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Iconography and Icons

A man with a boxing helmet on and a mouth guard in his mouth. There are lights behind him and he is sweating.
Artist Unknown
Muhammad Ali
black and white photograph on paper
8 x 9 13/16 in. ( 20.32 x 24.92 cm )
Gift from the Collection of David S. Rosen MD, MPH
Rick Chapman
Shaquille O'Neal, West Hollywood, California, from "The ESPY Collection"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.5 cm x 27.8 cm);22 1/8 in x 18 1/8 in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm);10 3/16 in x 10 3/16 in (25.8 cm x 25.8 cm)
Gift of the artist
Rick Chapman
Sammy Sosa, Smile, Chicago, Illinois, from "The ESPY Collection"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.5 cm x 27.8 cm)
Gift of the artist
Rick Chapman
Sammy Sosa, Chicago, Illinois, from "The ESPY Collection"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.5 cm x 27.8 cm)
Gift of the artist
Rick Chapman
Brett Favre, Green Bay, Wisconsin, from "The ESPY Collection"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.5 cm x 27.8 cm);22 1/8 in x 18 1/8 in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm);10 3/16 in x 10 3/16 in (25.8 cm x 25.8 cm)
Gift of the artist
Rick Chapman
Lance Armstrong, Austin, Texas, from "The ESPY Collection"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in x 10 15/16 in (35.5 cm x 27.8 cm);22 1/8 in x 18 1/8 in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm);10 3/16 in x 10 3/16 in (25.8 cm x 25.8 cm)
Gift of the artist
Howard Bingham
Cleveland, from "Detroit Focus 2000"
black and white photograph on paper
14 in. x 11 in. ( 35.5 cm x 27.9 cm )
Gift of Detroit Focus 2000, and partial purchase with funds from the Jean Paul Slusser Memorial Fund
This black and white stereoscopic image features two images of a view of Buffalo Bill seated in an outdoor setting with a gun across his lap. It is surrounded by the text: Sample Set No. 1; “William F. Cody or Buffalo Bill”. <br />
Stereo Classics Studio
Stereoscope Image, Sample Set No.1: "William F. Cody or Buffalo Bill"
photograph on cardboard
3 3/4 in. x 7 in. ( 9.5 cm x 17.8 cm )
Gift of Margaret and Howard Bond
James Anderson
Hercules
albumen print on paper
7 3/4 in x 10 1/4 in (19.6 cm x 26 cm);14 5/16 in x 19 5/16 in (36.35 cm x 49.05 cm);10 3/16 in x 7 13/16 in (25.9 cm x 19.9 cm);9 13/16 in x 7 13/16 in (24.9 cm x 19.9 cm)
Transfer from the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
A man is potrayed with curly hair and beard, a stern facial expression, and a formal suit and bowtie. His gaze is slightly off-center. The words &quot;Frederick Douglass&quot; borders the piece along with the artist&#39;s signatures and the screenprint number.
Ben Shahn
Portrait of Frederick Douglass
screenprint on paper
22 1/16 x 16 15/16 in. (56 x 42.9 cm)
Gift of Warren M. Robbins
This color screenprint is separated into two main parts. At the top is a frame made out of unwrapped candy and wrapped candy bars with an image of a man flexing his arm, while a bikini-clad woman peeks from behind the bicep in the frame. The bottom half of the image has two blue and red stars, one on top of the other at the right, and a television to the left. The television has a handle at the top, with an arm coming from the upper candy-frame to hold the handle, and on the screen is a large moth on a red background.
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
Llalla Pallozza...Image fades but memory lingers on
screenprint on paper
14 15/16 in x 10 in (37.94 cm x 25.4 cm);19 3/8 in x 14 in (49.21 cm x 35.56 cm)
Gift of Professor Diane M. Kirkpatrick
A bust-length portrait of a man. He turns his body toward the left of the frame, his face turned toward the camera. His hair is styled in a mullet, and he wears a sports jersey.
Andy Warhol
Wayne Gretzky
Polaroid
4 1/4 in x 3 3/8 in (10.8 cm x 8.6 cm)
Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

When director George Butler's "Pumping Iron" was released in 1977, an entire generation of American men were exposed to Arnold Schwarzenegger and bodybuilding for the first time. While fitness had already been a growing national interest, "Pumping Iron" generated a bodybuilding craze among men, with Arnold becoming a figure of masculinity. Arnold's icon status led to significant material changes in the American landscape, not only generating a thriving fitness culture, but also shaping the bodies of generations of American men.

This collection of objects highlights male icons like Schwarzenegger, Ali, Armstrong, and Douglass. How does our perception of these images change based on our contingent ability to recognize their subjects as iconic figures? Decontextualized, do these images have meaning? 

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Last Updated

February 5, 2019 3:24 p.m.

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