Manly Art: 18 Virile Artists from the Past to the Present

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 1, 2013 · 134 comments

in Travel & Leisure


Editor’s note: This post was a collaboration between AoM and Sam Gambino, a manly artist in his own right.

My first exposure to art was in grade school when we had “art time.” My teachers were kind, middle-aged ladies who taught me to trace my hand and add colorful feathers to make a whimsical Thanksgiving turkey to take home to mom and dad. I finger-painted and made colorful Chinese lanterns. There were always big, bold, primary colors. The canvas of choice? Construction paper. While I enjoyed creating this simple, primitive art, I knew that there had to be more to it…that there had to be “real” art out there beyond just my amateur creations.

I then saw the Keep On Truckin’ image with those struttin’, free-wheelin’ bald guys, each with a huge left foot. There was a funny, “cool dude” vibe to the image that I liked.

From that point on, I started looking for cool “man art” in everything from TV Guide to humorous Wacky Packages and MAD magazine. As time passed, my search progressed into a quest for different representations of manly art. I noticed the artwork featured in old Perry Mason episodes. It was back there on the wall behind some guy who was either holding a glass of Scotch or lighting a cigarette with the clank of a Zippo. Sometimes, there was violence and despair in the slashes of paint on those abstract pieces. Ironically, though, the finished piece ended as one of sheer elegance and sophistication. I soon realized that manly art didn’t necessarily have to look like a caveman’s dinosaur sketch on a rock wall. I also liked the dark, moody paintings that were featured at the beginning of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. I guess the darker subject matter represented the “snakes, snails, and puppy-dog tails” aspect of art for me. I later got my hands on some old Man’s Life, Popular Mechanics, and Field and Stream magazines from the 1950s. The illustrations depicted guys who were fishing, hunting, or in gut-wrenching peril out in the wild. With all of these images burned into my mind, my own interpretation of masculine art began to take shape.

I came to realize that in my case, masculine art could encompass one or more of the following: humor, danger, despair, violence, aggression (in depiction or technique), manly activities, and anything else of interest to a man. There was also sophistication, elegance, and beauty. So, who’s to say what constitutes manly art? Below we’ve shared more than a dozen artists, both classic and modern, famous and less well known, some of which have shaped my own art, and all of which have a special quality that Brett and I feel connects with the masculine spirit.

George Bellows (1882 – 1925)

Bellows was a member of the “Ashcan School” — a group of artists who sought to realistically portray the working-class neighborhoods of New York City. Bellows most famously applied this gritty realism to boxing matches — showcased with a dark atmosphere into which the fighters had been placed with bright, forceful brushstrokes.


“Dempsey and Firpo” depicts the historic fight between Jack Dempsey and Luis Angel Firpo in 1923. At the end of the first round Firpo knocked Dempsey out of the ring with a right to his chin.


“Club Night”

LeRoy Neiman (1921 – 2012)

LeRoy Neiman first decided to be an artist while serving as a cook during World War II. When he wasn’t making pots of mashed potatoes, he painted murals on the kitchen walls, as well as on sets for Red Cross shows. After the war, he became one of the most popular artists in America, known for his colorful, impressionistic take on what he called scenes from the “good life” — oftentimes athletic events, but also leisure time and celebrities as well.


“Frank Sinatra”


“Homage to Ali” mingles color and texture with raw power, impact, and strength. Neiman successfully depicted pure masculinity using the most elegant of brush and palette strokes.

Jake Weidmann (1984 -)

We featured Jake Weidmann in our So You Want My Job series last fall, and his interview easily became the most popular of all time. Clearly we were not alone in admiring Jake’s disciplined quest to become one of only eleven “Master Penmen” in the world. Jake’s beautiful art combines his exquisite penmanship with evocative imagery — his pieces are truly one of a kind.


A 16th century poem of Eleanor Perry-Smith, rendered in Spencerian script, whispers out an ancient sailor’s tale.


Thomas Moran (1837 – 1926)

Thomas Moran was a member of the Hudson River School, a movement of artists who strove to capture one of the manliest of themes: the sublimity and majesty of nature. Moran’s paintings of the West pulsated with the energy of exploration and discovery, as well as the feeling of man’s smallness besides such awesome natural features. The inspiration that such scenes can impart is palpable.


“Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” — American landscape painters helped inspire the movement to preserve the most beautiful parts of the country’s wilderness and to create a national park system in order to do so. The sketches made by Thomas Moran when he accompanied a geological survey team into the then unknown Yellowstone area were later used to convince Congress to turn Yellowstone into a national park.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923 – 1997)

Lichtenstein was an American pop artist who became a leading figure of the new art movement of the 60s. He drew inspiration from comics and advertising.

His most famous work, "Whaam" was taken from DC Comics'  "All American Men of War," published in 1962.

His most famous work, “Whaam” was taken from DC Comics’ “All American Men of War,” published in 1962.

Lichenstein took one of the simplest of hardware store items and turned it into art for his painting "Electric Cord."  It's so simple, bold and shameless that no background color is needed. Interesting, "Electric Cord" was lost for 42 years after its owner sent it out to be cleaned and it never returned, and was just discovered in a warehouse last year.

Lichtenstein took one of the simplest of hardware store items and turned it into art for his painting “Electric Cord.” It’s so simple, bold, and shameless that no background color is needed. Interestingly, “Electric Cord” was lost for 42 years after its owner sent it out to be cleaned and it never returned. It was just discovered in a warehouse last year.

C.E. Monroe

Monroe’s art appeared on numerous covers of Field and Stream magazine during the 1950s and 1960s. He also created classic ad art for Winchester rifles and Savage Arms during those years. His work respectfully depicts men at work and play during a period of the 20th century when men were unapologetically depicted as not only strong, but as living examples of class and style.



Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909)

The preeminent artist of the Old West, Frederic Remington is most famous for his depictions of cowboys and Native Americans. Unlike his contemporaries, he focused on the men and animals of the West, rather than the landscape. He also painted military scenes; commanders of the Western Army would invite him into the field to do their portraits. He even went along with Theodore Roosevelt, an admirer of his work, as a war correspondent during the Spanish-American War, and captured the Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill.

"Dash for Timber"

“Dash for Timber”

"Ridden Down"

“Ridden Down”

Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957)

Rivera was a controversial Mexican artist — both praised for his rich, storytelling murals and frescoes, and criticized for his left-leaning politics. He often depicted the heroism and struggle of the worker, and preferred public murals as his medium for their ability to bring art to the masses.

Rivera considered one of his finest works to be "Detroit Industry." A series of 27 fresco panels, covering 447 square yards, it was completed with the support of Henry Ford between 1932-1933 for the Detroit Institute of Arts. In the epic mural, he expertly captured men of differing skills and ethnicity all toiling together in a cavernous automobile factory to achieve the same end result: putting America on wheels and down the road.  One can almost smell the oil, soot and metal dust when standing in front of this huge, striking snapshot of a day in the life of 1930's industrial America.

Rivera considered one of his finest works to be “Detroit Industry.” A series of 27 fresco panels, covering 447 square yards, it was completed with the support of Henry Ford between 1932-1933 for the Detroit Institute of Arts. In the epic mural, he expertly captured men of differing skills and ethnicity all toiling together in a cavernous automobile factory to achieve the same end result: putting America on wheels and down the road. One can almost smell the oil, soot, and metal dust when standing in front of this huge, striking snapshot of a day in the life of 1930s industrial America.


Ernie Barnes (1938 – 2009)

Ernie Barnes was one interesting cat. Not too many men become both an NFL football player and a renowned professional artist. Growing up under Jim Crow laws in North Carolina, Barnes had to study art only in books; his race barred him from museums. Bullied in high school, he got involved in athletics when a masonry teacher and weightlifting coach encouraged him to build his body. By senior year he was the captain of the football team, and went on to play in college and then professionally for the Colts, Titans, Chargers, and Broncos. He would sometimes get in trouble with his coaches for sketching during team meetings and even timeouts during games. After his playing days were through in 1965, his art finally took center stage — the league actually decided to keep him on as a salaried player, but commissioned him to do paintings rather than be on the field. Barnes’ art career took off, and he spent the next decades doing sports-themed pieces, depictions of life in black communities, and even album covers.

Barnes credited his football playing career with greatly influencing his work; during games he was hype-aware of how his body was moving and took notes on the feelings, attitude, and expression these movements created alone and as he collided with others. In Sunday's Heroes he depicts determination, danger, competition and camaraderie all with paint and brush. The characters actually appear to be moving on the canvas.

Barnes credited his football playing career with greatly influencing his work; during games he was hyper-aware of how his body was moving and took notes on the feelings, attitudes, and expressions these movements created alone and as he collided with others. In “Sunday’s Heroes” he depicts determination, danger, competition, and camaraderie, all with paint and brush. The characters actually appear to be moving on the canvas.

When Barnes was eighteen he visited the recently desegregated North Carolina Museum of Art. When he asked the docent where he could find "paintings by Negro artists," she replied. "Your people don’t express themselves that way." Twenty-two years later he was given a solo exhibition at the same museum, hosted by the governor of North Carolina.

When Barnes was eighteen he visited the recently de-segregated North Carolina Museum of Art. When he asked the docent where he could find “paintings by Negro artists,” she replied, “Your people don’t express themselves that way.” Twenty-two years later he was given a solo exhibition at the same museum, hosted by the governor of North Carolina.

Nicholas Coleman (1978 – )

Nicholas Coleman is a modern artist I discovered because he follows the Art of Manliness on Twitter. I really dig his work, which aims to preserve the history of the American West and reminds me of my grandfather. Coleman says he works to give his pieces a sense of realism as well as a “certain amount of spontaneity and a slight impressionistic feel…that lets the viewer participate in the work.” He endeavors to create “a connection between his paintings and the observer by invoking a mood that the viewer can walk into.”


Jim Flora (1914 – 1998)

Jim Flora was a children’s book author and illustrator, a commercial illustrator, and a fine artist, but is most well known for inking the covers of  cool jazz and classical LPs in the 1940s and ’50s. He infused fun, mischief, music, and movement into his work with playful abandon.

This piece is from his Dig You Later series of illustrations created in 1955.  Each illustration features a "dude" who's having a ball while creating the coolest sounds around with the jazzy instrument of his own choosing.

This piece is from his “Dig You Later” series of illustrations created in 1955. Each illustration features a “dude” who’s having a ball while creating the coolest sounds around with the jazzy instrument of his own choosing.

Both pieces used with permission. © The Heirs of James Flora; courtesy

Both pieces used with permission. © The Heirs of James Flora; courtesy

C.M. Coolidge (1844 – 1934)

How could a list of manly art be complete without some dogs playing poker? Commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars, the sixteen-part series of oil paintings was done by C.M. Coolidge, an artist with little formal training. The pieces feature anthropomorphized dogs smoking cigars and drinking while playing high-stakes poker. The painting “A Friend in Need” even depicts “cheating for charity.” Should a man compromise his character to help the underdog? Evidently, Coolidge thought so. Either way, this series is timeless and isn’t expected to fade away for at least another one hundred and nine years.

"A Bold Bluff"

“A Bold Bluff”

"A Bold Bluff"

“A Friend in Need”

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

The famous Van Gogh may not be the first artist that leaps to mind when you think of manly art, but his style had rough beauty that was both eloquent and often rather masculine.

"Skull With Burning Cigarette"

“Skull With Burning Cigarette”

Van Gogh's subject matter covered all bases, but one of my all-time favorites of his is "The Night Cafe." There are beautiful brush strokes and colors, but it's unmistakably masculine.  I despise the term "man cave," but I can almost smell the whiskey and pipe tobacco when I look into this painting with its parlor of tables and billiard balls waiting for the "break."

Van Gogh’s subject matter covered all bases, but one of my all-time favorites of his is “The Night Cafe.” There are beautiful brush strokes and colors, but it’s unmistakably masculine. I can almost smell the whiskey and pipe tobacco when I look into this painting with its parlor of tables and billiard balls waiting for the break.

Norm Saunders (1907 – 1989)

Saunders illustrated for pulp magazines, comic books, trading cards, crime novels, and men’s adventure magazines, most notably beginning in the 1930s, and continuing through the 1960s. He was a master at depicting a moment of desperation or distress between shady or campy characters, with his work being marked by a masculine and even risque edge (he was known for illustrating beautiful dames). Saunders could arguably be categorized as the “Mickey Spillane” of the art world.



Robert Williams (1943 – )

Williams is classified as an “underground” or lowbrow artist who got his start as an illustrator, oil painter, and cartoonist in the 1960s. Having been kicked out of school in the ninth grade, he headed to California where he would end up rubbing shoulders with other anti-establishment cartoonists like R. Crumb and become immersed in the state’s hot-rod culture. His car-themed pieces tend to tell an irreverent story of speed, danger, and sometimes, revenge.


hot rod

Robert Wood (1889 – 1979)

English-born, when Robert Wood emigrated the United States, he criss-crossed the continent, looking for beautiful landscapes to capture. He was a prolific artist, sometimes finishing a painting every day, and had completed over 5,000 works by the time of his death. His beautiful landscapes were some of the most reproduced of the 20th century. His seascapes can be moody and unsettling at times with waves crashing under a threatening sky.  However dramatic, much of Wood’s work has a bold, aggressive beauty that sets it apart from the work of other landscape artists.



Arnold Friberg (1913 – 2010)

Friberg studied with Norman Rockwell at the Grand Central School of Art and his paintings have the same kind of idealized richness that the latter was famous for, but with a little more realism and ruggedness. During WWII, he was given the chance to be a captain and stay stateside illustrating recruitment posters, but decided to go to the front instead, though he still employed his artistic skills there in drawing maps. He also spent three years working on the pre-visualization posters for Cecille DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.

We didn’t hear back from the Friberg estate with permission to reproduce a couple of his paintings in time for the publication of this article, but you can see a whole bunch of his work on this article we did  a few years ago dedicated to him.

Sam Gambino

As an artist myself, I like to use my love of classic ad art to take a humorous “jab” at men and their weaknesses, egos, insecurities, and/or shortcomings. Frequently using unattractive characters from obscure pop culture sources, I look for humor in depicting them as common men who are dealing with normal issues of the average joe. This condition can be seen in the painting “Insecurity”.
I also have a definite appreciation for still life art that centers around classic and vintage objects of the classic male: cigars, vintage ashtrays, playing cards, even vintage matchbooks, to name a few. “The Back Room at the Belmar” is one such example.


backroom at belmar
What are your favorite examples of manly art? Tell us below!

{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rich April 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I love me some John Sloan and Edward Hopper. Glad to see Bellows already on the list.

2 Chris April 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

You can’t have this list without Frank Frazetta on it. Not only was his art brilliant and ran the gamut from fantasy art to sports art and illustration, the dude also was so damn manly that after a stroke rendered him unable to paint with this right hand, he re-learned the skill with his left.

Charles M. Russell needs on the list as well.

3 Blake April 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Norman Rockwell will always be at the top of the list for his depiction of wholesome, entirely manly values.

4 Gary April 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Charles Russell? Robert Bateman?

5 Explodian April 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I feel like this list is sorely lacking without Frank Frazetta.

6 Kent Sanders April 1, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Guys – GREAT article. Very well-researched and written. Thank you!

I have always enjoyed Da Vinci’s work. Of course he was a great painter, but I think I’m more impressed with his engineering designs and inventions. There is something intriguing about a man who can do great artwork, but also design contraptions for warfare.

7 Francis Headley April 1, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Great article! I’m not a man of art myself but sometimes things come around that make you question what you value.

8 Nicholas April 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I’m shocked that Norman Rockwell isn’t on this list. What could possibly disqualify him?

9 ELM April 1, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Wonderful. Thank you!

10 Jim Zielbauer April 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Manly Art??? Paintings by Gil Elvgren..

11 Dave April 1, 2013 at 11:58 pm

How could you leave out Al Bean? Travel to the moon and then paint it – that’s pretty manly art.

12 Alan H. April 2, 2013 at 12:07 am

I like Norman Rockwell as much as the next guy but his art has never struck me as particularly manly. Wholesome and sweet for sure, but doesn’t call to my masculine spirit. Reminds me of my mom more than anything.

For an addition I’d put in a vote for Caton Woodville — great depictions of war.

If you made a special edition of manly RELIGIOUS art, then I’d throw in my hat for Caravaggio. His paintings make me feel both religious and manly.

13 Stuart April 2, 2013 at 12:17 am

I’d add JMW Turner to the list. The fighting Temeraire in particular.

14 Christopher April 2, 2013 at 12:19 am

Check out John Charles Dollman, English painter in the late 19th century early 20th Century, especially “A Viking Foray”, “A London Cab Stand”, “A Very Gallant Gentlemen”, and “Ride of the Valkyr”, which I actually used as inspiration for a half-sleeve tattoo.

15 John Lucas April 2, 2013 at 12:44 am

I see that Frank Frazetta has already been mentioned, but mention should also be made of Alfred Waud as well as all the other Civil War battlefield artists.

16 Simon April 2, 2013 at 12:51 am

What about Ralph Steadman?

17 Carson April 2, 2013 at 1:22 am

I really like The Zaporozhye Cossacks by Ilya Repin. It is a manly scene with a lot going on. It’s not American or anything (I felt the list favored American Art), but it is an awesome piece from a manly Russian artist.

18 David April 2, 2013 at 1:25 am

A trip across America’s northern border will introduce you to the Group of Seven, and its successor the Canadian Group of Artists, painters who transformed the world of landscape painting. One of their number, heir to a massive manufacturing empire, backed the group’s annual expeditions to rural locations. He would hire a boxcar to be parked on a remote siding for them to camp in while painting the scenery around them.

19 Derek April 2, 2013 at 1:41 am

Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland.

20 Gabe April 2, 2013 at 2:14 am

Gustave Courbet – especially- L’Hallali du cerf,1866-1867
N.C. Wyeth- especially – Alaskan mail carrier

21 Jack April 2, 2013 at 2:28 am

Yo, you neglected to mention LeRoy Neiman’s Rocky paintings. A great manly artist painting an all-time great man movie.

22 Ryan April 2, 2013 at 2:57 am

Robert Crumb?

23 Stan April 2, 2013 at 3:09 am

Good article, I have a Robert Williams print next to some David Mann stuff. If you guys like western paintings check out Fred Oldfield. The man’s 95 years old and still painting in Washington.

24 Ara Bedrossian April 2, 2013 at 5:36 am

Art taps that valuable right brain stuff that drips with creativity and gets us making stuff that matters.

25 Joel D Canfield April 2, 2013 at 5:42 am

Already mentioned, but I’ll take Charlie Russell over Remington, even for manliness (Russell balanced the black and white horses better in his choice of subject matter.)

And Frank Frazetta, yeah. I cried like a baby when all 100+ of my original Ace editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs books with FF covers were destroyed by water.

26 Mark Thomas April 2, 2013 at 6:27 am
27 Rohit Ramachandran April 2, 2013 at 6:33 am


Some comical, some wild, some lively, some aggressively beautiful and some even tell a story. But they’re all so captivating.

28 L. C. Clower April 2, 2013 at 6:39 am

I would add “Spitting the Ball” by Remington,
where you see a man loading a cap and ball rifle while galloping a horse through a buffalo herd.

29 John Brauer April 2, 2013 at 6:42 am

I like the suggestions for Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper, but Winslow Homer is the one that seems a glaring omission from this list. The best of the hudson types, with periods of New England ocean work and White mountain paintings, lots of focus on the people, working and playing in the area.

30 Chris B. April 2, 2013 at 6:46 am

N.C. Wyeth illustrated all of the classic novels I read as a kid: The Black Arrow, Robin Hood, King Arthur, etc. Wonderful Paintings.

Howard Pyle- similar style to Wyeth, produced iconic images of pirates. See “Marooned.”

31 David Y April 2, 2013 at 6:56 am

I’ll put in a plug for N.C. Wyeth. His paintings are pretty manly.

32 Richard Williams April 2, 2013 at 6:59 am

I love the work of Civil War artist, Paul Strain.

33 Robert Magistrado April 2, 2013 at 7:17 am

Norman Rockwell is on my personal list :) For example, his “Freedom of Speech” particularly evokes the strong, dignified, and respectful conviction of a man. Rockwell also impressively depicted the boy scouts (of America) in action – boys doing the jobs of men.

34 KHC April 2, 2013 at 7:38 am

I’ll chime in another vote for Charles M. Russell. I grew up in the countryside that he painted – I learned to see beauty in starkness and to love my local history because of his work.
Another chime in for Frazetta and Steadman – and just because his medium was comics, don’t exclude Jack Kirby. The man was a genius.

35 Evan April 2, 2013 at 7:45 am

Saw it in the comments, but I second:

Winslow Homer

also, see:

Tim Cox, American Western art

36 Doug W April 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

Gustav Rehburger. Responsible for a lot of iconic ad images but this from a series for Marlboro in the 50s is one of my favorites. I am a composer and have a framed print above my desk: There were six images in the series, here is more about them and Rehburger in general:

37 Grant April 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

Let’s not forget Bill Watterson!

Charles M. Russell, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Charles Gibson, Gustave Dore and Winslow Homer are all top notch!

38 Bob W April 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

Two additions: Don Troiani and Rube Goldberg. Troiani is one of the best historical artists around, and has painted a wide variety of historical scenes that are impeccably researched. And on a totally unrelated note, cartoonist Rube Goldberg elevated the manly trait of tinkering to an altogether new level.

39 Andy April 2, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’d suggest Francisco Goya, especially his later, darker paintings. Then of course there’s the infamous “Black Paintings”.

40 T.M. Everson April 2, 2013 at 9:02 am

I agree that Frazetta belongs on the list, and definitely need Winslow Homer. He had more manly art in his handlebar mustache than most have in a long and promising career.

41 Heather April 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

As I am a Canadian I would suggest Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven and Robert Bateman. Thanks for such a great article

42 Nick April 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

I always enjoy some Terry Redlin.

43 Robyn April 2, 2013 at 9:47 am

John Schoenherr – especially his depictions of nature and animals. I like his technique of pen and ink on Ross scratchboard which is unavailable today.

44 Alexander Camarillo April 2, 2013 at 9:47 am

Let’s not also forget Milton Caniff!

45 Guy April 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

Bob Ross anyone!!, I love me some happy little trees.

46 Jay Parnell April 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

There are several artist who fit the bill for manly artists (painters). Here are a few illustrators to consider: Marshal Arisman (Black Elk series), Brad Holland (editorial work for Playboy), and Owen Smith. Winslow Homer is a big miss. It’s like talking about back to nature writers and forgetting to mention Herny David Thoreau. There is also NC Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth. Steve Huston, is a contemporary painter who focuses on boxers, construction works and other men at work images. Nice article. I look forward to reading the articles featuring manly musicians and writers.

47 Ben April 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

Bicycle Sculpture Artist, Mark Grieve

48 Rich April 2, 2013 at 10:43 am

Definitely need to check out Fabian Perez.

49 John April 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

Anyone from the Cowboy Artists of America:

50 Kent April 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

I love Jake Weidmann’s work. I’d love to see him do a piece for Rudyard Kipling’s “if” poem. I would get a canvas print of that for sure.

51 H William Smith April 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

Picking Remington over Russell is odd because Charlie actually lived his Art. What about Mort Kuntzler, Dan Troiani or any of the excellent historical artists whose themes are definitely masculine, well executed, and interesting. Finally, how about Monte Dolak?

52 Terry April 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

I’ll put in another vote for Frank Frazetta, as well as one of his modern heirs, Frank Cho.

I also enjoy classic illustrators like N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.

I’d also suggest Albrecht Durer.

53 Nicholas C. April 2, 2013 at 11:49 am

Im thinking there could be a series of articles written and more artist put a that amazing list! :) What a great subject to write about, there definitely is a fine line when it comes to “manly” art. Like Jack London who has inspired quite a few of my own paintings, He once wrote “I want to be free, to write of what delights me, whensoever and wheresoever it delights me. No office work for me; no routine; no doing this set task and that set task. No man over me.” Since I was a kid I have worked hard to do just that. (except I paint) I have friends who don’t think what I do is a real job. Well it is.

54 S. Peterson April 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Jack Kirby would’ve been a nice addition to this list.

55 James Friel April 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Frazetta and N.C.Wyeth certainly belong on the list. Among cartoonists, I’d suggest Bill Mauldin and Milton Caniff as well.

56 Greg S. April 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Great article, but disappointed you left off the manly Philadelphian, Thomas Eakins. His portraits like ‘The Thinker’ and his landscapes of sculling on the Schuylkill are fantastic looks at the life of the common person.

57 Bill R April 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

A great list and several I’ve not known of including those mentioned in the comments. But I think Thomas Hart Benton should have made the list as well.

58 Joe B April 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Anyone know where I can get prints by C.E. Monroe or Diego Rivera? Reproduction prints.

59 Jeremy Anderberg April 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

One of my favorites of late is Albert Bierstadt. He painted super manly landscapes of the West, and has one of Colorado’s most popular (and most hike-able) fourteeners named after him. Take a look at all his works:

60 Nathan Evans April 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

In addition to Hopper, Rockwell, and Bierstadt, I would add popular artist Paul Detlefsen to the list:

You have likely seen his work hanging in your grandparents’ homes or garages. It was estimated that in the 60′s over 80 percent of Americans had seen his work.

Another favorite not obscure to people living in Denver is Allen Tupper True:

True primarily painted murals featuring scenes of Western life. His style feels both nostalgic but also strikingly modern. Beautiful scenes of the people who built this country during that era, as well as authentic Native American depictions.

61 Kristofer April 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Another vote for Bill Waterson. The art in his comics may not seem ‘manly’ at first glance, but for me ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ serves as a reminder of what is was like to be a kid, from the mundane (everyone is a million feet taller than you) to the surreal (looking out your window and seeing a Martina landscape). And let’s not forget the ever-faithful imaginary friend. I personally think it’s extremely important for a man (or any adult, and particularly parents) to remember what is was like to be a kid, and what it’s like to see something from a kid’s perspective.

62 Kristofer April 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Oh, and let’s not forget Mr. Watterson’s über-manly determination to keep absolute creative control over his work.

63 Christopher Dart April 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Great list!

I would also add the very athletic art of American Thomas Eakins (pronounced like ache-ins):

The English landscapes of J.M.W. Turner, which frequently depict the power of nature, sometimes in almost violent abstraction:

And the winsome, almost playful portraits of American frontier life by George Caleb Bingham:

A contemporary artist who DEFINITELY fits well within Gambino’s list here is Owen Smith. I love this guy’s work. The way he depicts skin and musculature is amazing. Very pulp fiction-y and he has an affinity for boxers, industrial workers, and hot dames…

Lastly, almost anything curated by the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood, CA. It is an epicenter for contemporary/lowbrow/pop/kustom/postmodern art, most of which is pretty darn masculine when compared to many other art movements. It’s the type of art you’ll see in say, Juxtapoz magazine. Some of it is pretty crazy stuff!

64 Mike April 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I’ll add my vote to the N.C. Wyeth camp. I love his depictions of pirates.

I agree with Bill Waterson too. One of the best portrayers of male youth.

65 John April 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

i dont know how manly they are, but bob ross an norman rockwell are two of my favorites.

66 Joshua April 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I’d suggest Tom Thomson, or any of the Group of Seven.

67 Mato Tope April 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Karl Bodmer would be a worthy addition especially for his vibrant paintings of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes who lived along the Missouri River.

68 Ben "Benpercent" April 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

That next to last painting *Insecurity* looks exactly like the face masks the actors wore in the Twilight Zone episode *Eye of the Beholder*.

69 Mark B April 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I’d like to “2nd” Terry’s Howard Pyle nomination – Book of Pirates and Book of The American Spirit are showcases for his work. Wyeth was one of his many students.

70 MattyP April 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Where’s Bob Ross?

71 Jon April 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I have two for you, Cliff Cramp:

He is a professor of illustration at CSU Fullerton. He has produced the artwork for innumerable DVD releases including the Princess Bride re-release and the recent Star Wars Blu-Ray release. That is in addition to his prolific portfolio that focuses on everything from classic cars and WW2 aviation to classic plein air paintings.

72 Art Ed April 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Alexander Calder was absolutely manly creating everything from toys to giant stabiles and mobiles. Drove a LaSalle convertible with the (broken) top down year-round in Connecticut wearing a sheepskin jacket he made. The guy is my art hero.

David Smith is also to be reckoned with. Welder turned sculptor. Case closed.

73 2pint April 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Great post. I would add the art of Maynard Dixon. Classic western and depression art.

74 Mike M. April 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm
75 LPB April 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Big second on Gil Elvgren and CM Russell, but please consider both Jo Kotula and James Bama, who both did some of their early work producing cover art for Aurora Model kits in the ’50 and ’60s (where a lot of us really got our first exposure to art).

Bama went on to specialize in western style art.

Plus, whoever it was that did the cover art for the Louis l’Amour novels.

76 Dan April 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I think Winslow Homer is the glaring omission from the list. Depicting the men working against the strength of the mighty ocean to bring in their haul, to the more tender side of men courting women in the summer. I don’t know how he isn’t one of the manliest artists in history.

77 Greg Sobran April 3, 2013 at 12:35 am

Joquim Sorolla is at the top of my list. He painted 6 foot canvases outdoors regularly. A friend of John Singer Sargent, he is very famous in Spain, but overlooked by the Anglos. He was an absolute master of color and strong brushwork.

78 Kelly April 3, 2013 at 7:05 am

I’m sorry but I’m afraid you have in my humble opinion forgotten the most important of all, Alberto Vargas of Playboy fame.

79 Dave G April 3, 2013 at 8:06 am

Albrecht Dürer, his “Knight, Death, and the Devil” is a manly masterpiece showing the chivalric knight traveling the road of life looking not behind him at the devil nor distracted off his path by death, the knight is accompanied by faithful companion, man’s best friend. A masterpiece!

80 Bill April 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

I have always been partial to other Charles M. Russell. He painted striking landscapes and other wilderness and western themes. If you are ever around Oklahoma City, stop by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame to see some pretty awesome works of art and museum quality displays.

81 joe nason April 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

I think the name is Wooton, an aviation artist. He came to mind when lichtenstenstein appeared in this post.

82 Ming Bucibei April 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

Brian Yoder’s GoodArt Gallery
Mar 18, 2006 – Want to know where other GoodArt fans are? Want them to know where you are? Go over to and have a peek at …

i agree with Frank Frazetta,

Ming Bucibei

83 Ming Bucibei April 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

Brian Yoder’s GoodArt Gallery
Mar 18, 2006 – Want to know where other GoodArt fans are? Want them to know where you are? Go over to and have a peek at …

i agree with Frank Frazetta

Ming Bucibei

84 Matthew April 3, 2013 at 10:27 am
85 Bruce McKay April 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

I would like to introduce you to the art of Fred Machetanz, my grandfather’s nephew, who depicts the Golden Age of Alaska, after the Goldrush and before Big Oil.

86 Brett Wilmore April 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

This is some excellent manly art set to great Ronette’s song “He’s a Rebel” …by an artist I know :-)

87 Joe April 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

Frazetta was awesome. He should def be on the list.

88 Kit Maira April 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

My vote goes to David Mann
Biker Artist for Easyriders magazine

89 Joe April 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm

For two moden artists, how about David Mann:
and David Uhl:

90 Nick Dranias April 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

What about Winslow Homer!

91 Kent Helms April 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I would like to include Bradley Chance Hays.
A professional rodeo cowboy, Chance brings a fresh eye & style with his work. I’ ve known his father & uncles for 30 years and have been witness to Chance’s evolution as a man & artist.

92 Gar April 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Nick Dranias is right,…what about Winslow Homer, one of the best American artists ever. His watercolors are magnificent and extremely skillful. Watercolor is one of the hardest art skills to master and do well.

93 David April 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Interesting article and I met some new names, but I was surprised that my favorite, Edward Hopper, wasn’t among them.

94 Jeff April 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Frazetta isn’t IN the top ten, he IS the top ten. Second best starts at number eleven.

95 Alex April 4, 2013 at 8:46 am

Who did the painting at the beginning of this article?

96 JB April 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

You know I actually would add Norman Rockwell. Great Americana art that frequently had great reflections of men in them in particular the role of men as fathers.

Also I cannot strongly recommend strongly enough Duke Beardsley. A great modern cowboy artist who lives on a cattle ranch in Colorado.

97 Brandon April 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

Forgive the shameless self promotion but my focus is actually on making what I consider “manly art” generally based around men I personally admire. I am actually a colorblind artist so my art often has a rather unique look to it.

There are three pieces here (Winston Churchill, Clint Eastwood, and one political piece…hope you aren’t easily offended) that are a small sampling of my work.

98 Erik April 4, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I’m going to go with Norman Rockwell, for one reason. He painted not what he was seeing, but what what he wished he saw.

99 Dubulous April 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I’ve been an enormous fan of Justin Bua for the 12 years or so. Any fan of hip hop and art who does not know this man’s art, should immediately google his name….you’ll thank me later!

100 Ivan April 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

For anyone that likes Motorsport, Alan Fearnley is great. Here are a 2 examples:


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