In 1976, before becoming a film star or the governor of California, bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger posed at an unprecedented exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art entitled Articulate Muscle: the Body as Art. Turning on a rotating platform, his body, resembling a sculpture of Hercules, inspired several artists that evening, including Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe. How have classical representations of the athletic body inspired contemporary aesthetic, sexual, and behavioral ideals and ideologies?
Academic Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, author of the seminal work In praise of athletic beauty, and Jörg Scheller, art historian, curator of the exhibition Building Modern Bodies. The Art of Bodybuilding and author of a PhD thesis on Schwarzenegger, will discuss the iconography of the athletic body in history, the art of bodybuilding, and the aesthetic pleasures of sports spectatorship, in a talk moderated by former belly-dancer and contemporary art curator Martha Kirszenbaum, recently appointed curator of the French Pavillion of the Venice Biennale. From bodybuilders to footballers, athletes develop their bodies as sculptors, defining the limits of human performance, and today have become essential figures in the construction of national identities. What are the aesthetic, political and social implications of the athletic ideal? How does it contribute to defining our view of humanity?