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Major photographic exhibition opens on Valentine's Day at UMMA, Michigan

— February 2015

Associated media

Gilbert and George, Hill (1985)

HE: The Hergott Shepard Photography Collection

14 February–14 June 2015

For more than 25 years, Los Angeles-based collectors Alan Hergott and Curt Shepard have built a world-class collection of contemporary art that is focused on men and male identity as its subject matter. This exhibition features works from their vast holdings in photography. Guest curator Mario Codognato examines the lives of men in contemporary Western societies – with all their contradictions – through themes of competition and solidarity, confrontation with identity, and diverse explorations of the body and sexuality (as both sign and experience). Together, these thematic groups form a fictional, somewhat idealized, tale in 13 chapters, inviting viewers to reflect upon their own stories as well.

Drawing upon the Hergott Shepard collection as well as select works gifted by the collectors to the Hammer Museum at UCLA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), the exhibition will include more than 60 works by some important names in late 20th and early 21st century art, including Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Rineke Dijkstra, Gilbert & George, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Herb Ritts, Thomas Ruff, Andres Serrano, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Programme-related events

Exhibition and Gallery Tours 

Exploring Identities through Artistic Expression, a Valentine's Day Social with the Spectrum Center

Saturday, 14 February 3–5p.m.

Explore the exhibition HE: The Hergott Shepard Photography Collection (on view at UMMA February 14 - June 14, 2015) as it depicts masculinity in its many forms, as well as student art submissions to UMMA's Exploring Identities student engagement project inspired by the collection that reflect upon the construction of identity. 

Reflect on the collection and enjoy refreshments and a special musical performance by folk songstress Abigail Stauffer.

Guided Tour: HE: The Hergott Shepard Photography Collection

Sunday, March 8 and April 5, 2–3pm

Join docents as they explore the themes of the exhibition.

UMMA Dialogue: HE: The Hergott Shepard Photography Collection

Sunday, 22 March 3–5p.m.

Collectors Alan Hergott and Curt Shepard will be joined by Mario Codognato, HE exhibition curator and chief curator, 21er Haus in Vienna, noted scholar Richard Meyer, Stanford University’s Robert and Ruth Halperin professor in art history, author of What Was Contemporary Art? and co-author of Art and Queer Culture, and Ann Goldstein, former director of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and senior curator, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for an exploration of masculinity and gender from varied perspectives. Following the Dialogue, enjoy light refreshments, experience the exhibition, and attend the dance performance ‘Men! Men! Men!’ in the Museum Apse.

In Conversation: HE: The Hergott Shepard Photography Collection

Sunday, 26 April 3–4.30p.m.

       This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please register to secure your place by emailing

[email protected]

The photographs in this exhibition explore the relationship between male bodies and male identities – at work and at play, in fantasy and in reality. Brendan Fay, lecturer in history of art, will introduce the exhibition and its thematic approach to contemporary masculinity. The exhibition provides an ideal opportunity to consider the evolving significance of photographic portraiture alongside artistic strategies based on 'borrowed' images and staged fictions. It also offers an ideal venue to examine the scale, materials, and presentation strategies of contemporary photography.

UMMA has been supported for the Exploring Identities project by Arts at Michigan, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, The Program on Intergroup Relations, Sophomore Initiative, Spectrum Center, Trotter Multicultural Center, and Women’s Studies.

Lead support for the exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost and the University of Michigan Health System. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs, Department of the History of Art, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Institute for the Humanities, and Residential College, and the Katherine Tuck Enrichment Fund.

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