Manpower Lectures | Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism

 —  6—7pm

event Details


Manpower: Myths of Masculinity brings into focus some of the many images of male bodies that have underpinned the rich holdings of Auckland’s public art gallery since its foundation in 1888 and in the process explores the complex relationships between people and art, and between men and masculinity.

Across lectures from four leading scholars, you will learn about the varying depictions of the male body and the ever-roaming male gaze in art and culture. Starting with an introduction to the exhibition, uncover the appeal and interpretations of artworks for Victorian-era collectors. Embark on a series of scholarly case studies starring the warriors of ancient Greece, the effete Victorian dandy, and the famous strongman Eugen Sandow, who toured New Zealand in 1902.  

Manpower: Myths of Masculinity was researched by Senior Curator of International Art Sophie Matthiesson and Assistant Curator, International Art Emma Jameson. 



This course comprises four lectures; three will be conducted live and in-person at the Gallery, one will be pre-recorded. Students can watch the pre-recorded lecture at home.

All students will receive a course syllabus with a recommended reading list as well as a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30). Tickets cover in-person admission to lectures one, two and three and online access to the fourth.

Manpower Lectures: Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism is a four-part lecture series. 

Lecture 1: Why Oscar Wilde mattered in Auckland: An introduction to ‘queering’ a colonial collection. 
Lecturer: Dr Sophie Matthiesson. 

Senior Curator of International Art, Dr Sophie Matthiesson explores some of the motivations behind the collecting and public display of male bodies in the early years of the Auckland Art Gallery (founded 1888) and considers the appeal and meaning of such frankly sensual images for their Victorian-era benefactors who purchased them. The notorious 1895 London trial and imprisonment of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde for homosexuality suddenly altered consciousness across the British Empire. It impacts can be seen, she argues, in public debates about masculinity in New Zealand, and in institutional attitudes to the male nude in art in the following decades. Click here for more information.

Lecture 2: Ancient Greek male identity and the modern world
Lecturer: Dr Anastasia Bakogianni

Drawing on heroes of classical mythology, the Iliad, Greek tragedy and their modern adaptations, Dr Anastasia Bakogianni explores what it meant to be a man in the ancient Greek world. Researching expectations placed upon men and the warrior ethos, she tracks its impact throughout the centuries and on the modern concept of masculinity. Click here for more information.

Lecture 3: The New Mail Order: Men, Muscles and Masculinity in Early Twentieth Century New Zealand
Lecturer: Dr Caroline Daley

When Eugen Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding, toured New Zealand in the summer of 1902-03, his aim was to reshape the nation. Long before the likes of Charles Atlas peddled mail order muscle programmes, the Sandow System was embraced by men throughout New Zealand. Eager to flex and pose and dream of a new male order, these men joined local gyms, entered bodybuilding contests, and even strutted their stuff in local beauty competitions. In this lecture, Dr Caroline Daley reveals the bodies of early twentieth century men and questions whether our fixation with rugby players, farmers and soldiers means we’re missing the pleasure that comes from gazing upon the world’s most perfectly developed man and his local acolytes. Click here for more information.

Lecture 4: Queer and Now: On Henry Scott Tuke’s ‘Companions’ (pre-recorded, available online)
Lecturer: Dr Jason Edwards

What's queer about long-nineteenth-century British art now? Exploring this question, Edwards addresses Henry Scott Tuke’s 1924 oil painting, Companions. Tuke has remained marginalised and proven difficult to canonise due to the open secret of the pederastic character of his work, at a moment in which childhood sexual abuse remains one of the key cultural narratives of our time. What might we learn from returning to Tuke’s shoreside scene and diving into its unknown waters?  Click here for more information.

This event will proceed at Red with:

If you are unable to attend this event because you are in self-isolation (because you have tested positive for Covid-19 or you have been identified as a close contact) you are entitled to a full refund.



Standard Members                                                                   $100
Open to AAG Members and those with valid guest passes. Includes admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

Standard Non-Members                                                           $190
Includes a one-year membership, admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

Standard Students                                                                    $80
With valid student ID. Includes admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

This event is part of our membership programme. Join us from $50 per year. 


Image credit: Hendrik Goltzius, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, Icarus, 1588. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1978. | Unknown‘The suicide of Ajax the Great. Etrurian red-figured calyx-krater’, c.400-350BCE. © The Trustees of the British Museum. | Benjamin J FalkEugene Sandow, Full-length Portrait, Standing, Leaning on Column, Facing Left, Wearing Wrestling Leotard, Roman Sandles, and Six Pointed Star Pendant, circa 1894. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. | Henry TukeCompanions, 1924. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr C Macindoe, 1924.



Auckland Art Gallery, Auditorium / Online
Members $100, Non-Members $190, Students $80
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Manpower Lectures: Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism