Museum hosts an art panel titled "Exploring Masculinity" in regards to the "Stark Imagery: The Male Nude in Art" on Friday evening. The panel consisted of from left to right Thomas Long an Associate Professor-in-Residence in the School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut, Daniel Silvermint an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut, and Sherry Buckberrough who serves as the Chair of the Art History Department at the University of Hartford. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

“I thought the event was wonderful.  This went past masculinity and went into in-depth conversation of the culture we live in and the beauty in the art that is here,” said Mac Cherny, an eighth-semester theater studies major.

Another interesting discussion that took over the panel was about why so many of the photographed pieces are in black and white, as the exhibit is largely photography based. The exhibit is largely photography based. One such conversation surrounded black and white photography filters as a means of making something unrealistic. The panel and those in attendance discussed the artistic qualities of the material, and each panelist shared their take on why black and white filters are so popular not just in high art, but also in today’s society.  Ultimately the discussion yielded the concept as a means in which to make something seem unreal; after all, the world isn’t black and white in the physical or metaphorical sense.

“It fulfills the desire to look,” Buckberro said. “But if they were real bodies, you’d be embarrassed to look.”

“I honestly forgot I was at UConn. This was refreshing,” Shemona Singh, a fourth-semester computer science major, said. “I love that there is a place on campus I can go to talk about this content.”


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.