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Men of Steel, Women of Wonder

Past Exhibition

Men of Steel, Women of Wonder

June 21, 2019–September 01, 2019

Cowden Gallery

Renée Cox, Chillin’ with Liberty, 1998, Cibachrome Print, 60 × 48 in., Courtesy of the artist, Photo courtesy of Long Gallery

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.

For news updates, follow the San Antonio Museum of Art on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter #MOSWOW.

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:
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 

This exhibition is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. It is generously funded by The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992, The USAA Foundation, Inc., and The Dalkowitz Charitable Trust.

This exhibition is supported by the City of San Antonio's Department of Arts & Culture.


Exhibition Gallery

Fahamu Pecou, Nunna My Heroes

Fahamu Pecou, Nunna My Heros: After Barkley Hendricks' "Icon for My Man Superman" 1969, 2011, Acrylic, gold leaf, and oil stick on canvas, 69 x 42 1/2 in., Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Gift of Marjorie and Michael Levine,  Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrian

Francis Criss, Say Shift

Francis Criss, Day Shift, 1943, Oil on canvas, 47 1/8 x 38 1/8 x 2 3/8 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2007.182, Photo: Dwight Primiano


Dulce Pinzón, Maria Luisa Romero from Puebla works in in a laundromat in Brooklyn, New York. She sends $150 a week

Dulce Pinzón, Maria Luisa Romero from Puebla works in in a laundromat in Brooklyn, New York. She sends $150 a week, 2005–2010, Archival c-print from analog image, Courtesy of the artist

Renée Cox

Renée Cox, Eruption (from the Rajé series), 1998, Cibachrome print, 60 x 48 in., Courtesy of the artist, Photo: Long Gallery 

Aphrodite Désirée Navab

Aphrodite Désirée Navab, World Summit from Super East/West Woman, 2002-2008, Archival C Print, 22 x 17 in., Courtesy of the artist 

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill, They Wonder, 2015, Performance, Public Communication: Performing Knowledge of the Body. Suplex, BLUE orange Contemporary, Houston, Texas. Photo documentation by Max Fields. 

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