Tough and Tender

NPG Larry Clark, Billy Mann 1963Photographs from internationally acclaimed artists Robert Mapplethorpe, Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Collier Schorr and Chris Burden along with contemporary Australian artists, Rozalind Drummond and Warwick Baker are calling the National Portrait Gallery home during the extraordinary exhibition, Tough and Tender.

Tough and Tender explores youth, the coming of age, intimacy and emotional vulnerability through photography. These landmark photographs, some of which have never been displayed before, explore the complexities of masculinity and gender within an intimate and raw framework composed with sensitivity and candour.

Tough and Tender is curated by Dr Christopher Chapman, Senior Curator, National Portrait Gallery who has maintained a long-term scholarly investigation of masculinity in visual art. He has written on the topic in his doctoral thesis which examined adolescent masculinity and themes of self-sacrifice in contemporary photography and film.

“We see boy hustlers acting tough in Larry Clark’s photos but we know they really crave protection and love,” says Chapman. “While Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos thrill to the sensation of smooth skin. These images show that when you reveal your deepest feelings, there’s always the risk of a broken heart,’ says Christopher.

Included in the exhibition, and for the first time, Collier Schorr’s exquisite photographs will be seen in this country. “Schorr’s explorations of gender and identity typify her fine art photographs which have never before been seen in Australia,” says Chapman. “In this exhibition her photographs of young German soldiers surrender to her camera.”

In ground-breaking performance art documented on video, Chris Burden’s physical trials strip back his own persona and the mythic ethos of manhood. The rare video documentation of performances from 1971 – 1974 has been lent by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York – which preserves international artists’ performance to video and video art.

Tough and Tender
National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition continues to 16 October 2016
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Larry Clark, Billy Mann 1963. gelatin silver photograph. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 1980