Superman and Wonder Woman, two of the most popular icons in American pop culture, first appeared in times of economic adversity and world war. These characters quickly emerged as embodiments of American morality, representing “truth, justice, and the American way.”
Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, examines the art world’s responses to Superman and Wonder Woman, ranging from their Depression-era origins to today’s contemporary interpretations. The exhibition features more than seventy works including paintings, photographs, photographs, installations, and videos by a wide range of artists, such as Laylah Ali, Dara Birnbaum, Renée Cox, Mary Beth Edelson, Fahamu Pecou, Pope.L, Mel Ramos, Norman Rockwell, and Jim Shaw, among others.
"Most of us connect to superheroes. They might be a touchstone of our childhood; we might like to intellectualize the myths, symbols, and narratives embodied in their character and actions; or we might respond emotionally to their superpowers and abilities to destroy the bad guys and save our world," said Suzanne Weaver, Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “In this exhibition, the artists who have interpreted these cultural icons with fresh eyes go deeper by exploring the relationship of Superman and Wonder Woman to national identity, American values, social politics, and the concept of humanity.”
Admission to the Museum, which includes the exhibition, is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students and military with ID. The Museum participates in the Blue Star program, and active military and up to five family members receive free admission to the Museum through Labor Day. Children 12 and under are always free. Please note during our free general admission hours (Tuesdays from 4–9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.), there is a $5 surcharge to see the exhibition.
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We recognize that Superman and Wonder Woman are familiar figures and may have more appeal for younger audiences. For parents and families, it’s important to know that in Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, there are a range of ways in which artists depict these characters. Some works in the exhibition represent them in familiar and heroic ways, while others use the characters to explore mature topics like race, gender, sexuality, and national identity.
Hear from the exhibition artists:
Dara Birnbaum: A Four-Decade Trajectory of Provocative Video Art
Tuesday, July 23 | 6:30–7:30 p.m. | Free
Jerri Allyn: Visiting Artist Workshop
Saturday, July 27 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
$35 members | $45 non-members | Register: samuseum.org/calendar
Enrique Chagoya: The Art of Appropriation from Pop Art to Reverse Anthropology and Reverse Modernism
Tuesday, August 6 | 6:30–7:30 p.m. | Free
Michael Ray Charles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Tuesday, August 20 | 6:30-7:30 p.m. | Free
Robert Pruitt: The Influence of Comics
Tuesday, August 27 | 6:30–7:30 p.m. | Free