Organized by curator Ilene Susan Fort, the exhibition celebrates the museum’s acquisition of Thomas Eakins' (1844-1916) last great sporting painting, Wrestlers (1899). The show features around 60 oil paintings, drawings, watercolors, photographs, and sculpture by the American artist.
Eakins’ last sporting images feature boxers and wrestlers and showcase the new indoor spectator sports that attracted the attention of middle and working-class enthusiasts. These paintings, some of which rank among the artist’s largest canvases, are ironically among his least known endeavors in the sporting genre. Boxing and wrestling imagery was typically modest in scale and relegated to journalistic reports and advertising.
The three canvas versions of the Wrestlers paintings (two of which now belong to LACMA) have not been seen together since they left the artist’s studio over a century ago. The wrestling paintings are shown along with a group of related wrestling photographs that were recently discovered and have never before been exhibited.
Manly Pursuits is supplemented by Tad Beck: Palimpsest, a small display of photographs by Los Angeles-based artist Tad Beck. A photographer, video artist, and teacher, Beck presents the nude male figure in relationship to his environment and the artist. Selections from Beck’s Palimpsest series, which are reconsiderations of photographs from Eakins’ Grafly Album (on view in Manly Pursuits) underscore the continuing relevance of Eakins’s late nineteenth-century exploration of the male body.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art Website
Please click here for a Culturekiosque archive exhibition review of "Thomas Eakins: An American Realist" at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.