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Liberation through Photography

Ticket information

Through the medium of film and photography, this major exhibition considers how masculinity has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day.

Examining depictions of masculinity from behind the lens, the Barbican brings together the work of over 50 international artists, photographers and filmmakers including Laurie Anderson, Sunil Gupta, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien and Catherine Opie.

In the wake of #MeToo the image of masculinity has come into sharper focus, with ideas of toxic and fragile masculinity permeating today’s society. This exhibition charts the often complex and sometimes contradictory representations of masculinities, and how they have developed and evolved over time. Touching on themes including power, patriarchy, queer identity, female perceptions of men, hypermasculine stereotypes, tenderness and the family, the exhibition shows how central photography and film have been to the way masculinities are imagined and understood in contemporary culture.

The exhibition is reopen for a limited time at a reduced capacity, so tickets must be booked in advance.

This exhibition contains some works of an adult nature. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

This exhibition is also made possible through support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant from Art Fund

Lead sponsor

CALVIN KLEIN seeks to thrill and inspire their audience, while using provocative imagery and striking designs to ignite the senses. They are proud to support the Barbican’s Masculinities: Liberation through Photography exhibition.

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Subject to availability

14–25? Join Young Barbican for free

Weekdays (Mon – Fri)
Unwaged: £11
Students: £11
NHS staff: £11
Over 60s: £13
Art Fund Members: £7.50
Under 14s: Free

Weekends (Sat & Sun)
Unwaged: £12
Students: £12
NHS staff: £11
Over 60s: £17
Art Fund Members: £8.50
Under 14s: Free

Access Members: £7.50
If an Access Members needs an escort for their visit, please e-mail [email protected] to arrange.

Discounts are subject to availability.  They cannot be combined to make greater savings. Please bring proof of discount status where possible.

Ticket information

With thanks


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Exhibition Guide


‘Every inch is sublime, unabashed and unerring‘
‘This show, investigating what happened to old ideals of masculinity over the last half-century, is fascinating, shocking and seductive‘
‘The show is full of moments where ideas and ideals of masculinity are flipped and reversed.‘
‘This timely show of photography shows maleness at its most touching, tragic and extreme‘
‘It is impressively adult, full of excellently chosen art, more humour than I was expecting, and heap more wisdom.‘
‘This wonderful show may just change your life‘
‘Go and see this highly entertaining exhibition, particularly if you’re a twitchy, self-regarding male of whatever gender or ethnic orientation.‘

Explore our Masculinities collection

We put manhood under the microscope in a series of videos, articles, playlists and podcasts.


Art Gallery