Man Made: Thomas Eakins and the Construction of Gilded Age Manhood / Edition 1

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Often censured during his lifetime for his insistence on studying and painting from the nude, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) is now acclaimed as one of America's greatest realist painters. Man Made examines Eakins's art and life, illustrating how the artist used his canvases to cope with the complex requirements of Victorian gender. Martin Berger reads a series of Eakins's paintings, ranging from early to late works, giving a nuanced and elegant examination of Eakins's portrayal of white, middle-class manhood. This provocative cultural art history treats these paintings in terms of what they reveal about Eakins's own identity as well as the nation's changing ideals of manhood during the final years of the nineteenth century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520222090
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2000
  • Series: Men and Masculinity Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Berger teaches Art History and English at SUNY, Buffalo.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Method 1
Ch. 1 Manly Associations 7
Ch. 2 Complicating the Heroes of Modern Life 47
Ch. 3 Alternative Communities 85
Epilogue: Discourse and Agency 123
Notes 125
Bibliography 151
Index 159
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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thomas Eakins: A Continuing Topic of Speculation

    Thomas Eakins (1844 - 1916) is generally considered to be one of the greatest American artists who ever lived. His works continue to circulate in museum shows, separated into venues that feature portraiture, the American view of Europe, the at of medicine and the art of sports - a spread of interests not matched by any other painter from his time. There have been many books written about the various aspects of Eakins - his insistence on using the nude model in this classes that were for both men and women and the scandals that inclination produced, his involvement with photography, his fascination with the photographic explorations of man in motion of Eadweard Muybridge, his bold use of the male nude in his paintings that were viewed by a rigid Victorian audience, the question of his sexuality, etc.

    In this very brief and immensely readable book, MAN MADE: THOMAS EAKINS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF GILDED AGE MANHOOD, author Martin Berger takes on the stance that Eakins was a forerunner of the change in perception of the American male. It is not original thought but rather a distillation of ideas that many other historian and art critics have explored. That Eakins included African American men in his paintings as simply part of the image he was observing and preserving through paint on canvas. Some critics have stated that 'Martin Berger has been the most perceptive and sophisticated critic of masculinity in nineteenth-century American art. With this book he consolidates that analysis triumphantly--and extends its implications, first into a consideration of all of Eakins's oeuvre, and then into related discourses of sexuality, domesticity, and race. MAN MADE has useful things to say to scholars in all fields of American culture.'

    The book is strong and will be one that all those who deeply admire the art of Thomas Eakins will want to own. That it is the definitive discussion remains to be seen.

    Grady Harp

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