Two Student-Curated Exhibitions on View

Beefcake: The Physique Photography of Dave Martin
Make Yourself at Home: Stanford Dorm Rooms 2006

December 13, 2006 – March 4, 2007

Stanford, California — The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents two small exhibitions that have been guest-curated by Stanford undergraduate students. “Beefcake: The Physique Photography of Dave Martin” and “Make Yourself at Home: Stanford Dorm Rooms 2006” draw upon university collections and resources to bring imaginative, academically grounded interpretations of art and installation concepts to museum visitors. Both are on view December 13, 2006 through March 4, 2007.

“Beefcake: The Physique Photography of Dave Martin” curated by Michele Kraus examines the genre of physique photography that dominated 1950’s homoerotic culture and inspired other artists. The term “Beefcake” refers to images of well-built men, images emphasizing ideals of shape and the aesthetics of body building. These images appeared most frequently in fitness magazines, which were hugely popular in the 1950s. Beefcake images had a strong impact on subsequent art historical movements, as can be seen in the much-exhibited work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Formal similarities abound—the aestheticization of the male body through dramatic lighting, powerful poses, and masculine directness. Martin’s photographs are part of the enduring legacy of the physique magazine culture. This exhibition is the first public display of selections from Stanford University’s collection of 2,600 Dave Martin photographs acquired from the artist in 2003.

“Make Yourself at Home: Stanford Dorm Rooms 2006” curated by Nisa Ari renews the concept of the “period room.” The period room codifies a certain cultural moment in history for the viewer by using the aesthetics of one specific room to generalize an entire period. Representation of an actual dorm room from the Stanford campus in 2006, along with brief historical documentation of Stanford dorm rooms from the opening of the university to the present, explore how people represent themselves through their living environments. In creating a contemporary room in the style of a period room, the exhibition promotes the viewers’ realization of the museum’s role in interpreting their own history.

“Beefcake” and “Make Yourself at Home” were developed by students for Art History professor Wanda Corn’s seminar “The Art Museum: History and Practice” taught in winter 2006, in collaboration with staff at the Cantor Arts Center. Student-curated exhibitions evolving from academic coursework are of particular interest to the Center. Students are immersed in the realities of professional practices while they work with museum and university staff to realize their visions. These two shows exemplify the wide-ranging exhibition concepts that students have been encouraged to explore. Each is drawn from resources on the Stanford campus. Each examines contemporary issues of museum display and challenges assumptions about the definition of art. The course and exhibitions were supported in part by the Constance Corcoran Miller Fund for Academic Initiatives.