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Nakna män: Maskulinitet och kreativitet i svensk bildkultur 1900-1915
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Art History.
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Naked men : Masculinity and Creativity in Swedish Image Culture 1900-1915 (English)
Abstract [en]

At the turn of the 20th century, there was a notion in Europe that urbanisation and industrialisation had drained the human race of spiritual and physical energy. A particular concern was that men were being emasculated. An image of naked, athletic men was created, which was perceived to depict a form of unadulterated masculinity in touch with nature.

The aim of this dissertation is to demonstrate that “the image of the male nude” was a complex and multifaceted performance that depicted contradictory ideas of gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity. In addition, it aims at demonstrating the extensiveness of this motif in early 1900’s Sweden, not only in art but also in mass-produced images. Another aim is to show that images of naked men were used for different purposes by different groups of viewers.

The dissertation consists of three overall sections: Context, Image Culture, and Subject. Section I deals with the doctrines on mechanism and vitalism and with the discussions on homosexuality, gender differences, the working class, and nationalism in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Section II traces images of male bodies within the framework of sport cultures and bathing culture. Section III analyses the image of the male nude in the subject areas of antiquity, old Norse motifs, biblical motifs, allegorical personifications and symbolistic depictions.

Sports magazines depicted muscular men as examples of activity; health journals and medical books used them as visualisations of health; in the art world they symbolized an artistic reawakening, while the images were objects of desire in male homosexual circles. A masculine, athletic, heterosexual, short-cropped, bourgeois Swedish man with a moustache became a nationalistic figurehead. Hardness and physical inaccessibility were accentuated, at the same time as the nudity enticed the viewer to see, in the very same bodies, physical accessibility and tactile gentleness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Norstedts akademiska förlag , 2006. , 288 p.
Keyword [en]
image culture, visual culture, performativity, masculinity, male nude, queer studies, homosociality, vitalism, mechanism, physical culture, life-reform-movement, nationalism, artist’s role
Keyword [sv]
Eugène Jansson (1862–1915), JAG Acke (1859–1924)
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1275ISBN: 91-7227-496-4OAI: diva2:189762
Public defence
2006-12-08, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2006-11-16 Created: 2006-11-16 Last updated: 2015-03-17Bibliographically approved

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