Archive for the 'Australian writing' Category

20
Jan
23

Text: ‘Golden splendour: privilege, ceremony and racism in 1920s-1930s Australia’ on the photo album ‘John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell (1892-1960), 1922-1933’ Part 2

January 2023

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this posting contains images and names of people who may have since passed away.

 

 

W Lister Lister (27 Dec 1859 - 06 Nov 1943) 'The golden splendour of the bush' c. 1906

 

W Lister Lister (27 Dec 1859 – 06 Nov 1943)
The golden splendour of the bush
c. 1906
Oil on canvas
Frame: 294 x 245.0 x 13.5cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

 

Abstract

Discovered in an op shop (charity shop in America), this is the most historically important and exciting Australian photo album that I have ever found.

Belonging to John “Jack” Riverston Faviell, a senior New South Wales public accountant and featuring his photographs, the album ranges across the spectrum of Australian life and culture from the East to the West of the continent in the years 1922-1933. A list of locations and topics can be seen below. I have added additional research text, posters and photographs to help illuminate some of the issues under consideration.

Given its importance in documenting through photographs regional NSW, Indigenous Australians and the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the album is now in the State Library of New South Wales collection.

 

Keywords

Australian culture, Australian identity, Australian colonialism, Indigenous Australians, photography, photo album, Australian photography, Australian vernacular photography, racism, Australian racism, racism in Australia, White Australia, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Trans-Australian Railway, State Library of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia, rural New South Wales, country races, Kalgoorlie Boulder, pearling, gold mining, Year of Mourning, Invasion Day, National Day of mourning, First Nations of Australia, reconciliation, pastoralism

 

 

Golden splendour: privilege, ceremony and racism in 1920s-1930s Australia

This text investigates the photographs found in an important Australian album discovered in an op shop (charity shop in America) belonging to John “Jack” Riverston Faviell (see part one of the posting), a senior New South Wales public accountant who associated with important pastoralists and bankers of the time, invested in business, travelled across the continent, went to many functions, married Sydney socialite Melanie Audrey Pickburn in February 1925 (divorced October 1930) and built a house on prestigious Darling Point overlooking Sydney Harbour.

The album features Faviell’s photographs and was probably compiled by him, the photographs ranging across the spectrum of Australian life and culture from the East to the West of the continent in the years 1922-1933. A list of locations and topics can be seen below. The album has been assembled in near chronological order although some later dates precede earlier ones (for example, “Frensham Pastoral Play” of 8th December 1923 precedes “La Perouse” 7 November 1923; “Trip to Canberra” 5/6 Nov 1927 precedes “Jenolan Caves Trip” 10/12th July, 1927; and some images from 1927 sit side by side with photographs from October and November 1932). There are no dates for Faviell’s trip to Western Australia (presumably in early 1924) and the dating starts again with a polo competition for “The Dudley Cup” in 1924 after this trip.

Taken in Scotland and sent by a man named Robert Reid from that country there is only one overseas photograph in the album. The photograph, which was presumably taken on Faviell’s honeymoon, is titled “Ellen’s Isle, Loch Katrine, Scotland (Audrey & me in boat) 1925”, and is inserted unceremoniously into photographs dating from 1927. There is no other reference to his marriage or photographs of it or his honeymoon in the album. The handwriting and grid-like layout of the photographs are consistent from front to back, and the photographs are mostly of the same size and shape (meaning he used the same camera throughout the period), other than photographs that Faviell did not take (including the “honeymoon” photograph from Scotland and the photographs of Jenolan Caves taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley).

Thinking of the order that the photographs have been inserted into the album means to my mind that it was consciously assembled by Faviell probably after the date of the last photograph in the album which is November 1933 – although it is possible that he assembled it as he went along, inserting the “honeymoon” photograph from 1925 into the 1927 pages, and some earlier 1927 photographs next to the ones from 1932. But it just doesn’t feel like the latter to me… everything is too ordered to be done as he went along.

One important element of the album are John Faviell’s photographs which document his life in rural New South Wales as he attends various country race meetings, schools, historic houses, pastoral farms, regatta, and business ventures in the state during the 1920s. A second important element is the documentation of “Aboriginal Types” along the Trans-Australian Railway, gold mining in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and pearling and Aboriginals in Shark Bay, the latter two in Western Australia. Finally, important unpublished photographs of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 give insight into the pageantry and colonialism of white Australia.

 

Privilege

A feeling of privilege – defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group – pervades the photographs in the album. Faviell belonged to a particular social category which had an inherently privileged and advantageous position.

This is evidenced by his friendship with wealthy New South Wales graziers such as O.E. Friend (d. 1942) who was President of the Royal Historical Society and Director of the Commercial Banking Co., and who had a keen interest in pastoral pursuits and business investments; by photographs of large houses and pastoral stations such as “Weroona”, Belmont (demolished 1979), “Doona”, Breeza and “Foxlow”, Bungendore near Canberra which consisted of 7,500 hectares of land; by photographs of country horse races, friends who owned race horses and polo matches; by photographs of new cars; by photographs of his own investment projects such as the Doona Cyprus Pine Venture; by photographs of his travel to Western Australia and five-day cruise on the Cutter “Shark”; by photographs of “Old Boys” from Camden Grammar School, a term redolent of the English public school system; by building a house on one of the most exclusive promontories overlooking Sydney Harbour; by getting married in one of the “biggest social events of the month in Sydney”; and so it goes… the (British) class system alive and well in 1920s Australia, still an extension of the Empire.

What we should remember is that, after the end of the First World War the “1920s saw a higher level of material prosperity for non-Indigenous people than ever before.” Despite the rising affluence of the 1920s the Australian unemployment rate floated between 6% and 11% throughout the decade. Then, in October 1929, the world experienced a stock market crash on Wall Street in New York that plunged the world into the Great Depression (1929-1934). By 1932, one third of all Australians were out of work.

“Australia suffered badly during the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s… As in other nations, Australia suffered years of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, plunging incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth and personal advancement. Unemployment reached a record high of around 30% in 1932, and gross domestic product declined by 10% between 1929 and 1931… Many hundreds of thousands of Australians suddenly faced the humiliation of poverty and unemployment. This was still the era of traditional social family structure, where the man was expected to be the sole bread winner. Soup kitchens and charity groups made brave attempts to feed the many starving and destitute. The male suicide rate spiked in 1930 and it became clear that Australia had limits to the resources for dealing with the crisis. The depression’s sudden and widespread unemployment hit the soldiers who had just returned from war the hardest as they were in their mid-thirties and still suffering the trauma of their wartime experiences. At night many slept covered in newspapers at Sydney’s Domain or at Salvation Army refugees.”1

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Due to his wealth, his privileged family life and position in society, Faviell obviously felt none of the effects of the Great Depression. Although there are no photographs in the album taken between 1928 and 1931, by November 1932 he was buying a new Chrysler 70 motorcar. You can’t do that without money.

 

Ceremony

Faviell attended the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the 20th March 1932 sitting in the official stands, taking what are up until now previously unknown photographs of the Federal and State Governors arriving and the pageantry of the official opening (see photographs below). The ceremony featured a passing parade of groups, floats and attractions including Naval Guard, Mounted Police, Cobb & Co. Coach, Old King Street Bus, an early Hupmobile car, the first Auto-Gyro, Wool Float, surf girls, Pioneers Float and Aborigines. Also present in the parade at the Bridge’s opening ceremony was a contingent from the Aboriginal community of La Perouse on Sydney’s Botany Bay. According to the series Australia in Colour, “The first Australians are a token inclusion in the celebrations. They are not classed as citizens in their own country and have no voting or legal rights…”2 State and federal governments still saw Indigenous Australians as, “the native problem.” “For most city people, the only contact with Indigenous groups was watching tent boxing at the travelling shows which used to flourish in the ’30s.”3 But things were beginning to change. Indigenous Australians were slowly being politicised in order to get their message across, with pleas for better rights, conditions and representation.

Five years later, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of European settlement in Australia in 1938 there was a re-enactment of Governor Phillip’s landing in which Aborigines (specially brought in for the occasion) are shown running up the beach as the boats of the First Fleet marines land at Farm Cove (see photograph below). A group of white dignitaries sits in comfortable safety watching the invasion. Elsewhere on that day in 1938 – Wednesday, 26th January – there took place the first Day of Mourning and Protest at the Australian Hall, Sydney. The protest, calling for full citizen status and equality, was led by William Cooper, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Patten and William Ferguson (see photographs and poster below). Cooper and his fellow Aboriginal men Jack Patten and William Ferguson organised a conference to grieve the collective loss of freedom and self-determination of Aboriginal communities as well as those killed during and after European settlement in 1788. “The first Day of Mourning was a culmination of years of work by the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) and the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA). It would became the inspiration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism throughout the remainder of the twentieth century.”4

“In 1938, William Cooper had thrown down a challenge. It was 150 years since the landing of the ragtag British ‘first fleet’ in Sydney Cove on 26 January in 1788. As white Australians were preparing to celebrate, Cooper had branded that landing as the beginning of 150 years of invasion, dispossession and exploitation. Cooper dared white Australia to recognise that their ‘Australia Day’ was no celebration but instead a ‘Day of Mourning’ for invaded Australia. …

A forced reenactment. For the 150th Anniversary, Aboriginal people were forced to participate in a reenactment of the landing of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip. Aboriginal people living in Sydney had refused to take part so organisers brought in men from Menindee, in western NSW, and kept them locked up at the Redfern Police Barracks stables until the re-enactment took place. On the day itself, they were made to run up the beach away from the British – an inaccurate version of events. It was Cook who was first “threatened and warned off by the Indigenous people on the shore” and he then decided to fire gun shots.”5

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Anita Heiss observes of that day in 1938, “The day also saw an appalling contrast. Aboriginal organisations in Sydney refused to participate in the government’s re-enactment of the events of January 1788. In response, the government transported groups of Aboriginal people from western communities in NSW to Sydney to partake in the re-enactments. The visitors were locked up at the Redfern Police Barracks stables and members of the Aborigines Progressive Association were denied access to them. After the re-enactment of the First Fleet landing at Farm Cove (Wuganmagulya), the visiting group of Aboriginal people were featured on a float parading along Macquarie Street.”6

Finally, by 1988, the re-enactments were discontinued. 50 years later to the day, on the occasion of the Australian Bicentenary in 1988 (the same year named a Year of Mourning by and for the Australian Aboriginal people), the protests against British invasion were even more prominent and vigorous, as Aboriginal people and their supporters rallied in Sydney and around the country. “On 26 January that year, up to 40,000 Aboriginal people (including some from as far away as Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory) and their supporters marched from Redfern Park to a public rally at Hyde Park and then on to Sydney Harbour to mark the 200th anniversary of invasion.”7

“On 26 January 1988, more than 40,000 people, including Aborigines from across the country and non-Indigenous supporters, staged what was the largest march in Sydney since the Vietnam moratorium. …

The march was seen as a challenge to the dominant society’s hegemonic construction of Australia day and what it represented. It was a statement of survival, demonstrating that although Australian history had excluded the indigenous voice, Aborigines as the original inhabitants of this place were not going to continue to be beggars in their own country. The march served to draw both national and international attention to Australia’s appalling human rights record. It aimed to educate the public about the poor conditions of Aboriginal health, education and welfare, of the high imprisonment rates and the number of deaths in custody suffered by Indigenous Australians. Activists such as Gary Foley called on Australians to join the Aboriginal protests and to make the point to the rest of Australia that the whole concept of the Bicentennial is based on hypocrisy and lies. …

There had been little emphasis on the need to address indigenous aspirations as a precondition to celebrating the bicentenary. The protest march was both an affirmation of indigenous Australians’ survival and a stark reminder of the falsity on which the celebration was premised. Celebrations focused on the discovery of Australia with a re-enactment of the arrival of the first fleet. However, the Aboriginal protest was a reminder that Australia had been inhabited at least 40,000 years before European arrival.”8

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As the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on January 19, 1988 noted, “scarcely a day of the Bicentenary has passed when issues involving Aborigines and their “Year of Mourning” protests have not featured prominently…” which “instigated public debate concerning white and indigenous Australian history, the position of Aborigines in contemporary society and the possibilities of land rights and reconciliation in the future.”9 But despite these protests many Australians, myself included – newly arrived from England and still homesick for the mother country, failing to grasp the enormity of the betrayal – did not understand the protests. “Despite Indigenous people declaring January 26 a National Day of mourning fifty years prior in 1938, many of the non-Indigenous majority still failed to see any disrespect in celebrating an occasion made possible by the murder, massacre, dispossession, slavery and attempted genocide of the Indigenous people of this land.”10

While I could never understand, as an English man, Australia’s treatment of their First Peoples when I first arrived, at the time I had not educated myself or immersed myself in the history of Australia to gain its full import. Now I have. And so have other people.

Importantly, national events happened in the 1990s that led up to the Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge on 28 May, 2000 (see photograph below) in which about 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to show their support for reconciliation between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples: in 1991 the Australian Parliament passed an Act which created the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation; in the 1992 Mabo decision the High Court of Australia ruled that Australia was not terra nullius (land belonging to nobody) when it was claimed by Britain in 1770. This led to the Native Title Act 1993, which made it possible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to claim ownership of their traditional lands; and the Bringing Them Home report, published in 1997, showed that thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait children had been taken away from their families by governments around Australia. These children have become known as the Stolen Generations. The report said that all Australian governments should apologise to Indigenous people, especially the Stolen Generations.11 So many people participated in the walk that the event took nearly six hours. It was the largest political demonstration ever held in Australia. Finally, eight years after the walk Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a national apology to Australia’s Indigenous people. “On 13 February 2008, the Parliament of Australia issued a formal apology to Indigenous Australians for forced removals of Australian Indigenous children (often referred to as the Stolen Generations) from their families by Australian federal and state government agencies.”12

Better late than never…

 

Racism

By the time John Faviell started taking photographs for his album a twentieth-century, Euro- and U.S.-centric middle class had been dazzled by the “Kodakification” of photography. Small portable cameras with roll film and a faster film speed enabled “amateur” photographers,13 people who “simply wanted pictures as mementos of their daily lives but were hardly interested in learning how to do the rest”14 – that is, developing, printing and toning their own photographs – to document their existence and then send the film away to be developed and printed. George Eastman’s slogan for Kodak, “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest,” revolutionised the photography business in the United States and in the world, allowing the great mass of the general public to take photographs and assemble family albums (for example). In these vernacular photographs – “those countless ordinary and utilitarian pictures made for souvenir postcards, government archives, police case files, pin-up posters, networking Web sites, and the pages of magazines, newspapers, or family albums”15 – the focus is on the social contexts in which the photos were originally made and how they document an aspect of social or photo history. These images, including those by John Faviell, ask us to consider “the ways in which photographs function as significant bearers of complex meaning, rather than mere descriptions or reflections of the world, whether they grace the walls of a museum, the pages of a magazine, the files in a cabinet, or a living room mantel.”16 Commenting on photo postcards but equally applicable to vernacular photographs, Leonard A. Lauder observes that, “The new flexibility and mobility of this medium created citizen photographers who captured life on the ground around them… [and] we learn from them both the grand historical narrative and the smaller events that made up the daily lives of those who participated in that history.”17

Even as the freedom to photograph anywhere, anytime led to the ability of humans with access to a camera and the money to develop and pay for film and prints to document their lives – an intimate portrait of a life in the making, constructed by people for themselves – it also, paradoxically, led to the Kodification, codification, of everyday life… into the haves and the have nots, into people who were portrayed existing at the upper echelons of society, to those that existed as policemen, factory workers, or working on construction sites (for example), or those that existed at the margins of society, the disenfranchised, abused and neglected “other”, subject to the gaze of the photographer and the mechanical observation of the camera.

Even as he welcomes his own ambition and sense of self worth there is a sense of conservatism and privilege in the depiction of his social position in Australian society. In his private photographic album, John Faviell places himself at the centre of the story, at the centre of history, as though he is constructing not only his own place in the history of Australia but the history of Australia itself. His photographs portray his life embedded within the “golden splendour” of the Australian landscape even as the photographs reinforce in private the cultural and photographic norms circulating in public in 1920s-1930s Australia,18 its heteropatriarchy, settler coloniality and the racism prevalent in early 20th century Australia. Through the many titled photographs Faviell projects the inherent racism towards Aboriginal people that was present at that time in white society, the notion of white superiority that was implicit in the White Australia Policy.19 In this regard he would not have seen himself as racist (I have no idea whether he was racist or not) for he was merely reflecting the social attitudes of the day, reflecting a collective racism that pervaded all aspects of white Australian society officially sanctioned through the White Australia Policy, an attitude which continues to haunt Australia’s past, present and future.

While now totally offensive Faviell would have thought nothing of captioning his photographs with titles such as Grave in Nigger’s Cemetery, Shark’s Bay, 1923; A Nor’ West Gin and Big Nig, Shark’s Bay, 1923; and Nellie and her litter, 1923, where after colonisation “gin” became a racist, derogatory term for an Aboriginal woman quickly used against female Aborigines to express a mix of lust and racial contempt, becoming a “dehumanising weapon essential to the violence of occupation,” which led to the systematic rape, abduction and murder of Aboriginal girls and women. He would have thought nothing of titling his photograph Nellie and her litter, the text loaded with casual racism which compares Indigenous Australians to dogs. But what is important to note here is how individuals make use of images in shaping their identities, and how Faviell’s images informed the construction of his own identity and the embodying of his own power.

Photographs tend to be indispensable in the construction of identity because of the phenomenal aspect of photography – its status as a spatio-temporal capture – where memory traces and their capture become a visible reality, and where contexts (point of view) and power can be replayed over and over again, made present in absence.20 Faviell’s album of photographs and the use of the art of memory (Latin: ars memoriae: a number of loosely associated mnemonic principles and techniques used to organise memory impressions) would have allowed him to organise his memory impressions and improve the recall of them. Faviell could have used a set of associative values given for images in memory texts (Nigger, gin) as a starting point to initiate a chain of recollection. “Techniques commonly employed in the art [of memory] include the association of emotionally striking memory images within visualized locations, the chaining or association of groups of images, the association of images with schematic graphics or notae (“signs, markings, figures” in Latin), and the association of text with images.”21

Here we must acknowledge that human beings, including Faviell, are not just actors in history, they are enablers. Enablers of racism whose slippery tentacles still enslave this country Australia down to its very roots – at the footy, on social media, in government, on the land – even today. As the artist Octora observes, “A photograph is not merely evidence of the past or a slice of a passing moment, it is performative and still performs to distort actual reality today.”22 But changing how photographs perform realities and memories is not easy, for there are other forces at play to which photographs only reinforce social prejudices: “There is a racism that lurks within the Australian consciousness and is fuelled by an uneasy conscience caused by our treatment of Aborigines in the past and out fear from the future.”23

What we must do is confront this fear and propose a narrative that moves beyond those reflected in our existing histories… for memory is not just a personal remembering (the product and property of individual minds) but a collective remembering, “concerned with remembering and forgetting as socially constituted activities… Individual memories cannot be understood as ‘internal mental processes’ which occur independently of the interpretive and communicative practices which characterise a particular society or culture. Individuals ‘read’, account for and negotiate their memories within the pragmatics of social life.”24 As would John Faviell have done.

We must remember that historical memories help form the social and political identities of groups of people and that in Australia there is a collective amnesia surrounding the White Australia policy, a social amnesia where there is a collective forgetting by a group, or nation, of people about the effects of a certain policy – because they are ignorant of it, because they don’t care, because they agree with the policy, or because they benefit from the policy – and they forget about it. Things remain the same, the status quo is maintained, and mythologies of a white nation remain impervious to change. There is also a collective remembering that this is the policy of the government, that it keeps the country homogenous, and wards of the invasion of non-desirables. People of colour and “others”.

So how can looking at historic photographs, such as those in John Faviell’s photographic album, affect change? According to Mika Elo,

“Photographs are nomadic and relational images. They are scalable and can be inscribed in many kinds of material supports, which means that they carry in themselves references to something beyond their own instantiations. Something similar applies to power. Power can be restrictive or productive, personalized or impersonal, but it is always relational. With regard to visual representation, power is neither entirely inherent to specific images nor entirely reducible to the context. Rather, we might consider it a parergonal [a subordinate activity or work: work undertaken in addition to one’s main employment] phenomenon. As we all know, power relations can effectively be built up and worked against with photographic images. This means that in each individual case the borders between information, propaganda and advertising are necessarily indistinct – even if the face offered by the photograph as an image is distinct. The distinctness of an image is always dissimilarity [its groundlessness of meaning in a ‘network’ of significations]. The way in which a photograph cuts itself off from everything else introduces a mute interval that fosters many kinds of speech, whether banal, creative, humiliating or empowering. In any case, the photographic cut necessarily introduces basic conditions for power relations: it introduces a point of view into relational structures. Its effects can be both imaginary and symbolic. Depending on the point of view, the cut can be transformative or conservative, emancipatory or suppressive, subversive or destructive.”25

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In this sense images, rather than being a representation of a palpable materiality at a particular point in time and with a particular interpretation, never cease to present their multiple aspects open to reinterpretation. Collectively and individually photographs can seize us, can hold us in their thrall. But we are not passive observers that approach the present which is absent, a particular floating “reality” that is embedded in a photograph, but an active participant in the encounter with performance and gesture… in the eyes of the observer. As Žarko Paić notes of the observer, “His role has changed significantly. It is no longer a Kantian passive subject to the reflection of a beautiful, nor a Nietzschean active producer who disturbs indifferent senses. The observer does not look at what’s happening in a picture like an idle screen. Violence caused by the rise of the chaotic reality of the twentieth century, wars and revolutions, by the technical acceleration of the cinematic energy of one’s life, becomes the “energy” and “intensity” of the image. The image is always an image of something. It is therefore mimetic in its aspiration to turn life into the objectivity of reality. However, the representation of something does not mean that it is only an empty intentional act of observing objects.”26 As Mika Elo states, “… power is necessarily inscribed in technologies, practices and discourses of photography in many ways. Photographic powers have their past, presence and future. They have their visible and invisible forms.”27

And so this is what we can collectively and individually undertake. We can look at John Faviell’s private photographs and confront the racist societal violence28 against Aboriginal people depicted through image and text, and we can disrupt their historicity, in public, in the here and now. We can acknowledge past determinations of these photographs and delimit that determination and identification in a network of significations… so that we celebrate the life of the disenfranchised because they are not to be seen as such. These are human beings living their life and are as equally as valuable as anybody else, and we can acknowledge this because we approach the photograph to embrace the … the “energy” and “intensity” of the image. And the “presence” and spirit of the people not as subject but as the thing itself.29

The observer actively engages with the photograph to bring these human beings to life in their imagination,30 to inhabit a reality that can in the present be changed. Every look performs this operation because only through this recon/figuration, this transformation, this metamorphosis, can we assess the past with fresh eyes and not be complicit in the racism and socially constituted activities of the past which still affect us today. Only by bringing the visible and invisible forms of racism into the open in the present can we open up new possibilities for the future.

As the photographer Frederick Sommer sagely opines,

The world is a reality,
not because of the way it is,
but because
of the possibilities it presents.

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan
January 2023

Word count: 4,671

See Part 1 of the posting

 

 

Footnotes

1/ “Great Depression in Australia,” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 30/08/2021

2/ Lisa Matthews (director). “Shifting Allegiances,” from Australia in Colour Season One, Episode Two. TV Mini Series. Strange Than Fiction Films, 2019

3/ Ibid.,

4/ Anonymous. “The 1938 Day of Mourning,” on the AIATSIS website Nd [Online] Cited 21/02/2022

5/ Isabella Higgins and Sarah Collard. “Captain James Cook’s landing and the Indigenous first words contested by Aboriginal leaders,” on the ABC News website Wed 29 Apr 2020 quoted in Jens Korff. “Australia Day – Invasion Day,” on the Creative Spirits website 26 July 2021 [Online] Cited 03/05/2022

6/ Anita Heiss. “Significant Aboriginal Events in Sydney,” on the Barani website Nd [Online] Cited 22/07/2021.

7/ Ibid.,

8/ Pose, Melanie. “Indigenous Protest, Australian Bicentenary, 1988,” on the Museums Victoria Collections website 2009 [Online] Cited 03/05/2022 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

9/ Ibid.,

10/ Natalie Cromb. “Analysis: The ’88 protests,” on the SBS NTIV website 29 January, 2018 [Online] Cited 03/05/2022. No longer available online

11/ Anonymous. “Walk for reconciliation,” on the National Museum of Australia website 12 May 2021 [Online] Cited 03/05/2022

12/ “Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples,” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 03/05/2022

13/ “Vernacular photography is also to be distinguished from amateur photography. While vernacular photography is generally situated outside received art categories (though where the lines are drawn may vary), “amateur photography” contrasts with “professional photography”: “[A]mateur [photography] simply means that you make your living doing something else”.”
Langford, Michael and Bilissi, Efthimia. Langford’s Advanced Photography. Oxford, UK and Burlington, MA: Focal Press. 2011, p. 1 quoted in Anonymous. “Vernacular photography,” on the Wikipedia website Nd [Online] Cited 06/05/2022

14/ Anonymous. “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest,” on the Wikipedia website Nd [Online] Cited 06/05/2022

15/ Anonymous. “In the Vernacular,” on the Art Institute of Chicago website, 2010 [Online] Cited 06/05/2022

16/ Ibid.,

17/ Leonard A. Lauder quoted in the press release for Real Photo Postcards: Pictures from a Changing Nation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 17th March – 25th July, 2022 Nd [Online] Cited 06/05/2022

18/ Kris Belden-Adams. “CFP – ‘These Are Our Stories’: Global Expressions of “Other” Histories, Narratives, and Identities in Photographic Albums,” on the Humanities and Social Science Online website January 23, 2020 [Online] Cited 03/05/2022

19/ See Anonymous. “White Australia Policy,” on the Wikipedia website Nd [Online] Cited 25/12/2022; Anonymous. “White Australia Policy,” on the National Museum of Australia website Nd [Online] Cited 25/12/2022; and Anonymous. “The Immigration Restriction Act 1901,” on the National Archives of Australia website Nd [Online] Cited 25/12/2022

20/ Mika Elo. “Introduction: Photography Research Exposed to the Parergonal Phenomenon of “Photographic Powers”,” in Elo, Mika and Karo, Marko (eds.,). Photographic Powers – Helsinki Photomedia 2014. Aalto University publication series, 2015, pp. 7-8.

21/ Anonymous. “Art of Memory,” on the Wikipedia website Nd [Online] Cited 25/12/2022

22/ The artist Octora quoted in James McArdle. “16 July: Writing,” on the On This Date In Photography website 16/07/2021 [Online] Cited 22/07/2021.

23/ The Right Reverend George Hearn quoted in “Birthday hype ‘blurs’ history,” in The Canberra Times Sun 1 May 1988 on the Trove website [Online] Cited 22/07/2021.

24/ David Middleton and Derek Edwards (eds.,). Collective Remembering. Sage Publications, 1990

25/ Mika Elo, Op cit., pp. 7-8

26/ Žarko Paić. “The Dark Core Of Mimesis: Art, Body And Image In The Thought Of Jean-Luc Nancy,” on the TVRDA website August 20, 2022 [Online] Cited 25/12/2022

27/ Mika Elo, Op cit., pp. 7-8

28/ “Racist violence is exemplary. It is the violence that knocks someone in the face, simply because – as the stupid twat might say – it “doesn’t like the look” on his face. The face is denied truth. The truth meanwhile lies in a figure that deduces itself to the blow that it strikes. Here, truth is true because it is violent, and it is true in its violence: it is a destructive truth in the sense in which destruction verifies and makes true.”
Jean-Luc Nancy. The Ground of the Image. Translated by Jeff Fort. Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 17.

29/ Ibid., p. 21.

30/ “The image not only exceeds the form, the aspect, the calm surface of representation, but in order to do so item just draw upon a ground – or a groundlessness – of excessive power. The image must be imagined; that is to say, it must extract from its absence the unity of force that the thing merely at hand does not present. Imagination is not the faculty of representing something in its absence; it is the force that draws the form of presentation out of absence: that is to say, the force of “self-presenting.””
Jean-Luc Nancy. The Ground of the Image. Translated by Jeff Fort. Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 21.

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Many thankx to the State Library of New South Wales for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Grateful thankx to Douglas Stewart Fine Books for their research help with this photo album. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Shark’s Bay,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Locations

  • Blue Mountains, NSW (1922)
  • Leura Falls, NSW (1922)
  • Weeping Rock, Wentworth Falls, NSW (1922)
  • Tarana Picnic Races, NSW (1922)
  • Doona, Breeza, NSW (1922)
  • Avoca, NSW (1922)
  • Newcastle Races, NSW (1923)
  • Belmont / Belmont Regatta, NSW (1923)
  • Hawkesbury, NSW (1923)
  • Frenches Forest, NSW (1923)
  • “Foxlow” Station, Bungedore, NSW (1923)
  • Sydney, NSW (Customs House, National Art Gallery, Mitchell Library, Darlinghurst Courthouse) (1923)
  • Muswellbrook Picnic Races, NSW (1923)
  • Maitland / Maitland Cup Meeting, NSW (1923)
  • Breeza, NSW (1923)
  • Wiseman’s Ferry, NSW (1923)
  • Moss Vale / Sutton Forest Church, NSW (1923)
  • Frensham, NSW (1923)
  • La Perouse, NSW (Historical Society Excursion) (1923)
  • Old Customs Watch Tower, La Perouse (1923)
  • The Old Illawarra Road, NSW (1923)
  • Yarcowie, SA (1923)
  • Trans-Australian Railway (Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie) (1923)
  • Karonie, WA (1923)
  • Kalgoorlie, WA (1923)
  • Boulder City, WA (1923)
  • Fremantle, WA (1923)
  • Geraldton, WA (1923)
  • Shark’s Bay, WA (1923)
  • Henry Freycinet Estuary, WA (1923)
  • Tamala Station, WA (1923)
  • Perth, WA (1923)
  • Adelaide, SA (Torrens River) (1923)
  • “Redbank,” Scone, NSW (1924)
  • Muswellbrook Picnic Races, NSW (1924)
  • “Craigieburn,” Bowral, NSW (1924)
  • The Dudley Cup at Kensington, NSW (1924)
  • Camden Grammar School, NSW (1924)
  • Liverpool Church, NSW (1924)
  • Landsdowne Bridge, NSW (1924)
  • Jenolan Caves, NSW (1924)
  • Avon Dam, NSW (1924)
  • Herald Office, Pitt Street, NSW (1924)
  • Camping, Cronulla, NSW (1925)
  • Roseville, NSW (1926)
  • Whale Beach, NSW (1927)
  • Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, Macquarie Street, NSW (1927)
  • 20, Yarranabbe Rd., Darling Point, NSW (1926)
  • Canberra, ACT (1927)
  • Jenolan Caves, NSW (Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley) (1927)
  • Ellen’s Isle, Loch Katrine, Scotland (1925)
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge, NSW (1931-32)
  • “Springfield,” Byng, Near Orange, NSW (1932)
  • Lucknow, near Orange, NSW (1933)
  • Hawkesbury, NSW (1933)
  • Bathurst, NSW (1933)
  • “Millambri, ” Canowindra, NSW (1933)
  • Melbourne, VIC (1933)

 

Topics

  • Men
  • Pastoralism and grazing
  • Horses / country horse racing
  • Sheep and shearing
  • Cows
  • Mill / logging
  • Pine plantation
  • Bush
  • Bores and dams
  • Cathedral / churches
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Cars (Ford, Pan-American, Essex, Oldsmobile, early Hupmobile, Chrysler 70)
  • Buses
  • Bank, post office
  • Pastoral Play
  • Monuments
  • Rock carvings
  • Houses
  • Cemetery / tombstones
  • John Dunn, executed 1866
  • South Australian Railways / locomotives
  • S.A. constable and Adelaide cop
  • Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal types, along the Trans-Australian Railway)
  • Australian Desert Blacks
  • Gold mine / gold panning
  • Mining (Boulder and Perseverance Mines)
  • Convict gaol
  • Oldest inhabitant (Henry Desmond)
  • Hotels
  • Beach and sea, surf girls
  • Mother of pearl
  • Dates
  • Afghan / camels
  • Yachting, sailing / boats
  • Guano
  • Fred Adams, Boss-Pearler
  • Stations and station hands
  • Rowing
  • Dredging
  • Polo
  • Rugby
  • Caves
  • Guns
  • Nobility and royalty
  • Camping, picnics
  • Tennis
  • House building / old houses
  • Parliament House
  • Prime Ministers residence
  • Bridges and bridge building
  • Federal and state governors
  • The world’s first auto-gyro plane (1909-1912)
  • The Southern Cross
  • Pioneers
  • Mounted police
  • First house in Byng
  • Rabbiting
  • Glamour
  • Social status / socialite
  • Family
  • Women and children
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge opening
  • Carillon (bells)
  • Myers and Bourke Street, Melbourne

 

 

"An Afghan's turnout," 1923 John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“An Afghan’s turnout,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Shark's Bay, Lloyd's Camels (Bred on Dirk Hartog Island)," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Shark’s Bay, Lloyd’s Camels (Bred on Dirk Hartog Island),” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"A five-days cruise on the Cutter "Shark"," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“A five-days cruise on the Cutter “Shark”,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Amongst the Islands of Henri Freycinet Estuary," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Amongst the Islands of Henri Freycinet Estuary,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Henri Freycinet Harbour, also known as Freycinet Estuary, is one of the inner gulfs of Shark Bay, Western Australia, a World Heritage Site that lies to the west of the Peron Peninsula. It has a significantly larger number of islands than Hamelin Pool, and has a number of smaller peninsulas known as “prongs” on its northern area. It has also been identified as a critical dugong habitat area. It is situated within the Shark Bay Marine Park.

 

"Fred Adams, Boss-Pearler, Shark's Bay, W.A.," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Fred Adams, Boss-Pearler, Shark’s Bay, W.A.,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Pearling in Western Australia was an important part of the European colonisation of the North West. Although it was never considered a permanent part of the state economy, pearling, with its immediate returns, allowed pastoralists to establish stations and contributed to the foundation of several towns. Some of these towns evolved into centres for agriculture and tourism and some developed their port facilities. Others did not outlive the availability of and market for pearlshell. Uniquely, Shark Bay not only survived the demise of the industry, but developed into the state’s commercial fishing centre. The pearling boats were simply refitted to become fishing boats (OH 2266/8) and the Bay life continued…

Wilyah Miah. An Archaeological Study of the History of the Shark Bay Pearling Industry 1850-1930. University of Western Australia, 1999, p. 7.

 

""Natty" Black & Adams," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“”Natty” Black & Adams,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Sharks Bay," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sharks Bay,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"J.F." 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“J.F.” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Boss-pearler Henfrey, and his "missus", opening shell," 1923in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Boss-pearler Henfrey, and his “missus”, opening shell,” 1923in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

The first labour employed in the industry was that of the local Aboriginal people. Little is known of the pre-European Aboriginal people of the Bay. It is not clear whether it was the territory of the Nanda or the Mulgana people (Bowdler 1992:5) although current consensus among the people of Shark Bay is that they are Mulgana (Bowdler pers. comm. 1999). They were easily accessible and there were no expectations that they should be paid the wages of other labourers. Willingness on the part of the Aboriginal people to participate in the industry was often an issue irrelevant to the interests of the pearlers. Goods such as alcohol may have been an inducement, but, according to Anderson (1978) in her study of the North West industry, coercion was necessary and practices such as blackbirding were employed to acquire labour. The introduction of pastoralism, by its appropriation of land, ensured the destruction of the traditional Aboriginal economy and forced them to provide for the market the only commodity available to them, their labour (Hartwig 1975:32).

Wilyah Miah. An Archaeological Study of the History of the Shark Bay Pearling Industry 1850-1930. University of Western Australia, 1999, p. 18.

 

"Tamala Station, Shark's Bay, W.A.," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Tamala Station, Shark’s Bay, W.A.,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

This pastoral station is in the southern part of Shark Bay World Heritage Area on limestone-dominated landscapes. The main attraction of Tamala Station is the low lying coastline and waters of Henri Freycinet Harbour. Many visitors only cross this property on their way to Steep Point but some spend time here camping, fishing and exploring the prongs and peninsulas. Tamala Station allows access to the general public but you must first contact the station managers for bookings.

Text from the Shark Bay World Heritage website

 

"Tamala Station Hands," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Tamala Station Hands,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Well Ziffed Stockman," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Well Ziffed Stockman,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Ziff, Australian for beard. The Oxford English Dictionary says this slang term originated around 1919, but otherwise the origin is unknown. To be ziffed means to be bearded.

 

"Untitled," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Nellie and her litter," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Nellie and her litter,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Western Australia," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Western Australia,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Perth," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Perth,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Returning from the West," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Returning from the West,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Redbank", Scone, N.S.W.," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Redbank”, Scone, N.S.W.,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

W.T. Badgery, horsebreeder, at Scone, Hunter Valley (Information from Douglas Stewart Fine Books)

Scone /ˈskoʊn/ is a town in the Upper Hunter Shire in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is on the New England Highway north of Muswellbrook about 270 kilometres north of Sydney, and is part of the New England (federal) and New England (state) electorates. Scone is in a farming area and is also noted for breeding Thoroughbred racehorses. It is known as the ‘Horse capital of Australia’.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

"Muswellbrook Picnic Races," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Muswellbrook Picnic Races,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Polo, Scone v Muswellbrook," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Polo, Scone v Muswellbrook,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Craigieburn", Bowral, N.S.W.," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Craigieburn”, Bowral, N.S.W.,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Craigieburn, Bowral is a house of historical significance as it was built in about 1885. It was originally the mountain retreat for a wealthy Sydney merchant and was owned by him for over twenty years. It was then the home of several other prominent people until about 1918 when it was converted into a hotel. Today it still provides hotel accommodation and is a venue for special events particularly weddings and conferences.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

"Bryden Brown and Jack Whitehouse," 1923 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Bryden Brown and Jack Whitehouse,” 1923 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"The Dudley Cup at Kensington," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“The Dudley Cup at Kensington,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"C.G.S Football, School v Old Boys," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“C.G.S Football, School v Old Boys,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Camden Grammar School

“At the close of the last century the school was moved to the present situation at Studley Park, Narellan, formerly the residence of A. Payne Esq., a magnificent residence standing on the brow of a hill over looking the Nepean Valley and surrounded by 200 acres of rich country.” (Trove) The school was at Studley Park House 1902-1933.

 

"Half-time," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Half-time,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Trip to Jenolan Caves," October, 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Trip to Jenolan Caves,” October, 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Audrey Pickburn

Audrey Pickburn was a Sydney socialite. Her mother who was obviously playing chaperone on this trip to Jenolan Caves (Information from Douglas Stewart Fine Books) (Information from Douglas Stewart Fine Books)

Audrey Pickburn and John Faviell were married on Tuesday 24 February 1925.

 

AT ST. JAMES’

LAST NIGHT’S WEDDING

FAVIELL – PICKBURN

ST. JAMES Church, Kings Street was crowded last night for the wedding or Miss Audrey Pickburn, only child of the late Judge Pickburn, and Mrs. Pickburn of Springfield, Darllnghurst and Mr John Favlell, of “Collinroobie”. The church was decorated by girl friends of the bride and the ceremony was performed by Rev. T. L—-.

A lovely bridal gown of gleaming white was hand embroidered with pearls and diamente, and made with a long train, which was encrusted with pearls and lined with shell pink georgette. Silver thread embroideries also appeared on the train, which was finished with true-lovers knots. A plain tulle veil, held with a coronet of orange blossom, and a bouquet of orchids completed the ensemble.

Miss Gretel Bullmore was chief bridesmaid wearing a gown of golden lame, flared at the hem. Miss Eileen Wiley and Miss Joyce Russell were also In attendance. Their frocks of lame were made —– effect. All three wore golden crin. hats, trimmed with —- and floating blue scarves, with gold thread embroideries, and they carried bouquets of orchids.

Mr. Claude Pain was in attendance as best man. Mr. Guy Little and Mr Keith Hardie acted as groomsmen. The reception was held at the Queen’s Club where the bride & mother received a big number of guests.

The Labor Daily, Tuesday, 24 February 1925, Page 7 on the Trove website [Online] Cited 05/11/2019

(The Queen’s Club, 137 Elizabeth Street, Sydney established in 1912, is a private Club. The Club was founded for social purposes for country and city women.)

 

PICKBURN – FAVIELL

The biggest social event of the month was the wedding on Tuesday night of Miss Mclanie Audrey Pickburn, only daughter of the late Judge Pickburn and Mrs. Pickburn, of ‘Springfield,’ Darlinghurst, to Mr. Jack “Riverstone” Faviell, of Sydney, son of the late Mr. A. Faviell, Colinroobie, Narandera, and Mrs. Faviell, Kiribilli, which was celebrated at St. James’s Church, King-street, Sydney, by the Rev. E. C. Lucas, of St. John’s, Darlinghurst. The church was beautifully decorated in white and gold.

Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser, Friday, 27 February 1925, Page 6 on the Trove website [Online] Cited 05/11/2019

 

Jenolan Caves

The Jenolan Caves (Tharawal: Binoomea, Bindo, Binda) are limestone caves located within the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve in the Central Tablelands region, west of the Blue Mountains, in Jenolan, Oberon Council, New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The caves and 3,083-hectare (7,620-acre) reserve are situated approximately 175 kilometres (109 mi) west of Sydney, 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Oberon and 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Katoomba.

The caves are the most visited of several similar groups in the limestone caves of the country, and the most ancient discovered open caves in the world.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

"Caves Service Car," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Caves Service Car,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"My Pan American," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“My Pan American,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Audrey Pickburn," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Audrey Pickburn,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Jenolan Caves," October, 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Jenolan Caves,” October, 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Audrey," 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Audrey,” 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Admiral Sir Dudley Rawson Stratford de Chair, KCB, KCMG, MVO (30 August 1864 – 17 August 1958) was a senior Royal Navy officer and later Governor of New South Wales. …

 

Governor of New South Wales

De Chair had been interested in serving in a viceregal role as early as 1922, when he put his name forward to the Colonial Office for the position of Governor of South Australia. This position however, went to Sir Tom Bridges instead and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Leo Amery, put de Chair’s name forward for the Governor of New South Wales. This position, which had been vacant since the death of Sir Walter Davidson in September 1923, was the same one his uncle, Sir Harry Rawson, had held twenty years earlier, and to which he was appointed on 8 November 1923.

Arriving in Sydney on 28 February 1924, de Chair became governor in relatively calm political times and was warmly received in the city with great fanfare. On de Chair’s appointment, the President of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Aubrey Halloran, compared Admiral de Chair to the first Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip: “Our new Governor’s reputation as an intrepid sailor and ruler of men evokes from us a hearty welcome and inspires us to place in him the same confidence that [Arthur] Phillip received from his gallant band of fellow-sailors and the English statesmen who sent him.”

The political makeup of the state changed not long after his arrival however, when the conservative Nationalist/Progressive coalition government of Sir George Fuller, whom de Chair had got on well with, was defeated at the May 1925 state election by the Labor Party under Jack Lang. De Chair noted to himself that Lang and his party’s position comprised “radical and far-reaching legislation, which had not been foreshadowed in their election speeches”. He also later wrote that Lang’s “lack of scruple gave me a great and unpleasant surprise”.

With the Labor Government only holding a single seat majority in the Legislative Assembly and only a handful of members in the upper Legislative Council, one of Lang’s main targets was electoral reform. The Legislative Council, comprising members appointed by the Governor for life terms, had long been seen by Lang and the Labor Party as an outdated bastion of conservative privilege holding back their reform agenda. Although previous Labor premiers had managed to work with the status quo, such as requesting appointments from the Governor sufficient to pass certain bills, Lang’s more radical political agenda required more drastic action to ensure its passage. Consequently, Lang and his government sought to abolish the council, along the same lines that their Queensland Labor colleagues had done in 1922 to their Legislative Council, by requesting from de Chair enough appointments to establish a Labor majority in the council that would then vote for abolition.

While Lang’s attempts ultimately failed, de Chair failed to gain the support of an indifferent Dominions Office. With Lang’s departure in 1927, the Nationalist Government of Thomas Bavin invited him in 1929 to stay on as Governor for a further term. De Chair agreed only to a year’s extension and retired on 8 April 1930.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

"Old Herald Office - Pitt St.,' 1924 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Old Herald Office – Pitt St.,’ 1924 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Aboard the Orvieto," September, 1925 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Aboard the Orvieto,” September, 1925 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Curtis (Captain Arthur Curtis)," 1925 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Curtis (Captain Arthur Curtis),” 1925 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Roseville," 1926 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Roseville,” 1926 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Picnics - Whale Beach / Visit of the Duke & Duchess of York," 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Picnics – Whale Beach / Visit of the Duke & Duchess of York,” 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Visit of the Duke & Duchess of York," 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Visit of the Duke & Duchess of York,” 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"A house is nearly built - 20 Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point," 1926 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“A house is nearly built – 20 Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point,” 1926 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

"Buying the land," 1926 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Buying the land,” 1926 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Three harbour views taken from upstairs," 1926 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Three harbour views taken from upstairs,” 1926 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Harbour view," 1926 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Harbour view,” 1926 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Audrey Pickburn and Jack Faviell divorced in October 1930. Audrey re-married in 1934 and so did Jack (Information from Douglas Stewart Fine Books)

 

IN DIVORCE

(Before Mr. Justice Pike)

FAVIELL v FAVIELL

Jack Riverstone Faviell sued for divorce from Melanie Audrey Faviell (formerly Pickburn) on the ground of non compliance with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights. The parties were married at Sydney in February, 1925, according to the rites of the Church of England. A decree nisi, returnable in six months, was granted. Mr. Toose (instructed by Messrs. Allen, Allen, and Hemsley) appeared for the petitioner.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday, 11 October 1930. Page 8 on the Trove website [Online] Cited 05/11/2019

 

The party below is for Jack with his second wife whom he married in 1934; Miss Rosenthal from Melbourne (Information from Douglas Stewart Fine Books)

 

“Party at Darling Point”

MRS. JOHN FAVIELL, looking very cool in a pink and grey floral sheer frock and shady natural straw hat, was hurrying about town in yesterday’s heat to complete arrangements for the Christmas party and dance at her home, 20 Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point, on Friday.

The party will be held from Ave till ten p.m., and the proceeds will be in aid of the Blind Institution. A Christmas tree will be among the attractions.

The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday, 15 December 1937. Page 12 on the Trove website [Online] Cited 05/11/2019

 

"Trip to Canberra," 5/6 November, 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Trip to Canberra,” 5/6 November, 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Prime Minister's Residence," 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Prime Minister’s Residence,” 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Trip to Canberra," 5/6 November, 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Trip to Canberra,” 5/6 November, 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

The prophetic tombstone of Sarah, George and Betsy Webb. The inscription is prophetic “For here we have no continuing city but seek one to come” St John’s Churchyard, Constitution Avenue, Reid.

 

"Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,' 10/12th July, 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,’ 10/12th July, 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Dorothy Edith Isabel Hope-Morley (Hobart-Hampden)
Birthdate: April 11, 1891
Death: December 15, 1972
Daughter of Sidney, 7th Earl of Buckinghamshire, OBE and Georgiana Wilhelmina, Countess of Buckinghamshire
Wife of Hon. Claude Hope-Morley
Mother of Gordon Hope Hope-Morley, 3rd Baron Hollenden and Hon Ann Rosemary Hope Newman
Sister of John Hobart-Hampden-Mercer-Henderson, 8th Earl of Buckinghamshire and Lady Sidney Mary Catherine Anne Hobart-Hampden

 

"Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,' 10/12th July, 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,’ 10/12th July, 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,' 10/12th July, 1927 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Taken by Lady Dorothy Hope-Morley, Jenolan Caves Trip,’ 10/12th July, 1927 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Ellen's Isle, Loch Katrine, Scotland (Audrey & me in boat)," 1925 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Ellen’s Isle, Loch Katrine, Scotland (Audrey & me in boat),” 1925 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

This photograph, the only one from overseas (Scotland), must be from Audrey and Jack’s honeymoon (1925). It is interesting that there are no other photographs from either the wedding or the honeymoon in the album. Of course, the marriage photographs could have been housed in a purpose built wedding album, but the haphazard nature of the construction of this album, with the photographs out of date order, and this the only one from the honeymoon, make me think that this album was assembled in the 1930s. Marcus

 

"Untitled," c. 1927-30 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” c. 1927-30 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled," c. 1927-30 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” c. 1927-30 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew," 1929-1930 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew,” 1929-1930 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge construction

Arch construction itself began on 26 October 1928. The southern end of the bridge was worked on ahead of the northern end, to detect any errors and to help with alignment. The cranes would “creep” along the arches as they were constructed, eventually meeting up in the middle. In less than two years, on Tuesday, 19 August 1930, the two halves of the arch touched for the first time. Workers riveted both top and bottom sections of the arch together, and the arch became self-supporting, allowing the support cables to be removed. On 20 August 1930 the joining of the arches was celebrated by flying the flags of Australia and the United Kingdom from the jibs of the creeper cranes.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 31/10/2019

 

"Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew," 1929-1930 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew,” 1929-1930 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew," 1929-1930 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew,” 1929-1930 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew," 1929-1930 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew,” 1929-1930 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew," 1929-1930 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Sydney Harbour Bridge As It Grew,” 1929-1930 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Bridge Opening, 20th March, 1932," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Bridge Opening, 20th March, 1932,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Showing anchor cables," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Showing anchor cables,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Federal and State Govenors arriving,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge - 20th March, 1932," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge – 20th March, 1932,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge - 20th March, 1932," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge – 20th March, 1932,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Mounted Police," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Mounted Police,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Aborigines," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Aborigines,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Old King Street Bus," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Old King Street Bus,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"An early Hupmobile car," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“An early Hupmobile car,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

Hupmobile was an automobile built from 1909 through 1939 by the Hupp Motor Car Company.

 

"First Auto-Gyro (The World's First Auto-Gyro Plane, 1909-12)," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“First Auto-Gyro (The World’s First Auto-Gyro Plane, 1909-12),” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge - 20th March, 1932," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Pageantry at Official Opening of Harbour Bridge – 20th March, 1932,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Surf girls drawing Float,” from the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Surf girls drawing Float,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"The Southern Cross," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“The Southern Cross,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Pioneers Float," March, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Pioneers Float,” March, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

Australian National Travel Association Smith and Julius Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.) (printer) 'Australia's 150th Anniversary Sydney 1938: Pageantry and carnival January 26th - April 25th' Sydney: The Association, 1938

 

Australian National Travel Association
Smith and Julius Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.) (printer)
Australia’s 150th Anniversary Sydney 1938: Pageantry and carnival January 26th – April 25th
Sydney: The Association, 1938
Poster
101.2 x 62.4cm
© National Library of Australia

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

 

‘The 26th of January, 1938, is not a day of rejoicing for Australia’s Aborigines; it is a day of mourning. This festival of 150 years’ so-called “progress” in Australia commemorates also 150 years of misery and degradation imposed upon the original native inhabitants by the white invaders of this country.

‘We, representing the Aborigines, now ask you, the reader of this appeal, to pause in the midst of your sesqui-centenary rejoicings and ask yourself honestly whether your “conscience” is clear in regard to the treatment of the Australian blacks by the Australian whites during the period of 150 years’ history which you celebrate?’

‘You are the New Australians, but we are the Old Australians. We have in our arteries the blood of the Original Australians, who have lived in this land for many thousands of years.’

‘You came here only recently, and you took our land away from us by force. You have almost exterminated our people, but there are enough of us remaining to expose the humbug of your claim, as white Australians, to be a civilised, progressive, kindly and humane nation.’

‘Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights!: A Statement of the Case for the Aborigines Progressive Association’, the Publicist, 1938, p. 3 quoted in Anonymous. “The 1938 Day of Mourning,” on the AIATSIS website Nd [Online] Cited 21/02/2022

 

Charles Meere (Australian, 1890-1961) '1788-1938, 150 years of progress: Australia celebrates January 26 - April 25, 1938' 1938

 

Charles Meere (Australian, 1890-1961)
1788-1938, 150 years of progress: Australia celebrates January 26 – April 25, 1938
1938
Poster
101.5 x 63.5cm
© National Library of Australia

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

'Poster advertising the Day of Mourning' 1938

 

Poster advertising the Day of Mourning
1938
AIATSIS Collection

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

 

In 1938, a poster invited “Aborigines and persons of Aboriginal blood” to attend the Day of Mourning and Protest at the Australian Hall, Sydney. It was to be held on 26 January, the 150th anniversary of European colonisation. The protest, calling for full citizen status and equality, was led by William Cooper, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Patten and William Ferguson.

Keith Munro, MCA Curator Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs, says, “The Day of Mourning event is seen as the first Aboriginal civil rights protest in Australian history. The actions that took place on this day later resulted in the establishment of a national day of celebration and achievement, which turned into a longer event now known as NAIDOC Week.”

Anonymous. “Marking 80 years since the Day of Mourning,” on the Museum of Contemporary Art website 17 May 2018 [Online] Cited 21/02/2022

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'The first Day of Mourning' 1938

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
The first Day of Mourning. From the left is William Ferguson, Jack Kinchela, Isaac Ingram, Doris Williams, Esther Ingram, Arthur Williams, Phillip Ingram, Louisa Agnes Ingram OAM holding daughter Olive Ingram, and Jack Patten. The name of the person in the background to the right is not known at this stage.
AIATSIS Collection

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

 

The first Day of Mourning was a culmination of years of work by the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) and the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA). It would became the inspiration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism throughout the remainder of the twentieth century. In the early 1960s, both organisations would reform and reshape and become the driving force calling for a constitutional referendum that would take place in 1967.

The AAL was able to persuade many religious denominations to declare the Sunday before Australia Day as ‘Aboriginal Sunday’. This was to serve as a reminder of the unjust treatment of Indigenous people. The first of these took place in 1940 and continued until 1955, when it moved to the first Sunday in July.

In 1957, with support and cooperation from federal and state governments, the churches and major Indigenous organisations, a National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed, which continues to this day as NAIDOC.

Anonymous. “The 1938 Day of Mourning,” on the AIATSIS website Nd [Online] Cited 21/02/2022

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Jack Patten reads the resolution at the Day of Mourning Conference on 26 January 1938'

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Jack Patten reads the resolution at the Day of Mourning Conference on 26 January 1938
Mar. 1938 (publication date), Sydney, N.S.W.: Man magazine
12 x 17cm
© Collections of the State Library of New South Wales

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'In this 1938 re-enactment of Governor Phillip's landing, Aborigines (specially brought in for the occasion) are shown running up the beach as the boats of the First Fleet marines land at Farm Cove. A group of white dignitaries sits in comfortable safety watching the invasion' 1938

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
In this 1938 re-enactment of Governor Phillip’s landing, Aborigines (specially brought in for the occasion) are shown running up the beach as the boats of the First Fleet marines land at Farm Cove. A group of white dignitaries sits in comfortable safety watching the invasion
1938
© Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW – Home and Away

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Aboriginal protests on Sydney Harbour, Australia Day, 1988' 1988

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Aboriginal protests on Sydney Harbour, Australia Day, 1988
1988

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) Pat Fiske (director) 'Australia Daze' (film still) 1988

 

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)
Pat Fiske 
(director)
Australia Daze (film still)
1988

 

 

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)
Pat Fiske 
(director)
Australia Daze (film clip)
1988

 

 

The production of Australia Daze involved dozens of camera crews across the nation, filming from midnight to midnight on 26 January 1988, in order to capture the many facets of the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia. From First Fleet re-enactments to Indigenous protests, backyard barbeques to royal visits, Australia Daze chronicles a broad array of events on that historic day and diverse voices and perspectives from across Australian society.

Australia Daze is a snapshot of one day in the millennia-long history of the country. The film is an opportunity for Australians to remember where they were, or to catch a glimpse of Australia’s past before they were born or arrived here. It is a chance to reflect on how much things have changed in 33 years – and also how little has changed.

Anonymous media release from the NFSA website Nd [Online] Cited 21/02/2022

 

Loui Seselja (Australian, b. 1948) 'Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Walk for Reconciliation, Corroboree 2000, with the Aboriginal flag flying beside the Australian flag' 2000

 

Loui Seselja (Australian, b. 1948)
Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Walk for Reconciliation, Corroboree 2000, with the Aboriginal flag flying beside the Australian flag
2000
22.5 x 30.7cm
© National Museum of Australia

Used under fair use condition for the purpose for research or study

 

"Untitled," c. 1932-33 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” c. 1932-33 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled," October/November, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled,” October/November, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Chrysler 70, bought Nov., 1932," in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Chrysler 70, bought Nov., 1932,” in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Springfield", Byng, Near Orange, October 1932" in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Springfield”, Byng, Near Orange, October 1932″ in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Byng

… an area of scattered houses in green valleys (when there is no drought) dates back to before 1856.

It was originally named ‘Cornish Village’ after the original Cornish settlers who brought the first fruit trees from Cornwall and gave birth to the Orange district’s fruit industry on the ‘Pendarvis’ property. Apples were produced in Byng for over 100 years but now there are mainly cattle, sheep and a little cropping.

Driving through the winding lanes with hawthorn hedgerows on either side you will see in the distance an old homestead (Springfield) which has an old Celtic custom – on the porch there are three welcome stones. The host stands on one, the guest on another – then they greet each other on the centre stone.

Text from the Orange website [Online] Cited 01/11/2019. No longer available online

 

"Springfield", Byng, Near Orange, October 1932" in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Springfield”, Byng, Near Orange, October 1932″ in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Remains of the first house built in Byng," October, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Remains of the first house built in Byng,” October, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"At Springfield," 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“At Springfield,” 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"J.F. and Woodward," 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“J.F. and Woodward,” 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"At Springfield," 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“At Springfield,” 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled (Rabbiting)," 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled (Rabbiting),” 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Hawksbury River,' 1932-33 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Hawksbury River,’ 1932-33 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Betty Broad," 16th October, 1932 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Betty Broad,” 16th October, 1932 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Lucknow, Near Orange," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Lucknow, Near Orange,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Lucknow

1929-1935: Prospecting rarely ever ceases on a once lucrative gold-field and in 1928-9 companies such as St. Algnan’s (New Guinea) Gold Lodes N.L. and Lucknow Gold Options Co. were quite busy. In particular St. Aignan’s found a rich ‘brown vein’ away from ‘that portion already riddled with holes’, at a depth of only 38 feet. …

The village has a large potential to attract tourists. The iron head-frames at Wentworth Main and at Reform, right beside the highway in the village area with their accompanying equipment, are the most strikingly accessible of gold mining memorials. At Wentworth Main moreover, the largest of the iron sheds still contains a great deal of equipment, including the stamper battery and various engines. In the paddock to the west of the highway there is isolated equipment- a boiler, a winding engine. The winding house for Reform still stands.

Anonymous. “Gold mining at Lucknow,” on the Orange website [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

"Washing for gold on Springfield," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Washing for gold on Springfield,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"St. Aignan Gold Mine," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“St. Aignan Gold Mine,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Springfield," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Springfield,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Old Bill on the binder," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Old Bill on the binder,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Woodward : McColville ; J.F., filling the ensilage pit," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Woodward : McColville ; J.F., filling the ensilage pit,” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

 

Silage is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by acidification, achieved through fermentation. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants (cud-chewing animals). The fermentation and storage process is called ensilage, ensiling or silaging, and is usually made from grass crops, including maize, sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant (not just the grain).

 

"At "Millambri", Canowindra," 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“At “Millambri”, Canowindra,” 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Bathurst," November 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Bathurst,” November 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Untitled (Victoria)," November, 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Untitled (Victoria),” November, 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Myers, Melbourne," November 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Myers, Melbourne,” November 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

"Bourke St., Melbourne," November 1933 in John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

“Bourke St., Melbourne,” November 1933 in John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album

 

John "Jack" Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album back cover

 

John “Jack” Riverstone Faviell 1922-1933 photo album back cover

 

 

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Text: “Bench Press” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research ‘Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male’, RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

November 2022

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925) 'Instructions for the use of Sandow's spring grip dumb-bells' Between 1900 and 1909 (detail)

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925)
Instructions for the use of Sandow’s spring grip dumb-bells (detail)
Between 1900 and 1909
(23 pages): illustrations; 18 cm
National Library of Australia, Canberra viewed 10 November 2022

 

 

Since the demise of my old website, my PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male (RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001) has no longer been available online.

I have now republished the second of twelve chapters, “Bench Press”, so that it is available to read. More chapters will be added as I get time. I hope the text is of some interest. Other chapters include Historical Pressings which investigates the development of gym culture, its ‘masculinity’, ‘lifestyle’, and the images used to represent it.

Dr Marcus Bunyan November 2022

 

 

“Bench Press” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

Through plain language English (not academic speak) the text of this chapter investigates the development of gym culture, its ‘masculinity’1, ‘lifestyle’, and the images used to represent it. The text also examines the positive and negative effects of this culture on the individual and collective lives and bodies of gay men.

NB. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Historical Pressings and Re-Pressentation chapters for a fuller overview of the development of the muscular male body. This chapter also contains descriptions of sexual activity.

 

Keywords

The Cult of Muscularity, male bodies, queer bodies, bodybuilding, gym culture, masculinity, images of masculinity, development of gym culture, gay men and gym culture, muscular mesomorph, gay lifestyle, self-esteem, body-esteem, Polite Porn, phallic armoured body, desire, HIV/AIDS, photography and the body, before/after photographs, gay desire

 

Sections

  • The Cult of Muscularity
  • The Body and the Social Environment
  • Science, Photography and the Body
  • Before / after photographs
  • Power and the Muscular Body
  • The Phallic Armoured Body
  • Muscle Gods, Hot Jocks, and Gay Desire
  • The Muscular Male Body: Positive and Negative Effects

Word count 7,036

 

 

Bench Press

 

The Cult of Muscularity

 

“… muscularity is a key term in appraising men’s bodies … this comes from men themselves. Muscularity is the sign of power – natural, achieved, phallic.”

.
Richard Dyer 2

 

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925) 'Instructions for the use of Sandow's spring grip dumb-bells' Between 1900 and 1909 (detail)

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925)
Instructions for the use of Sandow’s spring grip dumb-bells (detail)
Between 1900 and 1909
(23 pages): illustrations; 18 cm
National Library of Australia, Canberra viewed 10 November 2022

 

 

‘The Cult of Muscularity’ was formed in the last decade of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century in a reaction to the perceived effeminisation of heterosexual masculinity. Sporting and war heroes became national icons. Muscle proved the ‘masculinity’ of men, fit for power, fit to dominate women and less powerful men. The ‘ideal’ of the perfect masculine body can be linked to a concern for the position and power of men in an industrialised world.3

The position of the active, heroic hetero-male was under attack from the passivity of industrialisation, from the expansion of women’s rights and their ability to become breadwinners, and through the naming of deviant sexualities that were seen as a threat to the stability of society. By naming deviant sexualities they became visible to the general public for the fist time, creating apprehension in the minds of men gazing upon the bodies of other men lest they be thought of as ‘pansies’. (Remember that it was in this decade the trials of Oscar Wilde had taken place in England after he was accused of being a sodomite by The Marquis of Queensbury. It is perhaps no coincidence that the rules that governed boxing, a very masculine sport in which a man could become a popular hero, were named after his accuser. By all accounts he was a brute of a man who despised and beat his son Lord Alfred Douglas and sought revenge on his partner, Oscar Wilde, for their sexual adventures).

Muscles became the sign of heterosexual power, prowess, and virility. A man had control over his body and his physical world. His appearance affected how he interacted with this world, how he saw himself, and was seen by others, and how closely he matched the male physical ‘ideal’ impacted on his own levels of self-esteem. The gymnasium became a meeting point for exercise, for health, for male bonding, and to show off your undoubted ‘masculinity’.

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled [Gym group possibly German/Prussian]' c. 1890-1910

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled [Gym group possibly German/Prussian]
c. 1890-1910
Silver gelatin photograph
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Ultimately, going to the gym has more to do with fitting a certain ‘ideal’ image of ‘masculinity’, that of the muscular mesomorph, than it has to do with getting fit. Aerobic activity such as swimming or running are much more effective ways of getting fit. But what gym work does much better than aerobic activity is that it builds muscle mass. And for a man that wants to be recognised for his physical presence, having more muscle is the epitome of the ‘ideal’.

In a patriarchal society, in other words in a society where men have power over women and other men, to have a masculine body was / is seen as the opposite of being feminine or gay – it emphasises the difference between the position of men and women / gays in society. They are seen as inferior whilst a mesomorphic body confirms ‘real’ men in positions of power over others. No wonder homosexuals found muscular working class men (‘rough trade’) so enticing a sexual fantasy in the early part of this century, and still do to this day.

Still, in being named by the majority limp-wristed ‘nancies’ and by accepting that label now historically ourselves, we forget that not all gay men were pansies with effeminate mannerisms, even in those times.

In contemporary society the division between straight and gay ‘masculine’ bodies has diminished. At dance parties it is now difficult to tell which is the gay body and which is the straight. In seeking acceptance and assimilation into the general society gay men have moulded their bodies on the ‘ideal’ of the muscular mesomorphic model. Both gay and straight men are likely to be striving after the same muscular mesomorphic ideal so much so that they may both become homogenised into a non-feminine, paradoxical asexual masculinity, where very little sexuality exudes from any-body at all!

 

Siegmund Klein – 'Strength & Health' (March 1933) Vol. 1 No. 4

 

Siegmund Klein – Strength & Health (March 1933) Vol. 1 No. 4

 

 

The Body and the Social Environment

The development of ‘The Cult of Muscularity’ may also have parallels in other social environments which were evolving at the turn of the century. For example, I think that the construction of the muscular mesomorphic body can be linked to the appearance of the first skyscrapers in cities in the United States of America. Skyscrapers were a way increasing visibility and surface area within the limited space of a crowded city. One of the benefits of owning a skyscraper like the Chrysler Building in New York, with its increased surface area, was that it got the company noticed. The same can be said of the muscular body. Living and interacting in the city, the body itself is inscribed by social interaction with its environment, its systems of regulation and its memories and historicities (his-tor-i-city, ‘tor’ being a large hill or formation of rocks).

Like a skyscraper, the muscular body has more surface area, is more visible, attracts more attention to its owner and is more admired. The owner of this body is desired because of his external appearance which may give him a feeling of superiority and power over others. However, this body image may also lead to low self-esteem and heightened body dissatisfaction in the owner (causing anxiety and insecurity in his identity) as he constantly strives to maintain and enhance his body to fulfil expectations he has of himself.

Of course, body image is never a static concept as the power of muscular images of the male body resides in their perceived value as a commodity. This value is re-enforced through social moral values, through fluid personal interactions, and through the desire of self and others for this type of body image; it is a hierarchical system of valuation. It relies on what type of body is seen as socially desirable and ‘beautiful’ in a collective sense, even though physical attractiveness is very much a personal choice.

In the four photographs from the 1930s (below) we can see a range of ethnic men portrayed, all seeking the attainment of what was, for them, the perfection of the muscular human form. Indian, Chinese, Black American and Phillipino are all represented. Compare this to today’s cast of body types from a gay muscle fitness video (soft core pornography video aimed squarely at the gay market) and you can see how the broad inclusion of different ethnic types has been tailored to the demographics of its particular buying public (‘masculine’ white gay male).

Today what is desirable in a masculine body seems to be even more limited in its stereotyping than was the case in the 1930s. Then, at least, there was a diversified range of ethnicity. Now, within the ‘lifestyle’ health and fitness magazines, the paradigm for the desirable male body is predominantly the tanned, toned, muscular white male. Thankfully, professional buff, body-builders do still come in all colours!

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Anselus T. Del Rosario' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
Anselus T. Del Rosario
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 78
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

“There is something unusual about the back of this young Phillipino, Anselus T. Del Rosario. The pose is rather original and offers suggestion to others.”

 

Anonymous photographers. 'Three bodybuilders' c. 1930

 

(left to right)

Anonymous photographer
Cheah Chin Poh
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 261
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Prof. C. C. Shah
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 261
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Wesley Williams
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 154
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Science, Photography and the Body

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras the knowledge of science, such as the science of physical fitness for example, allowed the body to become an object that was subject to technical expertise. Physical fitness was taken up by governments and their armies to enforce standards of fitness for recruits, the medical examination ensuring suitability for service and the fitness regime ensuring that all bodies were interchangeable and replaceable in the event of death on the battlefield. The body became a site of intervention; it became malleable and plastic, subject to the demands of the self and State. This trend continues at an unabated pace today especially within the personal sphere; in the ‘miracles’ of steroid enhancement, plastic surgery, implants and liposuction all there to help you attain the ‘perfect’ body. Now ALL bodies can start to look alike, interchangeable one with another.

Photography, also a relatively new science in that era (photography is both an art and a science), confirmed the ‘truth’ of the power of the muscular body through documentary evidence. The camera acted to legitimise the concerns of men over their body image through relationship of power to the practice of representation. Surveillance of the self became a major factor in the construction of your social identity. Through photographs you could judge for yourself whether you measured up to the ‘ideals’ put forward as valuable by society. Therefore images of muscular mesomorphs can and do affect the self-esteem of individuals through a powerful semiotic system that is embedded in the idealised body factually re-presented in a photograph.

This power is validated because people know the key to interpret the coded ‘sign’ language through which photographs, and indeed all images, speak. In neglecting to acknowledge alternative significations present within this semiotically coded power structure there is the opportunity for one dominant image to be chosen selectively over other types of less ‘valuable’ body images, eventually leading to the possible loss of the key to decode the desirability of ‘other’ body images.

The problem with dominant images that promote the masculinity and power of the muscular mesomorphic body is that they portray one supposed objective truth which is impossible, for there can be can many changing ‘truths’ (viewed from many subjective and objective positions).4 Personally, I believe we should see things not solely as they are from an objective point of view and not purely from an appeal to an “actively struggled for” subjectivity (as argued for by David Smail), but perhaps emerging from a knowledge of the fluid nature of truth, an ever changing combination of many variable truths. Being true to ourselves does not require a one-eyed point of view for we must try to see things from many different points of view to appreciate that there are many shifting, non-final subjective, objective and variable ‘truths’ in life.

Images can be a fabrication just as easily as they are supposed to speak the language of an objective ‘truth’. For example, in the 1870s Dr. Barnardo had photographs taken that showed rough, dirty, and dishevelled children arriving at his homes, and then paired them with photographs of the same children bright as a new pin, happy and working in the homes afterwards. These photographs were used to sell the story of children saved from poverty and oppression and happy in the homes; they appeared on cards which were sold to raise money to support the work of these homes. Dr. Barnardo was taken to court when one such pair of photographs was found to be a fabrication, an ‘artistic fiction’.5

Photographs can be used not only as a tool of observation but as a commodity, to advertise, support and sell the existence of a regime of power that controls the body, in the case of Dr. Barnardo the body of the child. In this way the body of the child becomes a commodity too.

 

Before / after photographs

Anonymous photographer. 'M. J. Poncela' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
M. J. Poncela
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 211
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'George Renzi, Jr.' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
George Renzi, Jr.
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 210
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' c. 1952

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled
c. 1952
‘Before photo/after photo, 35 day Johnson bodybuilding program advertisement’, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, pp. 26-27.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'The New Theory of Evolution (Unretouched photographs taken over a period of less than 12 weeks)' 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
The New Theory of Evolution (Unretouched photographs taken over a period of less than 12 weeks)
1998
Experimental and Applied Sciences advertisement, 1998, in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, pp. 2-3.

 

 

The same process of commodification of the body can be seen in the ‘Before and After’ photographs from the 1930’s. The science of physical fitness has always sold product to go with its ideals and the use of before and after photos echoes those of Dr. Barnardo. Here I am looking at my own weak and puny body and then looking at these photographs and advertisements that are telling me: ‘You can have a bigger, better body in only (substitute x amount of time) days or weeks!’ You can attain the perfect male body. But it will cost you. In time, in money, in sacrifices, perhaps in failure. But you desire that body don’t you, you want that body, you want to belong!

The photographs from the 1930s show examples of bodily improvement over a period of one year, a reasonable amount of time given the improvement shown. As the century progressed however, the claims for products became more outlandish and photography was used to bolster these claims. In the 1952 photographs above for example, the photograph is used to authenticate the models physical improvement in just 35 days! Note, however, that in the second photograph the model is standing closer to the camera than in the first one, he has a tan which makes him look healthier, is oiled up, and his hair is bigger to give him more physical presence. He is also engaging the gaze of the viewer, returning his look, which in itself is a more challenging, defiant act.

Nothing much has changed in advertising claims from the 1950s until today. In the unretouched sequence of photographs (above) from 1998 (for a leading supplier of sports nutritional supplements), we are asked to believe a new, super-fast “Theory of Evolution” exists, all achieved in less than 12 weeks.

I am not suggesting for one minute that these photographs actually lie. But they do restructure the ‘truth’. Firstly, the model does not have an ‘ordinary’ body to start with. You only have to look at the legs and arms in all four photographs to realise that this man is probably a bodybuilder who is out of condition and training. In the first photograph he is stooped, unkempt, unshaven, hairy, flat-footed & slovenly. Much the same as the photographs of children arriving at the Dr. Barnardo’s homes in the 1870s. Funny about that. As the sequence progresses he becomes happier, taller, more ‘pumped’ and ‘cut’ till he positively shines like burnished steel, his muscles glowing as he strides on the balls of his feet into the future. His fists become clenched to emphasise his bulging muscles and his manliness.

Hey, its a ‘lifestyle’ thing. Muscular men look after their bodies, have no moral disorders and are happier and more successful!

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Bill Good executing Stretching Exercise course' c. 1930 and 'Bill Good executing Free Motion exercises' c. 1930

 

(left and right)

Anonymous photographer
Bill Good executing Stretching Exercise course
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 143
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Bill Good executing Free Motion exercises
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 127
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Power and the Muscular Body

Increasingly, the body was not only able to exercise on its way to muscularity it was also able to exercise the ritual semiotic language of the hyper-masculine body as power over the social body in general. A sociology of the body was constructed based on the interaction with history, memory and context. Men sought to transform their body and the social body through the structures and rituals of power, naming deviants such as homosexuals as ‘other’ and therefore reducing them to an inferior status. It is not surprising that homosexual men are attracted to this power. For a long time they have been subject to persecution & derision, and saw themselves as inferior. Now, with the adoption of hyper-masculine bodies as the epitome of gay male image, gay men seek to be ‘real’ men perhaps even more than straight men. Unfortunately this may reinforce traditional patriarchal stereotypes within the gay community, a community that is supposed to pride itself on equality and diversity. The very things that homosexuals have long fought against, oppression and discrimination, may be confirmed in the exercising of power by the muscular ‘ideal’ within the gay community.

In the conformation of the power of the muscular body I suggest that gay men may have adopted a mask to cover their own insecurities in order to seek acceptance for themselves into the gay and general population. This mask has become more than just a facade for some gay men, it has become their reality. The owner of a body that measures up to the ideal may seek acceptance of him- self in the perfection of his own reflection. What he sees in this reflection is, perhaps, not his ‘true’ self but a mask that is put on, a pre-formed surface that reflects the values of the society from which it emanates, perhaps a surface that is only skin deep inscribed by his social enculturation and assimilation. Once put on this mask is very difficult to take off; how many times do we see the words “straight acting” in newspaper advertisements in the gay press describing what is sexually offered and wanted, as though being str8-acting enables our gay masculinity and makes us ‘real’ men? I believe it is no longer an ironic act for gay men to try and fulfil the straight hyper-masculine ideal, not a ‘camp’ ironic comment as it used to be, but a deadly serious endeavour. This has important repercussions for the psyche of all gay men and I discuss these repercussions later in this chapter and also in the (S)ex-press chapter.

As can be seen from the photographs within this text, there has been a development of the complete ‘look’ of the body over the last century. Beautiful muscles compliment a beautiful ‘lifestyle’6 and an equally beautiful tan. Appearance and the power of that appearance is now of the essence. The appearance of this ideal ‘lifestyle’ is available to everyone of us, regardless of social status or age, how rich or poor we are as gay men – yeah, right!

 

Raymond Vino. 'Steve Downs' 1998

 

Raymond Vino
Steve Downs
1998
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 103.

 

Bob Jones (American) 'Short Mens Class', 'Untitled', 'Untitled' 1952

 

(top to bottom)

Bob Jones (American)
Short Mens Class
Untitled
Untitled
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 8
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Now aren’t there some good looking men amongst this lot! I wonder how many of them were gay? Not an effeminate man to be seen here, you can bet your life. These are all ‘real’ he-men: strong, masculine and ruggedly virile examples of manhood. There is still a range of ethnicities present in these 1950s photographs, from Brazilians to Afro-Americans & men of Asian origin but there is not a hairy man amongst them. They probably shaved for the event, a very feminine thing for a man to do! These photographs also serve to illustrate another point: that although body shape might be slightly different when compared to each other, overall the bodies seem to form a homogenised whole, forms which seem to have been pressed from the same mould (‘template man’).

 

 

We observe the billboards with the fashionable ‘lifestyle’ Calvin Klein underwear ads, featuring some truly amazing bodies. We desire these bodies in all their airbrushed glory, ‘simulations’ of an ideal world where bodies are perfect, not all sorts of shapes and sizes as in the real world.

We lust after the perfect idealisation of the muscular body and the projected power that this ‘ideal’ body image and its lifestyle proposes. This perfection is never obtainable, of course, because we can always have bigger muscles, a better tan, more fashionable clothes, etc. … The ‘ideal’ is like a carrot on a stick, always just beyond our reach, like an ever receding dream.

 

Anonymous. 'Untitled [Posing straps]' 1952

 

Anonymous
Untitled [Posing straps]
1952
Athletic Model Guild advertisement, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 50.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The Phallic Armoured Body

In much of the imagery of the muscular male the body becomes a substitute for the undisclosed and hidden power of the penis. The body becomes a huge phallus, hard and rigid, strong, erect, and powerful. The muscular body acts as a phallic symbol, surrounding itself with an implied sexual mystique, the physical embodiment of the male phallic power. But the penis can never live up to these expectations.7 After all the penis is just an appendage of limp flesh and looks faintly ridiculous most of the time!

Thus, the muscular body becomes a form of dominance display; hard, bulging muscles embodying the mystical potency and virility implied in its phallic construction. Gay men are attracted to the fantasy of a powerful phallus. They too want to be powerful. In some sections of the gay community (especially the ‘Muscle Marys’ as they are known) the muscular body is seen as the epitome of physical attractiveness. This body type has a powerful image, as much for the supposed power of its hidden penis as anything else. A big body can stand as a metaphor for the power of a big dick, something which some gay men seem obsessed with. Muscular gay men are often derided by other gay men by saying that ‘he must have a big body because he can’t have a big dick’, or if a gay man is obviously on steroids then his balls, ‘will have shrivelled up like walnuts and he will have no sex drive’.

I wonder whether this a truth or are some gay men just jealous?

The body as phallus has also become an armoured body, supposedly able to protect its occupant from the anxieties and stress of modern life. This body
allows the occupant to control his environment through his body, not allowing any transgressive pleasures / messy secretions / intimacy / love to interject into his controlled armoured existence – no a(r)mour, no love. The body surface becomes an impervious barrier, all orifices closed to seepage across its boundaries. Hard, shiny and smooth nothing can penetrate this perfect projectile. This is especially significant with the onset of the HIV/AIDS virus. A big body was and is perhaps still seen as a healthy body, muscles becoming a sign and symbol of health within the gay community.

“Burn off more than you can chew” (below) is a contemporary advertisement that I believe illustrates the linkage between the phallic smooth, white muscular mesomorphic body and product. Advertising helps encourage the body to become a consumer of the product and postulates the body as a perfect product for consumption itself, at one and the same time. The model with the 6-pak looks longingly at the phallic, erect, penis shaped bar (a ‘bar’ in gay slang is a stiff cock), eats the bar to burn fat, to become ‘ripped’, so other men can gaze at and desire the perfection of his body as a product they wish to consume themselves by having sex with him. His body, his (chocolate) bar becomes a metaphor for the mythological power of his bulging (just) hidden penis.

 

Iron Man

1950s bodybuilders

 

(left to right)

Douglas (photographer)
“Vic Seipke of the N.E.YMCA of Detroit. Height 5’9″. 186 pounds, neck 18, chest 48, arm 17, waist 29, thigh 25, calf 16, ankle 9 and a half. Won Mr. Michigan, 3rd in Mr. Mid-America 7th in Mr. America.”
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 23.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer. “Bill Pearl, another pupil of the Stern gym is 21 and at a height of 5’9″ weighs 209, with a 17″ neck, 47″ chest, 32″ waist, 18″ arm, 8″ wrist, 25 and a half thigh and 16″ calf.”
1952,
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 22.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Bob Jones (photographer). “Jim Park, Mr. World”
1952, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 7.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Fritshe (photographer)
“Mike Barrilli, a pupil of Fritshe, won the Jr. Mr. Atlantic title in 1950. At 20 years of age he is 5’6″ tall and weighs 160 pounds of perfectly proportioned muscle.”
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 21.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer/designer. "Burn off more than you can chew" c. 1999

 

Anonymous photographer/designer
“Burn off more than you can chew”
c. 1999
Aussie Bodies advertisement in Clifton, Paul and Gennari, Isabelle (eds.,). Midsumma Festival 2000 guide. Melbourne: Midsumma Festival, 1999.

 

Body Builders

 

(left to right)

Carl Hensel
Untitled
Nd
in Dutton, Kenneth. The Perfectible Body. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 193

Anonymous photographer
Bob Paris
Nd
in Dutton, Kenneth. The Perfectible Body. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 248

 

 

Muscle Gods, Hot Jocks, and Gay Desire

 

“It was my dream to get a body … I would see all of those guys with their muscles and I wanted to be one of them … It’s not even like I want to really even hang out with the muscle gods, I mean, after I do get into bed with one, it usually is a letdown. Beyond the sex, which is sometimes really dull, I’m usually saying to myself, why did you obsess over getting this guy? We never have anything in common. They’re usually so involved in their bodies – and it really is an all-consuming project to be a muscle god, and work out, like, all the time – that they don’t have any interests beyond talking about the gym and the scene. But that’s the thing about it. It’s the private club, the world of the muscle gods, and you don’t want to be excluded from it …”

.
Mark, 44 year-old New Yorker quoted in Signorile, Michelangelo. Life Outside. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 168.

 

In the relationship between gay men and going to the gym to muscle up a sense of belonging to the group is an important factor. Often having been persecuted in early life gay men want to belong to a team, and if belonging to the team that is seen as the most desirable means getting a bigger body then so be it, they will do anything to get that body. Gay men can become muscle gods too!

In the above photograph by Carl Hensel we can see one of these muscle gods, his body pumped up like a hooded cobra about to strike. The importance of his genital area is reduced thanks to the smallness of his posing pouch. In serious bodybuilding reducing the eroticism of the body is important in containing the possibility of homoerotic attraction when men view other men’s bodies. The supposed lack of homoeroticism in bodybuilding is upset when one of the fold, for example Bob Paris (above right), openly declares himself to be gay.

Men do lust after and desire other men’s bodies in any context.

This desire has been commodified in contemporary muscular male imagery. The ‘hot jock’ stereotype has been legitimised as a site of lust and desire. The advertisement below comes from a magazine entitled Exercise for Men Only, a publication aimed primarily at ‘lifestyle’ straight and gay men. These images are not aimed at women. They reveal, as the ad says, “Every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies,” and appeal to men who admire, come along and “feel the heat” of these types of physique. This is soft porn of the entire body a la 1990s style, clothed in the justification of beautiful, artistic cinematography much as the photographers of the 1950s used the devise of association with classical ‘ideals’ to justify the publication of their images. Note how in this advertisement all the bodies conform to the stereotypical ‘ideal’ of the muscular, buff, tanned, white male.

To a great extent this ‘ideal’ has been promulgated and propagated by the imagery used in American gay porn videos since the early 1980s. The imagery of Muscleforce (below) is a good example, linking as it does muscle and power within an eroticism of homosexual lust and desire.

(For more detailed information about the development of the imagery of gay pornography in the media please visit the gay male pornography section in the In-Press chapter).

 

The Muscular Male Body: Positive and Negative Effects

 

“Given their poor reception in the outside world, men who are physically weak understandably experience low self-confidence. What’s surprising is that their mirror opposites – the hunks and superjocks – often suffer from the same problem.”

.
Barry Glasner8

 

Looking at the positive side of developing a muscular body we find several benefits. Increased fitness is healthy and the gym provides a raised awareness of the bodies capabilities. The sense of belonging to a socially powerful group of people that comes with being part of a team may increase your self-esteem; your self-esteem may also be improved through the admiration of others for your body. More sexual intercourse may also occur because your body-type is seen as more desirable by men. James Hatzi from Colts Gym in Melbourne, Australia, sees no negative aspects to the pressure exerted on gay men to get a muscular body:

“They’ve got to eat right to look that way, they’ve got to exercise. So all the things they are doing are positive. If they build themselves up and look good, they’re always going to have a positive outlook. I can see only positive effects of people wanting to improve themselves.”9

 

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Muscle Heatwave' Vista Video advertisement, c. 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
Muscle Heatwave
Vista Video advertisement, c. 1998
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 47.

 

Join Eight Muscular Young Fitness Stars in this Steamy Sequel to “Muscles in Paradise”
Exciting Sequences and Remarkable Photography reveal every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies
Come Along… Live the Adventure and Feel the Heat!
(Includes Beautiful Artistic Cinematography of the ENTIRE Male body)

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Muscleforce' c. 1996

 

Anonymous photographer
Muscleforce
c. 1996
Cover of Fox Studios pornography video

 

 

My research suggests that there are positive effects, such as higher levels of self-esteem (but not necessarily), more confidence in themselves, greater fitness and management of health, and the ability to have sex with more desirable partners. But there are also many negative effects which James Hatzi does not mention. Perhaps because he runs a gym?

Dr. Lina Ricciardelli, researcher on body image and eating disorders in The School of Psychology at Deakin University, Melbourne, conducted a study that found that gay men had the second highest level of body dissatisfaction after heterosexual women.10 Further, Arthur Blouin and Gary Goldfield have noted that,

“A relationship among self-esteem, proneness to depression, and body dissatisfaction has been reported among both males and females … Among males, body image concerns appear to be greatest for those who are below average weight for height with serious negative effects on self-esteem and social adjustment. As a result, it has been suggested that men who see themselves as underweight may pursue bodybuilding, male hormones, and steroids in order to attain an exaggerated “hypermesomorphic” look.”11

.
But becoming a bodybuilder does not alleviate these problems and indeed probably exacerbates them. Blouin and Goldfield go on to comment that,

“In addition to the body image dissatisfaction and abnormal eating practices exhibited in bodybuilders, bodybuilders reported perfectionism, feelings of ineffectiveness, low interoceptive awareness, and low self-esteem.”11

.
So much for James Hatzi not seeing any negative effects in bodybuilding!

 

One of the most important studies on the muscular mesomorphic body has been undertaken by Marc Mishkind, Linda Rodin, Lisa Silberstein and Ruth Striegel-Moore. They found that a majority of all men preferred the mesomorphic shape body over the ectomorphic (thin) or endomorphic (fat). Within the mesomorphic category most men preferred the hypermesomorphic or muscular mesomorphic body. They found that men have a greater degree of body satisfaction when their body shape fits this ‘ideal’. When there is a gap between their actual and ‘ideal’ body types, and the greater this gap, the lower their self-esteem. They observed that,

“The discrepancy between self and ideal is problematic only when men believe that those closest to the ideal reap certain benefits not available to those further away. Research strongly suggests that this is true, both because physical appearance is so important generally in our society and because of the specific benefits that accrue to mesomorphic men.”12

.
This is particularly true within the gay community, where attraction and sex are based primarily on physical appearance and the muscular mesomorphic shape is seen as the ‘ideal’. Indeed, Mishkind et al found that gay men, who place increased importance on aspects such as body build, grooming, dress and handsomeness,

“Expressed greater dissatisfaction with body build, waist, biceps, arms and stomach. Gay men also indicated a greater discrepancy between their actual and ideal body shapes than did “straight” men and showed higher scores on measures of eating disregulation and food and weight preoccupation.”12

.
(For a longer extract from the paper by Mishkind et al please see Appendix A after the footnotes)

 

In this research project I have taken this obsession with possessing the ideal muscular body in the gay community into largely unexplored territory. As can be seen from two of the interviews that I have conducted (See Story 4 and Story 5 in the Personal Press chapter) gay men are placing themselves at greater risk of contraction of the HIV/AIDS virus because of their need to possess the body of the ‘ideal’. This may mean taking risks such as having sex without a condom in order to achieve their desires.

Personally I suffered from an acute lack of self-esteem in respect to my body image; I went to gym for years wanting a bigger body, desiring this kind of body for myself and in others. I could never achieve what I wanted and this made me really depressed; it undermined my self-esteem. But I learnt to live with the body I had and came to enjoy its familiarity. Now as I get older the youth and beauty thing is passing and I am no longer ‘forever young’. This is a difficult time for gay men and a lot (of gay men) enter counselling after the age of 35 to cope with this situation. Magazines with covers, articles and quotations like the one below, using the imagery of young men when advertising an issue on anti-ageing, don’t help either. You might not be this young but you can drool over (t)his aspect of youth that WE ALL strive to maintain.

 

Martin Ryter. 'Untitled' Nd in Exercise for Men Only 1998

 

Martin Ryter
Untitled
Nd
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, Cover

 

“Talk about anti-ageing – our cover model looks as if he just graduated high school. The important thing to remember is that Martin Ryter’s cover shot reflects the aspects of youth that we all strive to maintain. You may not always look quite this young, but there is no reason why you can’t look your best at any age.”

 

100 anti-ageing tips.
Special Longevity/Anti-Ageing Issue.
Age-Defying Shoulder Regimen for men Over 35
(as though all our shoulders fall apart after 35!)
Human Growth Hormone: Nature’s Fountain of Youth.
Total Body Training Builds Muscle after 40.
Power Chest Routine Halts the March of Time.

 

 

Nothing halts the march of time I’m afraid. What you have to get used to is accepting the fact, accepting that your body is getting older and changing, and you move on from there. Using a model that, as they say, looks as if he has just graduated high school is promoting the ‘ideal’ of the eternal youth. Gay men are obsessed by youth and beauty, and this magazine panders to their insecurities, telling them that they can beat the march of time, remaining ever youthful and desirable. This is a fallacy much as the strong muscular body is a deceptive phallacy, a hard armoured body that signifies the supposed sexual mystique of the phallus and the omnipotence of the hidden penis.

Another tool ‘Polite Porn’13 magazines such as ‘Exercise For Men Only’use are the poses of the models. ‘Shredded, ageless abs in just 6 weeks’ scream the headlines and there is the model with his hands wandering seductively down to his genital region via his unbuttoned trousers – the suggestiveness of the pose has nothing to do with abs at all and everything to do with sex.

 

Atomic Studio/Mark Howland. 'Untitled' Nd in Exercise for Men Only 1998

 

Atomic Studio/Mark Howland
Untitled
Nd
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 36

 

J. Neu. 'Untitled' Nd in Exercise for Men Only 1998

 

J. Neu
Untitled
Nd
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 20.

 

 

Many of the poses in these magazines come straight out of pornography magazines and videos. Arms raised behind head to reveal the erotic under- arm area, genitals pressing against skimpy Lycra outfits so the outline of the cock can be seen, as in the example above. This has to be one of my favourite photographs from this issue, probably close to my ideal body-type (his height, smoothness, size of his arms, magnificent abs, lats, pecs, his button nose and his blue eyes). What would I do to have sex with him?

The body in all its glory becomes both an active and a passive site of desire. In the Prevail Sport advertisement (below) from the same issue of Exercise for Men Only, we can see the gaze of the model at top left actively challenging the desiring gaze of the viewer. At bottom left the hard body as phallus compliments the outlines of the erect penis in the underwear, hinting at its hidden power. At middle left and right the body becomes a passive masturbatory landscape for the viewer as the model is seemingly asleep, allowing the viewer to caress the body with his eyes without fear of rejection. The crotch and arse become the focus of this desire.

(For more information on the gaze please go to the Eye-Pressure chapter)

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' Nd in Exercise for Men Only 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled
Nd
Prevail Sport underwear advertisement
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 15

 

 

It is very difficult not to take binary positions in regard to the positive and negative contributions of gym culture to the gay community throughout the Western world. Nothing in the world is ever solely black / white, straight / gay, masculine / feminine, but many shades of grey in-between. There are both positive and negative effects that emanate from gym culture and the desire of many gay men to attain a muscular mesomorphic body but on balance I believe that gym culture and its ‘lifestyle’ are quite exclusive and elitist. I would suggest that if you are going to try and attain the body that you desire then the best way to go about it is to fully understand the implications of your decision to try and attain that body before you start, and the reasons that lie behind your decision.

Brian Pronger has observed that,

“The ‘new gay man’ … is the man who has developed his body to reflect his desires and therefore his understanding of himself.”14

.
I disagree with this statement.

Contrary to what Brain Pronger proposes I suggest that the ‘new gay man’ who has developed his body has not necessarily developed a greater understanding of himself compared to any other gay man. I propose that what gay men are attracted to is a reflection, and it is only a reflection, a mirror image of how they would like to see themselves; this is not a greater understanding of themselves and having a developed body does not necessarily lead to a greater understanding of the Self. The (self)reflection of a person’s desires through the development of their body may indeed tell them (and you) something about their desires (for a similar body?), but I suggest that this desire has, in many cases, been directed by external forces; by society, reflected appraisal, social comparison and rituals of learned behaviour for example.

In some instances developing the body can be seen as a cure all by gay men to the problems that beset them – insecurities, fear of rejection, and the lack of love, intimacy and connection with other men to name just a few. Unfortunately the development of a muscular mesomorphic body may mask these problems behind a hard, armoured facade where no one can see what is going on, least of all the person that lives in the body. I believe that this is not encouraging or developing a greater understanding of the Self but is perhaps just the self gratification of personal desires enacted through the (self)reflexivity of a perfect image.

Is it not ironic that in a community that prides itself on diversity, the reliance of that community on one type of physical ideal of attractiveness mirrors the discrimination that so many gay men have suffered over the years at the hands of heterosexuals. The muscular mesomorphic stereotype, much as the stereotyping of gay men as effeminate in the past, does not serve the gay community well. It just provides a reinforcement of traditional ‘masculinity’ and its values in the form of the muscular mesomorphic body. I suggest that this type of body has become the outward sign of a patriarchal homosexuality, the dominance of some gay men over other gay men through a desirable visible symbology.

Dr Marcus Bunyan
2001

 

 

Footnotes

1/ Throughout my PhD and project notes (including the development of interview questions, the analysis of data, and the development of evolving theory), I have used the quotation below as the basis for my definition of the term ‘masculinity’.
“The category of “masculinity” should be seen as always ambivalent, always complicated, always dependent on the exigencies [meaning: necessary conditions and requirements] of personal and institutional power … [masculinity is] an interplay of emotional and intellectual factors – an interplay that directly implicates women as well as men, and is mediated by other social factors, including race, sexuality, nationality, and class … Far from being just about men, the idea of masculinity engages, inflects, and shapes everyone.”
Berger, Maurice, Wallis, Brian and Watson, Simon (eds.,). Constructing Masculinity. New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 3-7. Introduction.

2/ Dyer, Richard. Only Entertainment. London: Routledge, 1992, p. 114, quoted in Stratton, Jon. The Desirable Body. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 195.

3/ See Gorn, Elliott. The Manly Art. London: Robson Books, 1986.

4/ “Where objective knowing is passive, subjective knowing is active – rather than giving allegiance to a set of methodological rules which are designed to deliver up truth through some kind of automatic process [in this case the image], the subjective knower takes a personal risk in entering into the meaning of the phenomena to be known…
Those who have some time for the validity of subjective experience but intellectual qualms about any kind of ‘truth’ which is not ‘objective’, are apt to solve their problem by appealing to some kind of relativity. For example, it might be felt that we all have our own versions of the truth about which we must tolerantly agree to differ. While in some ways this kind of approach represents an advance on the brute domination of ‘objective truth’, it in fact undercuts and betrays the reality of the world given to our subjectivity. Subjective truth has to be actively struggled for: we need the courage to differ until we can agree.
Though the truth is not just a matter of personal perspective, neither is it fixed and certain, objectively ‘out there’ and independent of human knowing. ‘The truth’ changes according to, among other things, developments and alterations in our values and understandings … the ‘non-finality’ of truth is not to be confused with a simple relativity of ‘truths’.”
Smail, David. Illusion and Reality: The Meaning of Anxiety. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1984, pp. 152-153.

5/ See Tagg, John. The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988, p. 85.

6/ ‘Lifestyle’ was a term conceived by the Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler in the 1920s in order to describe the attitudes that inform a person’s experience of life. By the 1960s style, fashion and consumerism had overlaid its original meaning and now a ‘lifestyle’ is perhaps a style of life based on your ability to have, compete and move in valued social circles. It has become a combination of both materialism and psychiatry. Much as ‘homosexuality’ was medically named as a deviancy in the 1870s in order to control that deviancy through treatment and regulation, ‘lifestyle’ has links to the medical profession which names its [lifestyles that is] effects on the identity of the self.
“Lifestyle refers to a relatively integrated set of practices chosen by an individual in order to give material form to a particular narrative of self-identity. The more tradition loses its ability to provide people with a secure and stable sense of self, the more individuals have to negotiate lifestyle choices, and attach importance to these choices.”
Schilling, Chris. The Body and Social Theory. London: Sage Publications, 1993, pp. 181-183.

7/ “The penis can never live up to the mystique implied by the phallus. Hence the excessive, even hysterical quality of so much male imagery. The clenched fists, the bulging muscles, the hardened jaws, the proliferation of phallic symbols – they are all straining after what can hardly ever be achieved, the embodiment of the phallic physique.” (My italics).
Dyer, R. Only Entertainment. London: Routledge, 1992, p. 116, quoted in Stratton, Jon. The Desirable Body. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 195.

8/ Glassner, Barry. Bodies – Why We Look the Way We Do (And How We Feel About It). New York: G.P. Puttnam, 1988, p. 122.

9/ Hatzi, James, quoted in Cho, Natasha. “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” in Melbourne Star Observer. Melbourne: Bluestone Media, 6th June, 1997, p. 9.

10/ Riccciardelli, Lina, commenting on her study in Cho, Natasha. “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” in Melbourne Star Observer. Melbourne: Bluestone Media, 6th June, 1997, p. 9.

11/ Blouin, Arthur and Goldfield, Gary. “Body Image and Steroid Use in Male Bodybuilders,” in International Journal of Eating Disorders Vol. 18. No. 2. John Wiley and Sons Inc., 1995, pp. 160-164.

12/ Mishkind, Marc, Rodin, Linda, Silberstein, Lisa and Striegel-Moore, Ruth. “The Embodiment of Masculinity: Cultural, Psychological and Behavioural Dimensions,” in Kimmel, M. (ed.,). Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1987, pp. 37-47.

13/ McKee, Alan. “Polite Porn,” in Brother Sister. Melbourne. 18th May, 1995, p. 13.

14/ Pronger, Brain. The Arena Of Masculinity: Sport, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

 

 

Appendix A

Extract from Mishkind, Marc, Rodin, Linda, Silberstein, Lisa and Striegel-Moore, Ruth. “The Embodiment of Masculinity: Cultural, Psychological and Behavioural Dimensions,” in Kimmel, M. (ed.,). Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1987, pp. 37-47.

 

How Men Feel About Their Bodies

One index of men’s bodily concern is their degree of satisfaction with their physical appearance … Studies suggest that men carry with them images of both their own body and also their ideal body, and that these two images are non identical … Dissatisfaction [amongst men] is not general and diffuse but highly specific and differentiated. Men consistently express their greatest dissatisfaction toward chest, weight and waist … Given that men experience significant body dissatisfaction because they see themselves as deviating from the ideal, it becomes crucial to determine the ideal male body type. When asked about physique preferences, the overwhelming majority of males report that they would prefer to be mesomorphic (ie., of well-proportioned, average build) as opposed to ectomorphic (thin) or endomorphic (fat).

This preference is expressed by boys as young as 5 and 6 (R. Lerner and E. Gellert. “Body Build Identifications, Preference, and Aversion in Children,” in Developmental Psychology 1. 1969, pp. 456-462; and R. Lerner and C. Schroeder. “Physique Identification, Preference and Aversion in Kindergarten Children,” in Developmental Psychology 5. 1971, p. 538) and also by college-age men (L. A. Tucker. “Relationship between perceived somatotype and body cathexis of college males,” in Psychological Reports 50. 1982, pp. 983-989). Within the mesomorphic category, a majority select what we shall refer to as the hypermesomorphic or muscular mesomorphic body as preferred (Tucker, 1982). This physique is the “muscle-man”-type body characterized by well-developed chest and arm muscles and wide shoulders tapering down to a narrow waist. Men indicate greater body satisfaction to the extent that their self- reported (Tucker, 1982) or actual (S. Jourard and P. Secord. “Body Size and Body Cathexis,” in Journal of Consulting Psychology 18. 1954, p. 184; and A. Sugerman and F. Haronian. “Body Type and Sophistication of Body Concept,” in Journal of Personality 32. 1964, pp. 380-394) body shape resembles this ideal.

That many men feel bodily dissatisfaction because they do not resemble the mesomorphic or hypermesomorphic ideal might not in itself be particularly distressing. The discrepancy between self an ideal is problematic only when men believe that those closest to the ideal reap certain benefits not available to those further away. Research strongly suggests that this is true, both because physical appearance is so important generally in our society and because of the specific benefits that accrue to mesomorphic men.

 

Mesomorphy and Masculinity

We believe that the muscular mesomorph is the ideal because it is intimately tied to cultural views of masculinity and the male sex role, which prescribes that men be powerful, strong, efficacious – even domineering and destructive. The embodiment of masculinity, the muscular mesomorph is seen as more efficacious, experiencing greater mastery and control over the environment, and feeling more invulnerable … and men consider physical attractiveness virtually equivalent to physical potency (R. M. Lerner, J. B. Orlos and J. R. Knapp. “Physical attractiveness, physical effectiveness, and self-concept in late adolescents,” in Adolescence 11. 1976, pp. 313-326). Hence they experience an intimate relationship between body image and potency – that is, masculinity – with the muscular mesomorph representing the masculine ideal. A man who fails to resemble the body ideal is, by implication, failing to live up to sex-role norms, and may thus experience the consequences of violating such norms.

 

MARCUS: This is very interesting in regards to the relationship between gay men and the ‘ideal’ body image of the muscular mesomorph. I believe that gay men have a very strong relationship between body image and potency. The hard, armoured, muscular body can be seen as a huge phallus, a metaphor for the power of the hidden penis. From my own experience I know that most gay men have a thing about penis size (“he was hung like a cashew,” meaning he had a very small cock, or “he was hung like a donkey,” meaning he had a very large cock are common phrases) and some are real ‘size queens’. When the penis is hidden the external form of the body becomes a conduit for its power. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why gay men desire the muscular mesomorphic body so much, because of the perceived relationship between potency, the hidden size of the cock and the hard body. I do not agree with Mishkind et al that potency equates solely to masculinity. I think that potency is about a sexual virility and desire that is independent from, but connected to, masculinity. Masculinity is not just about men, it is about history, identity, women, society, culture, behaviour and many more perspectives. To equate potency with masculinity without qualifying that masculinity operates from multiple perspectives and in many diverse areas is I think a mistake.

 

A Man’s Body And His Sense Of Self

Studies have revealed consistently a significant correlation between men’s body satisfaction and self-esteem, the average correlation of these studies being around 0.5. Although some studies have found a stronger relationship between body-esteem and self-esteem for women than for men (R. M. Lerner, S. A. Karabenick and J. L. Stuart. “Relations among physical attractiveness, body attitudes, and self concept in male and female college students,” in Journal of Psychology 85. 1973, pp. 119-129; and P. F. Secord and S. M. Jourard. “The appraisal of body cathexis: Body cathexis and the self,” in Journal of Consulting Psychology 17. 1953, pp. 343-347), others have found comparable or even greater relationships between body satisfaction and measures of self-esteem, anxiety, and depression for men than for women (S. Franzoi and S. Shields. “The Body Esteem Scale: Multidimensional Structure and Sex Differences in a College Population,” in Journal of Personality Assessment 48. 1984, pp. 173-178; and B. Goldberg and C. Folkins. “Relationship of Body-Image to Negative Emotional Attitudes,” in Perceptual and Motor Skills 39. 1974, pp. 1053-1054). How a man feels about himself is thus tied closely to how he feels about his body. It remains for researchers to examine the relative importance of body image to a man’s sense of self when compared to other variables such as career achievement, but the data already available suggest that feeling about body play a significant role in self-esteem.

 

Efforts To Decrease The Gap Between Actual And Ideal Body Shape

We have seen that a great number of men acknowledge a gap between their actual and ideal body types, and that the greater this gap, the lower their self-esteem. As a result, men feel motivated to close this gap. This often depends upon which parts of the body are the foci of dissatisfaction. In a large-scale factor-analytic study, Franzoi and Shields (1984) found three primary dimensions along which men’s bodily satisfaction and dissatisfaction occur …

 

MARCUS: According to Mishkind et al basically:

    1. physical attractiveness (face);
    2. upper body strength (muscles); and
    3. physical conditioning (fitness)

 

Given that the physical effects of endurance workouts may be less readily visible than the effects of bodybuilding, we surmise that men who want to be recognized for their physical masculinity are more likely to opt for muscle building as their form of physical exercise … A man who strives to bridge the self-denial gap will experience a heightened attentiveness to and focus on his body. This may render his standards more perfectionist (and hence more out of reach) and enhance his perceptions of his shortcomings. Both his limitations and the gap itself can become increasingly salient. To the extent that he feels he falls short, he will experience the shame of failure. He may also feel ashamed at being so focused on his body, presumably because this has been associated traditionally with the female sex-role type …

Thus far we have focused only on the negative consequences of trying to attain the masculine body ideal. There a powerfully positive consequences. The more a man experiences himself as closing the self-ideal gap – for example, through exercising – the more positive he will feel toward body and self … (My italics). The more a man works toward attaining his body ideal and the closer he perceives himself to approximating it, the greater his sense of self-efficacy.

 

Subcultures Of High Bodily Concern

The increased cultural attention given to the male body and the increasing demands placed on men to achieve the mesomorphic build push men further along the continuum of bodily concern. Men are likely experiencing more body dissatisfaction, preoccupation with weight, and concern with their physical attractiveness and body shape now than they did even two decades ago … we might expect that subgroups of men that place relatively greater emphasis on physical appearance would be at greater risk or excessive weight control behaviours and even eating disorders.

An illustrative group is the gay male subculture, which places an elevated importance on all aspects of a man’s physical self – body build, grooming, dress, handsomeness (S. Kleinberg. Alienated Affections: Being Gay in America. New York: St. Martin’s, 1980; and R. Lakoff and R. Scherr. Face Value: The Politics of Beauty. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984). We predicted that gay men would be at a heightened risk of body dissatisfaction and for eating disorders. In a sample of heterosexual and homosexual college men, gay men expressed greater dissatisfaction with body build, waist, biceps, arms, and stomach. Gay men also indicated a greater discrepancy between their actual and ideal body shapes than did “straight” men and showed higher scores on measures of eating disregulation and food and weight preoccupation. If the increased focus on appearance continues for men in general, such concerns and eating disorders may begin to increase among all men. (My italics).

 

Conclusions

The body plays a central role in men’s self-esteem, and men are striving in growing numbers to achieve the male body image. This may have a profound impact on their psychological and physical health. We suspect that the causes and consequences of bodily concern reviewed here represent a growing cultural trend, attributable to increased emphasis on self-determination of health and the ambiguity of current male and female sex roles. (My italics).

.
Mishkind
, Marc, Rodin, Linda, Silberstein, Lisa and Striegel-Moore, Ruth. “The Embodiment of Masculinity: Cultural, Psychological and Behavioural Dimensions,” in Kimmel, M. (ed.,). Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1987, pp. 37-47.

 

 

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Text: “Historical Pressings” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research ‘Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male’, RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

November 2022

 

Hippolyte Bayard (French, 1801–1887) 'Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man' 1840

 

Hippolyte Bayard (French, 1801-1887)
Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man
1840
Direct Positive Print
Public domain

 

 

Since the demise of my old website, my PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male (RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001) has no longer been available online.

I have now republished the first of twelve chapters, “Historical Pressings”, so that it is available to read. More chapters will be added as I get time. I hope the text is of some interest. Other chapters include Bench Press which investigates the development of gym culture, its ‘masculinity’, ‘lifestyle’, and the images used to represent it.

Dr Marcus Bunyan November 2022

 

 

“Historical Pressings” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

Through plain language English (not academic speak) the text of this chapter examines the history of photographic images of the male body, including the male body as desired by gay men, and the portrayal in photography of the gay male body.

NB. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Bench Press and Re-Pressentation chapters for a fuller overview of the development of the muscular male body. This chapter also contains descriptions of sexual activity.

 

Keywords

male body image, gay beauty myth, history of photographs of the male body, development of bodybuilding, queer body, gay male body, gay male body and HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS, photographic images of the male body, male2male sex, ephebe, muscular mesomorph, muscular male body, photography, art, erotic art, physique photography, Kinsey Institute, One Institute, gay pornography magazines, Physique Pictorial, Tom of Finland, cult of muscularity.

 

Sections

  • Beginnings
  • Frederick Holland Day and Baron von Gloeden
  • The Development of Bodybuilding
  • WWI, Nature Worship, The Body and Propaganda
  • Surrealism and the Body: George Platt Lynes
  • 1930s Australian Body Architecture
  • Minor White
  • Physique Culture after WW2 (Tom of Finland, 1950s Australia, Later Physique Culture and gay pornography photographs)
  • Diane Arbus
  • Robert Mapplethorpe
  • Arthur Tress, Bill Henson and Bruce Weber
  • Herb Ritts, Queer Press, Queer body
  • And so it goes…

Word count 10,600

 

 

Historical Pressings

 

Beginnings

Since the invention of the camera people have taken photographs of the male body. The 1840 image by Hippolyte Bayard, Self-portrait as a drowned man (above) is a self-portrait by the photographer depicting his fake suicide, taken in protest at being ignored as one of the inventors of photography. It is interesting because it is one of the earliest known photographic images of the unclothed male body and also a reflection of his self, an act of self-reflexivity. It is not his actual body but a reflection on how he would like to be seen by himself and others. This undercurrent of being seen, of projecting an image of the male body, has gradually been sexualised over the history of photography. The body in a photograph has become a canvas, able to mask or reveal the sexuality, identity and desires of the body and its owner. The male body in photography has become an object of desire for both the male and female viewer. The body is on display, open to the viewers gaze, possibly a desiring gaze. In the latter half of the twentieth century it is the muscular male body in particular that has become eroticised as an object of a desiring male2male gaze. In consumer society the muscular male body now acts as a sexualised marketable asset, used by ourselves and others, by the media and by companies to sell product. How has this sexual image of the muscular male body developed?

Within the history of art there is a profundity of depictions of the nude female form upon which the desiring gaze of the male could linger. With the advent of photography images of the nude male body became an accessible space for men desiring to look upon the bodies of other men. The nude male images featured in the early history of photography are endearing in their supposed lack of artifice. The bodies are of a natural type: everyday, normal run of the mill bodies reveal themselves directly to the camera as can be seen in the anonymous c. 1843 French daguerreotype, “Male Nude Study”.1 Although posed and required to hold the stance for a long period of time in order to expose the mercury plate, the model in this daguerreotype assumes a quiet confidence and comfort in his own body, staring directly at the camera whilst revealing his manhood for all to see. This period sees the first true revealing of the male body since the Renaissance, and the beginning of the eroticising of the male body as a visual ‘spectacle’ in the modern era.

Artists with an inclination towards the beauty of naked men were drawn towards the new medium. The photograph opened up the male body to the desiring gaze of the male viewer. The photograph reflected both reality and deception: the reality that these bodies existed in the flesh and the deception that they could be ‘had’, that the viewer could possess the body by looking, by eroticising, and through purchasing the photograph. Friendship between men was generally accepted up until the 18th century but in Victorian times homosexuality was named and classified as a sexual orientation in the early 1870’s. According to Michel Foucault2 this ‘friendship’ only became a problem with the rise of the powers of the police and the judiciary, who saw it as a deviant act; of course photography, as an instrument of ‘truth’, could prove the criminal activities of homosexuals and lead to their prosecution. When homosexual acts did come to the attention of the police and the medical profession it led to great scandals such as the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for sodomy.

 

Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1904) 'Nude men wrestling, lock' (plate 345) 1884/1886

 

Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1904)
Nude men wrestling, lock (plate 345)
1884/1886
Public domain

Eadweard Muybridge. Animal locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements. 1872-1885 / published under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. Plates. The plates printed by the Photo-Gravure Company. Philadelphia, 1887

 

 

On reflection there seems to have been an explosion of images around the late 1880’s to early 1890’s onwards of what we can now call homoerotic imagery; to contemporary eyes the 1887 photographs of nude wrestlers by Eadweard Muybridge have a distinct air of homo-eroticism about them. To keep such images above moral condemnation and within the bounds of propriety men where photographed in poses that were used for scientific studies (as in the case of the Muybridge photographs), as studies for other artists, or in religious poses. They appealed to the classical Greek ideal of masculinity and therefore avoided the sanctions of a society that was, on the surface, deeply conservative. For a brief moment imagine being a homosexual man in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, gazing for the first time at men in close physical proximity, touching each other in the nude, pressing each others flesh when such behaviour was thought of as subversive and illegal – what erotic desires photographs of the male body must have caused to those that appreciated such delicious pleasures, seeing them for the first time!

 

Frederick Holland Day and Baron von Gloeden

Two of the most famous photographers of the late Victorian and early Edwardian era who used the male body significantly in their work were Frederick Holland Day in America and Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden in Europe. Frederick Holland Day’s photographs of the male body concentrated on mythological and religious subject matter. In these photographs he tried to reveal a transcendence of spirit through an aesthetic vision of androgynous physical perfection. He revelled in the sensuous hedonistic beauty of what he saw as the perfection of the youthful male body. In the 1904 photograph “St. Sebastian,” for example, the young male body is presented for our adoring gaze in the combined ecstasy and agony of suffering. In his mythological photographs Holland Day used the idealism of Ancient Greece as the basis for his directed and staged images. These are not the bodies of muscular men but of youthful boys (ephebes) in their adolescence; they seem to have an ambiguous sexuality. The models genitalia are rarely shown and when they are, the penis is usually hidden in dark shadow, imbuing the photographs with a sexual mystery. The images are suffused with an erotic beauty of the male body never seen before, a photographic reflection of a seductive utopian beauty seen through the desiring eye of a homosexual photographer.

 

Frederick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'Saint Sebastian' c. 1906

 

Frederick Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Saint Sebastian
c. 1906
Platinum print

See Frederick Holland Day. “Saint Sebastian.” Platinum print, c. 1906, in Woody, Jack and Crump, James. F. Holland Day: Suffering The Ideal. Santa Fe: Twin Palms Publishers, 1995, Plate 53. Courtesy: Library of Congress

 

 

In Europe Wilhelm von Gloeden’s photographs of young ephebes (males between boy and man) have a much more open and confronting sexual presence. Using heavily set Sicilian peasant youths with rough hands and feet von Gloeden turned some of these bodies into heroic images of Grecian legend, usually photographing his nude figures in their entirety. In undertaking research into von Gloedens’ photographs at The Kinsey Institute, I was quite surprised at how little von Gloeden used classical props such as togas and vases in his photographs, relying instead on just the form of the body with perhaps a ribbon in the hair. His photographs depict the penis and the male rump quite openly and he hints at possible erotic sexual encounters between models through their intimate gaze and physical contact.

The photographs were collected by some people for their chaste and idyllic nature but for others, such as homosexual men, there is a subtext of latent homo-eroticism present in the positioning and presentation of the youthful male body. The imagery of the penis and the male rump can be seen as totally innocent, but to homosexual men desire can be aroused by the depiction of such erogenous zones within these photographs.

In both photographers work there is a reliance on the ‘natural’ body. In von Gloeden’s case it is the smooth peasant body with rough hands and feet; in Holland Day’s it is the smooth sinuous body of the adolescent. At the same time in both Europe and America, however, there began to emerge a new form for the body of a man, that of the muscular mesomorph, the V-shaped masculine ‘ideal’ expressed through the image of the bodybuilder, photographed in all his muscular splendour!

 

Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856-1931), Germany 'Two nude men standing in a forest' Taormina, Sicily, 1899

 

Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (German, 1856-1931)
Two nude men standing in a forest
Taormina, Sicily, 1899
Albumen print

 

 

The Development of Bodybuilding

Frederick Mueller, better known to the world as the Prussian bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, was launched on the public at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He was the world’s first true bodybuilder and he had a thick set muscular body with an outstanding back and abdominal muscles.

Bodybuilding came into existence as a result of the perceived effeminization of men brought on by the effects of the industrial revolution – boxing, gymnastics and weightlifting were undertaken to combat slothfulness, lack of exercise and unmanliness. This led to the formation of what Elliott Gorn in his book The Manly Art (Robson Books, 1986) has called ‘The Cult of Muscularity’,3 where the ‘ideal’ of the perfect masculine body can be linked to a concern for the position and power of men in an industrialised world. Sandow promoted himself not as the strongest man in the world but as the man with the most perfect physique, the first time this had ever happened in the history of the male body. He projected an ideal of physical perfection. He used photography of his muscular torso to promote himself and his products such as books, dumbbells and a brand of cocoa. He often performed and was photographed in the nude by leading photographers in Europe and America and was not at all bashful about exposing his naked body to the admiring gaze of both men and women.

His torso appeared on numerous cartes de visite, inspiring other young men to take up bodybuilding and gradually the muscular male body became an object of adulation for middle-class men and boys. The popularity of the image of his perfect body encouraged other men to purchase images of such muscular edifices and allowed them to desire to have a body like Sandow’s themselves. It also allowed homosexual men to eroticise the body of the male through their desiring gaze. But the ‘normal’ standards of heterosexual masculinity had to be defended. A desiring male gaze (men looking at the bodies of other men) could not be allowed to be homosexual; homosexuals were portrayed by the popular press and society as effete and feminine in order to deny the fact that a ‘real’ man could desire other men.4 (See the Femi-nancy Press chapter for more details on how homosexuals were portrayed as feminine). A man had to be a ‘real’ man otherwise he could be queer, an arse bandit!

 

Napoleon Sarony (French, 1821-1896) 'Eugen Sandow' 1893

 

Napoleon Sarony (French, 1821-1896)
Eugen Sandow
1893
Photographic print on cabinet card
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

 

 

Still, photographs of Greco-Roman wrestling continued to offer the opportunity for homosexual men to look upon the muscular bodies of other men in close physical proximity and intimacy. A classical wrestling style and classical props legitimised the subject matter. In static poses, which most photographs were at this time because of the length of the exposure, the genitalia were usually covered with a discreetly placed fig leaf or loin cloth, or the fig leaf / posing pouch were added later by retouching the photograph (as can be seen in the anonymous undated image of two wrestlers, “Otto Arco and Adrian Deraiz”).5 People such as Bernard MacFadden, publisher of Physical Culture, said these images were not at all erotic when viewed by other men. I think I would have found these images very horny (if a little illicit), if I had been a poof back in those days.

The physique of the muscular body had appeal across all class boundaries and bodybuilding was one of the first social activities that could be undertaken by any man no matter what his social position. Bodybuilding reinforced the power of traditional heterosexual behaviour – to be the breadwinner and provider for women, men had to see themselves as strong, tough and masculine. A fit, strong body is a productive body able to do more work through its shear physical bulk and endurance. Unlike the anonymous bodies in the photographs of Holland Day and von Gloeden here the bodies are named as individuals, men proud of their masculine bodies. It is the photographers that are anonymous, as though they are of little consequence in comparison to the flesh that is placed before their lenses.

I suggest that the impression the muscular body made on individual men was also linked to developments in other areas (art, construction and architecture for example), which were themselves influenced by industrialisation and its affect on social structure. In her book Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies (Routledge, 1995), Elizabeth Grosz says that the city is an important element in the social production of sexually active bodies. As the cities became further industrialised and the population of cities increased in the Victorian era, space to build new buildings was at a premium. The 1890s saw the building of the first skyscrapers in America, impressive pieces of engineering that towered above the city skyline. Their object was to get more internal volume and external surface area into the same amount of space so that the building held more and was more visible to the human eye. I believe this construction has parallels in the similar development of the muscular male body, a facade with more surface area than other men’s bodies, which makes that man more visible, admired and (secretly) desired.

Further, in art the Futurists believed in the ultimate power of the machine and portrayed both the machine and the body in a blur of speed and motion. In the Age of the Machine the construction of the body became industrialised, the body becoming armoured against the outside world and the difficulty of living in it. The body became a machine, indestructible, superhuman. Within this demanding world men sought to confirm their dominance over women (especially after women achieved the ability to vote), and other men. Domination was affirmed partially through images of the muscular male (as can be seen in the image Charles Atlas and Tony Sansone in “The Slave” below), although viewed through contemporary eyes a definite homo-erotic element is also present.

Charles Atlas and Tony Sansone in “The Slave” also presents us with a man who challenged the fame of Eugen Sandow. His name was Tony Sansone and he emerged as the new hero of bodybuilding around the year 1925. Graced with a perfect physique for a taller man, Sansone was more lithe than the stocky, muscular Sandow and can be seen to represent a classical heroic Grecian body, perfect in it’s form. He had Valentino like features, perfect bone structure and was very photogenic, always a useful asset when selling a book of photographs of yourself.

 

Grace Salon of Art. 'Charles Atlas and Tony Sansone in "The Slave"' 1930s

 

Grace Salon of Art
Charles Atlas and Tony Sansone in “The Slave”
1930s

 

Edwin F. Townsend (American, 1877-1948) 'Portrait of Tony Sansone' Nd

 

Edwin F. Townsend (American, 1877-1948)
Portrait of Tony Sansone
Nd (1930s)

 

 

WWI, Nature Worship, The Body and Propaganda

The First World War caused a huge amount of devastation to the morale and confidence of the male population of Europe and America. Millions of young men were slaughtered on the killing fields of Flanders and Galipolli as the reality of trench warfare set in. Here it did not matter what kind of body a man had – every body was fodder for the machine guns that constantly ranged the lines of advancing men during an assault. A bullet or nerve gas kills a strong, muscular body just as well as a thin, natural body. The war created anxieties and conflicts in men and undermined their confidence and ability to cope in the world after peace came. During the war images of men were used to reinforce the patriotic message of fighting for your country. After the war the Surrealist and German Expressionist movements made use of photography of the body to depict the dreams, deprivations and abuse that men were suffering as a result of it. In opposition to this avant-garde art and to reinforce the message of the strong, omnipotent male – images of muscular bodies were again used to shore up traditional ‘masculine’ values. They were used to advertise sporting events such as boxing and wrestling matches and sporting heroes appeared on cigarette cards emphasising skills and achievements. These images and events ensured that masculinity was kept at the forefront of human endeavour and social cognisance.

After the devastation of The First World War, the 1920’s saw the development in Germany, America and England of the cult of ‘nature worship’ – a love of the outdoors, the sun and the naturalness of the body that would eventually lead to the formation of the nudist movement. This movement was exploited by governments and integrated into the training regimes of their armies in the search for a fitter more professional soldier. But the nudity aspect was frowned upon because of its homo-erotic overtones: Hitler banned all naturist clubs in Germany in 1933 and the obvious eroticism of training in the nude would not have been overlooked. Physical training had been introduced into the armies and navies of the Western world at the end of the 19th century and as the new century progressed physical fitness was seen as an integral part of the discipline and efficiency of such bodies. As fascist states started to emerge during the latter half of the 1920’s and the beginning of the 1930’s they started making use of the muscular male body as a symbol of physical perfection.

The idealised muscularity of the body was used by the state to encourage its aims. The use of classical images of muscular bodies reflected a nostalgia for the past and an appeal to nationalism. Heroic statues were recreated in stadiums in Italy and Germany, symbols that represented the power, strength and virility of the state and its leaders. In a totalitarian regime the body becomes the property of the state, and is used as a tool in collusion with the state’s moral and political agendas. Propaganda became a major tool of the state. During the decade leading up to the Second World War and during the war itself images of the body were used to help support the policies of the government, to encourage enlistment and bolster the morale of soldiers and public. Such images appealed to the patriotic nature of the population but could still include suspicions of homo-erotic activity, such as in the (probably Russian) poster from 1935 (below).

 

Anonymous photographer. 'The Ball Throwers' c. 1925

 

Anonymous photographer
The Ball Throwers
c. 1925
Army Training
Germany

 

“The training methods of Major Hans Suren, Chief of the German Army School of Physical Exercise in the 1920’s, involved training naked – pursuing ideals of physical perfection which were later promoted by Hitler as a sign of Aryan racial superiority.”

Anonymous photographer. “The Ball Throwers.” Army Training. Germany. c. 1925, in Dutton, Kenneth. The Perfectible Body. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 208

 

Unknown photographer. Josef Thorak "Comradeship" 1937

 

Unknown photographer
Josef Thorak “Comradeship”
1937
German Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale

 

“Comradeship”, at the entrance to the German pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition 1937, by Josef Thorak, who was one of two “official sculptors” of the 3rd Reich. Nazi era statues were often strangely homoerotic.6

Here comradeship should not be confused with friendship which was discussed at the beginning of this chapter.

 

Anonymous artist. 'Propaganda poster' 1935

 

Anonymous artist
Propaganda poster
1935

 

 

Surrealism and the Body: George Platt Lynes

In contrast to the fascistic depictions of the male body used for propaganda, Surrealism (formed in the 1920s) was adapted by several influential gay photographers in the 1930s to express their own artistic interest in the male body. Although Surrealism was heavily anti-feminine and anti-homosexual, these gay male photographers, the Germans Herbert List, Horst P. Horst, and George Hoyningen-Huene and the American George Platt Lynes, made extensive use of the liberation of fantasies that Surrealism offered. Although the open depiction of homosexuality was still not possible in the 1930s there is an intuitive awareness on the part of the photographers and the viewer of the presence of sexual rituals and interactions. There is also the knowledge that there is a ready audience for these photographs, not only in the close circle of friends that surrounded the photographers, but also from gay men that instinctively recognise the homo-erotic quality of these images when shown them. The bodies in the images of the above photographers tend to be of two distinct types, the ephebe and the muscular mesomorphic body.

 

George Platt Lynes. 'A Forgotten Model' c. 1937

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
A Forgotten Model
c. 1937
Gelatin silver print

 

George Platt Lynes. 'The Sleepwalker' 1935

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
The Sleepwalker
1935
Gelatin silver print

 

George Platt Lynes (1907-1955) 'Names Withheld' 1952

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Names Withheld
1952
Gelatin silver print

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975) 'Armor II' 1934

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975)
Armor II
1934
Gelatin silver print
15 7/10 × 11 4/5 in (40 × 30cm)

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975) 'Young men on Naxos' 1937

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975)
Young men on Naxos
1937
Gelatin silver print

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955) 'Untitled' 1936

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled
1936
Gelatin silver print

 

 

In America George Platt Lynes was working as a fashion photographer. George Platt Lynes had his own studio in New York where he photographed dancers, artists and celebrities amongst others. He undertook a series of mythological photographs on classical themes (which are amazing for their composition which features Surrealist motifs). Privately he photographed male nudes but was reluctant to show them in public for fear of the harm that they could do to his reputation and business with the fashion magazines. Generally his earlier nude photographs concentrate on the idealised youthful body or ‘ephebe’. The 1936 photograph “Untitled” (above) is an exception. Here we gaze upon a smooth, defined muscular torso, the man (too old to be an ephebe) both in agony and ecstasy, his head thrown back, his eyes covered by one of his arms. Sightless he does not see the ‘other’ male hand that encloses his genitals, hiding them but also possibly about to molest them / release them at the same time. (NB. See my research notes on George Platt Lynes photographs in the Collection at the Kinsey Institute).

We can relate this photograph to Fred Holland Day’s photograph of “St. Sebastian” discussed earlier, this image stripped bare of most of the religious iconography of the previous image. The body is displayed for our adoration in all its muscularity, the lighting picking up the definition of diaphragm, ribs and chest, the hand hiding and perhaps, in the future, offering release to a suppressed sexuality. Here an-‘other’ hand is much closer to the origin of male2male sexual desire. Looking at this photograph you can visualise a sexual fantasy, so I imagine that it would have had the same effect on homosexual men when they looked at it in the 1930s.

In the slightly later nude photographs by George Platt Lynes the latent homo-eroticism evident in his earlier work becomes even more apparent.

In his image from 1942 “Untitled” we observe three young men in bare surroundings, likely to be Platt Lynes studio. The faces of the three men are not visible at all, evoking a sexual anonymity (According to David Leddick the models are Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley, and Bradbury Ball.7 The image comes from a series of 30 photographs of these three boys undressing and lying on a bed together; please see my notes on Image 483 and others from this series in the Collection at The Kinsey Institute).

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Untitled [Charles 'Tex' Smutney, Charles 'Buddy' Stanley, and Bradbury Ball]' c. 1942

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled [Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley, and Bradbury Ball]
c. 1942
Gelatin silver print

 

 

On a chair sits a pile of discarded clothes and in the background a man is removing the clothing of another man. The bulge of the man’s penis is quite visible through the material of the underpants. On the bed lies another man, face down, passive, unresisting, head turned away from us, the curve of his arse signalling a site of erotic activity for a gay man. Our gaze is directed to the arse of the man lying on the bed as a site of sexual desire and although nothing is actually happening in the photograph, there is a sexual ‘frisson’ in its composition.

As Lynes became more despondent with his career as a fashion photographer his private photographs of male nudes tended to take on a darker and sharper edge. After a period of residence in Hollywood he returned to New York nearly penniless. His style of photographing the male nude underwent a revision. While the photographs of his European colleagues still relied on the sun drenched bodies of young adolescent males evoking memories of classical beauty and the mythology of Ancient Greece the later nudes of Platt Lynes feature a mixture of youthful ephebes and heavier set bodies which appear to be more sexually knowing. The compositional style of dramatically lit photographs of muscular torsos of older men shot in close up (see the undated image “Untitled,” Frontal Male Nude, for example; see also my notes on this image, Image 144, in the Collection at The Kinsey Institute), were possibly influenced by a number of things – his time in Hollywood with its images of handsome, swash-buckling movie stars with broad chests and magnificent physiques; the images of bodybuilders by physique photographers that George Platt Lynes visited; the fact that his lover George Tichenor had been killed during WWII; and the knowledge that he was penniless and had cancer. There is, I think, a certain perhaps not desperation but sadness and strength in much of his later photographs of the male nude that harnesses the inherent sexual power embedded within their subject matter.

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Untitled (Frontal Male Nude)' nd

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled [Frontal Male Nude]
Nd
Gelatin silver print

Platt Lynes, George. “Untitled,” Nd in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 103.
Courtesy: Estate of George Platt Lynes.

 

“The depth and commitment he had in photographing the male nude, from the start of his career to the end, was astonishing. There was absolutely no commercial impulse involved – he couldn’t exhibit it, he couldn’t publish it.”

Allen Ellenzweig. Introduction to George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes. Rizzoli, 2011.

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Untitled' 1953

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled
Date unknown (early 1950s)
Gelatin silver print

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Untitled' 1953

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled
1953
Gelatin silver print

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Ted Starkowski (standing, arms behind back)' c. 1950

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Ted Starkowski (standing, arms behind back)
c. 1950
Gelatin silver print from a paper negative

 

 

The monumentality of body and form was matched by a new openness in the representation of sexuality. There are intimate photographs of men in what seem to be post-coital revere, in unmade beds, genitalia showing or face down showing their butts off (See my description of Untitled Nude, 1946, in the Collection at The Kinsey Institute). Some of the faces in these later photographs remain hidden, as though disclosure of identity would be detrimental for fear of persecution. The “Untitled,” Frontal Male Nude photograph (above) is very ‘in your face’ for the conservative time from which it emerges, remembering it was the era of witch hunts against communists and subversives (including homosexuals).

This photograph is quite restrained compared to one of the most striking series of GPL’s photographs that I saw at The Kinsey Institute which involves an exploration the male anal area. A photograph from the 1951 series can be found in the book titled George Platt Lynes: Photographs from The Kinsey Institute.8 This image is far less explicit than other images of the same model from the same series that I saw during my research into GPL’s photographs at The Kinsey Institute,9 in particular one which depicts the model with his buttocks in the air pulling his arse cheeks apart (See my description of Images 186-194 in the Collection at The Kinsey Institute). After Lynes found out he had cancer he started to send his photographs to the German homoerotic magazine Der Kries under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf,10 and in the last years of his life he experimented with paper negatives, which made his images of the male body even more grainy and mysterious (See the photograph Ted Starkowski (1950, above), and see my notes on Male Nude 1951, in the Collection at The Kinsey Institute).

Personally I believe that Lynes understood, intimately, the different physical body types that gay men find desirable and used them in his photographs. He visited Lon of New York (a photographer of beefcake men) in his studio and purchased photographs of bodybuilders for himself, as did the German photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, another artist who was gay. It is likely that these images of bodybuilders did influence his later compositional style of images of men; it is also possible that he detected the emergence of this iconic male body type as a potent sexual symbol, one that that was becoming more visible and sexually available to gay men.

 

Max Dupain. 'Sunbaker' 1937

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Sunbaker
1937
Gelatin silver print

 

 

1930s Australian Body Architecture

Around the time that George Platt Lynes was photographing his earlier male nudes Max Dupain took what is seen to be an archetypal photograph of the Australian way of life. Called Sunbaker (1937, above), the photograph expresses the bronzed form of man lying prone on the ground, the man pressing his flesh into the warm sand as the sun beats down on a hot summers day. His hand touches the earth and his head rests, egg-like, on his arm. His shoulders remind me of the outline of Uluru (or Ayres Rock) in the centre of Australia, sculptural, almost cathedral like in their geometry and outline, soaring into the sky. Here the male body is a massive edifice, towering above the eye line, his body wet from the sea expressing the essence of Australian beach culture. In this photograph can be seen evidence of an Australian tradition of photographing hunky lifesavers and surfies to the delight of a gay audience which reached a peak in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, although I’m not sure that Max Dupain would have realised the homoerotic overtones of the photograph at the time.

 

Minor White

Another photographer haunted by his sexuality was the American Minor White. Disturbed by having been in battle in the Second World War and seeing some of his best male friends killed, White’s early photographs of men (in their uniforms) depict the suffering and anguish that the mental and physical stress of war can cause. He was even more upset than most because he was battling his own inner sexual demons at the same time, his shame and disgust at being a homosexual and attracted to men, a difficulty compounded by his religious upbringing. In his photographs White both denied his attraction to men and expressed it. His photographs of the male body are suffused with both sexual mystery and a celebration of his sexuality despite his bouts of guilt. After the war he started to use the normal everyday bodies of his friends to form sequences of photographs, sometimes using the body as a metaphor for the landscape and vice versa. Based on a religious theme the 1948 photograph Tom Murphy (San Francisco) (1948, below) from The Temptation of Saint Anthony is Mirrors, 1948, presents us with a dismembered hairy body front on, the hands clutching and caressing the body at the same time, the lower hand hovering near the exposed genitalia. As in the photographs of Platt Lynes we see the agony and ecstasy of a homo-erotic desire wrapped up in a religious or mythological theme.

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976) 'Tom Murphy (San Francisco)' 1948

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Tom Murphy (San Francisco)
1948
From The Temptation of Saint Anthony is Mirrors 1948
Gelatin silver print

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Nude Foot, San Francisco' 1947

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Nude Foot, San Francisco
1947
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Other images (such as Nude Foot 1947, above) seem to have an aura of desire, mysticism, vulnerability and inner spirituality. White photographed when he was in a state of meditation, hoping for a “revelation,” a revealing of spirit in the subsequent negative and finally print. Perhaps this is why the young men in his photographs always seem vulnerable, alone, available, and have an air of mystery – they reflect his inner state of mind, and consequently express feelings about his own sexuality. In reading through my research notes on his photographs at The Minor White Archive, I notice that I found them a very intense, rich and rewarding experience. It was amazing to find Minor White photographs of erect penises dating from the 1940s amongst the archive but even more amazing was the presence that these photographs had for me. The other overriding feeling was one of perhaps loneliness, sadness, anguish(?), for the bodies seemed to be just observed and not partaken of. As with Platt Lynes photographs of men, very few of Minor White’s male portraits were ever exhibited in his lifetime because of his fear of being exposed as a homosexual.

 

Physique Culture after WW2

At the same time that Minor White was exploring anxieties surrounding his sexuality and his war experiences, many other American men were returning home from WWII to America to find that they had to reaffirm the traditional place of the male as the breadwinner within the family unit. Masculinity and a muscular body image was critical in this reaffirmation. Powerful in build and strong in image it was used to counter the threat of newly independent females, females who had taken over the jobs of men while they were away at war. Conversely, many gay men returned home to America after the war knowing that they were not as alone as they had previously thought, having socialised, associated, fought and had sex with others of their kind. There were other gay men out there in the world and the beginnings of contemporary gay society started to be formed. A desire by some gay men for the masculine body image found expression in the publications of body-building books and magazines that continued to be produced within the boundaries of social acceptability after the Second World War.

Photographers such as Russ Warner, Al Urban, Lon of New York (who began their careers in the late 1930’s), Bob Mizer (started Physique Pictorial in 1945), Charles Renslow (started Kris studio in 1954), and Bruce of Los Angeles, sought out models on both sides of the Atlantic (See my notes on the images of some of these photographers held in the Collection at the Kinsey Institute). Models appeared in posing pouches or the negatives were again airbrushed to hide offending genitalia. Some unpublished images from 1942-1950 by Bruce of Los Angeles show an older man sucking off a stiff younger man (See my notes on Images No. 52001-52004 from the link above) but this is the rare exception rather than the rule.

 

Bob Mizer/Athletic Model Guild. 'Irwin Kosewski and Jerry Ross' Nd

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992) / Athletic Model Guild
Irwin Kosewski and Jerry Ross
Nd

Mizer, Bob/Athletic Model Guild. “Irwin Kosewski and Jerry Ross,” Nd, in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography. Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. 19.

 

Joe Corey. 'Bill Henry and Bob Baker' Nd

 

Joe Corey
Bill Henry and Bob Baker
Nd

Corey, Joe. “Bill Henry and Bob Baker,” Nd, in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography. Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. 27.

 

 

Appealing to a closeted homosexual clientele the published images seem, on reflection, to have had a more open, homo-erotic quality to them than earlier physique photographs. This can be observed in the two undated images, “Irwin Kosewski and Jerry Ross,” by Bob Mizer / Athletic Model Guild and “Bill Henry and Bob Baker,” by Joe Carey. The first image carries on the tradition of the Sansone image “The Slave,” but further develops the sado-masochistic overtones; such wrestling photographs became popular just because the models were shown touching each other, which could provide sexual arousal for gay men looking at the photographs.

Some photographs were taken out of doors instead of always in the studio, possibly an expression of a more open attitude to ways of depicting the nude male body. The bodies in the ‘beefcake’ magazines of the 1950’s tend to be bigger than that of the ephebe, even when the models were quite young in some cases. As the name ‘beefcake’ implies, the muscular mesomorphic shape was the attraction of these bodies – perfectly proportioned Adonis’s with bulging pectorals, large biceps, hard as rock abdomens and small waists. The 1950’s saw the beginning of the fixation of gay men with the muscular mesomorph as the ultimate ideal image of a male body. The lithe bodies of young dancers and swimmers now gives way to muscle – a built body, large in its construction, solid and dependable, sculpted like a piece of rock. These bodies are usually smooth and it is difficult to find a hirsute body11 in any of the photographs from the physique magazines of this time. According to Alan Berube in his book, Coming Out Under Fire,

“The post-war growth and commercialization of gay male erotica in the form of mail-order 8 mm films, photographic stills, and physique magazines were developed in part by veterans and drew heavily on World War II uniforms and iconography for erotic imagery.”12

.
Looking through images from the 1940s in the collection at The Kinsey Institute, I did find that uniforms were used as a fetish in some of the explicitly erotic photographs as a form of sexual iconography. These photographs of male2male sex were for private consumption only. I found little evidence of the use of uniforms as sexual iconography in the published photographs of the physique magazines. Here image composition mainly featured classical themes, beach scenes, outdoor and studio settings.

 

Touko Valio Laaksonen (Tom of Finland) (Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1973

 

Touko Valio Laaksonen (Tom of Finland) (Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1973

 

'Physique Pictorial' Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 1957

 

Physique Pictorial Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 1957. Tom of Finland, Touko Laaksonen (cover)

This issue features the debut American appearance of “Tom, a Finnish artist,” a.k.a. Tom of Finland who produced both the cover illustration of loggers and an interior companion shot.

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992) / Athletic Model Guild. Cover of 'Physique Pictorial' Vol. 14, No. 2, 1964

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992) / Athletic Model Guild
Cover of Physique Pictorial Vol. 14, No. 2, 1964
32 pages, black and white illustrations
Illustrated saddle-stapled self-wrappers
21cm x 13cm

 

 

Tom of Finland

Although not a photographer one gay artist who was heavily influenced by the uniforms and muscularity of soldiers he lusted after and had sex with during the war was Touko Laaksonen, known as ‘Tom of Finland’. His images featured hunky, leather clad bikers, sailors, and rough trade ploughing their enlarged, engorged penises up the rears of chunky men in graphic scenes of male2male sex. His images portrayed gay men as the hard-bodied epitome of masculinity, contrary to the nancy boy image of the limp wristed poof that was the stereotype in the hetero / homosexual community up until the 1960s and even later. His early images were again only for private consumption. His first success was a (non-sexual) drawing of a well built male body that he sent to America. It appeared on the cover of the spring 1957 issue of Physique Pictorial (above). Here we see a link between the drawings of Tom of Finland and the construction of a body engineered towards selling to a homosexual market, the male body as marketable commodity. His drawings of muscular men were influenced by the bodies in the beefcake magazines and the bodies of the soldiers he desired. Tom of Finland, in an exaggerated way, portrayed the desirability of this type of body for gay men by emphasising that, for him, gay sex and gay bodies are ultimately ‘masculine’.

 

1950s Australia

Very little of this iconography of the muscular male was available to gay men in Australia throughout the 1950’s. The few publications that became available were likely to have come from America or the United Kingdom. Instead heterosexual photographers such as Max Dupain took images of Australian beach culture such as the 1952 image At Newport, Australia, 1952 (below). Dupain took a series of photographs of this beautiful young man, ‘the lad’ as he calls him,13 climbing out of the pool. Elegant in its structural form ‘the lad’ is oblivious to the camera’s and our gaze. Although the body is toned and tanned this body image is a much more ‘natural’ representation of the male body than the photographs in the physique magazines, with all their posing and preening for the camera.

 

Max Dupain. 'At Newport Baths' 1952

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
At Newport, Australia, 1952
1952
Gelatin silver print

Dupain, Max. “At Newport, Australia, 1952.” 1952, in Bilson, Amanda (ed.,). Max Dupain’s Australia. Ringwood: Viking, 1986, p. 157.

 

John Graham. 'Clive Norman' Nd

 

John Graham
Clive Norman
Nd

Graham, John. “Clive Norman,” Nd in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. 38.

 

John Graham. 'Detail from Parthenon Frieze'. Elgin Marble Friezes, British Museum Nd and Lon of New York in London. 'Jim Stevens' Nd

 

John Graham
Detail from Parthenon Frieze
Elgin Marble Friezes, British Museum
Nd

Lon of New York in London
Jim Stevens
Nd

Graham, John. “Detail from Parthenon Frieze.” Elgin Marble Friezes, British Museum, Nd in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography. Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. vi.

Lon of New York in London. “Jim Stevens,” Nd in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography. Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. 13.

 

 

Later Physique Culture and gay pornography photographs

Images of the body in the physique magazines of the 1940s-1960s are invariably smooth, muscular and defined. A perfect example of the type can be seen in the undated image Clive Norman by John Graham (above). The images rely heavily on the iconography of classical Rome and Greece to legitimise their homo-erotic overtones. Use was made of columns, drapery, and sets that presented the male body as the contemporary equivalent of idealised male beauty of ancient times.

As the 1950s turned into the 1960s other stereotypes became available to the photographers – for example the imagery of the marine, the sailor, the biker, the boy on a tropical island, the wrestler, the boxer, the mechanic. The photographs become more raunchy in their depiction of male nudity. In the 1950s, however, classical aspirations were never far from the photographers minds when composing the images as can be seen in the undated photograph Jim Stevens by Lon of New York in London (above) taken from a book called ‘Art in Physique Photography’.14 This book, illustrated with drawings of classical warrior figures by David Angelo, is subtitled: ‘An Album of the world’s finest photographs of the male physique’.

Here we observe a link between art and the body. This connection was used to confirm the social acceptability of physique photographs of the male body while still leaving them open to other alternative readings. One alternative reading was made by gay men who could buy these socially acceptable physique magazines to gaze with desire upon the naked form of the male body. It is interesting to note that with the advent of the first openly gay pornography magazines after the ruling on obscenity by the Supreme Court in America in the late 1960s (See my research notes on this subject from The One Institute),15 classical figures were still used to justify the desiring gaze of the camera and viewer upon the bodies of men. Another reason used by early gay pornography magazines to justify photographs of men having sex together was that the images were only for educational purposes!

Even in the mid 1970s companies such as Colt Studios, which has built a reputation for photographing hunky, very well built masculine men, used classical themes in their photography of muscular young men. Most of the early Colt magazines have photographs of naked young men that are accompanied by photographs and illustrations based on classical themes as can be seen in the image below. In their early magazines quite a proportion of the bodies were hirsute or had moustaches as was popular with the clone image at the time. Later models of the early 1980s tend towards the buff, tanned, stereotypical muscular mesomorph in even greater numbers. Sometimes sexual acts are portrayed in Colt magazines but mainly they are not. It is the “look” of the body and the face that the viewers desiring gaze is directed towards – not the sexual act itself. As the Colt magazine says,

“Our aim in Olympus is to wed the classic elegance of ancient Greece and Rome to the contemporary look of the ’70s. With some models that takes some doing: they may have one or two exceptional features, but the overall picture doesn’t make it … Erron, our current subject, comes closer to the ideal – in his own way … Erron stands 5’10”. He is 22 years old and is the spirit of the free-wheeling, unhampered single stud … And to many the morning after, he is ‘the man that got away’.”16

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Erron' 1973

 

Anonymous photographer
Erron
Olympus from Colt Studios Vol. 1. No 2.
1973

 

 

Erron does attempt to come closer to the ‘ideal’ but not, I think, in his own way for it is an ‘ideal’ based on a stereotypical masculine image from a past culture. Is he doing his own thing or someone else’s thing, based on an image already prescribed from the past?

As social morals relaxed in the age of ‘free love’, physique photographers such as Bob Mizer from Athletic Model Guild produced more openly homo-erotic images. In his work from the 1970s full erections are not prevalent but semi-erect penises do feature, as do revealing “moon” shots from the rear focusing on the arsehole as a site for male libidinal desires. A less closeted, more open expression of homosexual desire can be seen in the photographs of the male body in the 1970s.17 What can also be seen in the images of gay pornography magazines from the mid 1970s onwards is the continued development of the dominant stereotypical ‘ideal’ body image that is present in contemporary gay male society – that of the smooth, white, tanned, muscular mesomorphic body image.

 

Diane Arbus (1923-71) 'Muscle Man in his dressing room with trophy, Brooklyn, N.Y.' 1962

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Muscle Man in his dressing room with trophy, Brooklyn, N.Y.
1962
Gelatin silver print

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971) 'Seated man in a bra and stockings, N.Y.C., 1967' 1967

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Seated man in a bra and stockings, N.Y.C., 1967
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Diane Arbus

In the 1960s and 1970s other photographers were also interested in alternative representations of the male body, notably Diane Arbus. Arbus was renowned for ‘in your face’ photographs of the supposed oddities and freaks of society. She photographed body-builders with their trophies, dwarfs, giants, and all sorts of interesting people she found fascinating because of their sexual orientation, hobbies and fetishes. She photographed gay men, lesbians and transsexuals in their homes and hangouts.

I think the image Seated man in a bra and stockings, N.Y.C., 1967 (above), reveals a different side of masculinity, not conforming to the stereotypical depiction of ‘masculinity’ proposed by the form of the muscular body. Yes, the subject is wary of the camera, hand gripping the chair arm, legs crossed in a protective manner. But I think that the important significance of this photograph lies in the fact that the subject allowed himself to be photographed at all, with his face visible, prepared to reveal this portion of his life to the probing of Arbus’ lens. In the closeted and conservative era of the 1960s (remember this is before Gay Liberation), to allow himself to be photographed in this way would have taken an act of courage, because of the fear of discrimination and persecution including the possible loss of job, home, friends, family and even life if this photograph ever came to the attention of employers, landlords and bigots.

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Charles and Jim' 1974

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Charles and Jim' 1974

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Charles and Jim
1974
Gelatin silver prints

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Charles and Jim, 1974, in Holborn, Mark and Levas, Dimitri. Mapplethorpe Altars. London: Jonathan Cape, 1995, pp. 26-27.

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'White Sheet' 1974 (detail)

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
White Sheet (detail)
1974
Gelatin silver print

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Detail of White Sheet, 1974, in Holborn, Mark and Levas, Dimitri. Mapplethorpe Altars. London: Jonathan Cape, 1995, p. 74.

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe. The name of one of the most controversial photographers of the 20th century. Well known to gay men around the world for his ground breaking depiction of sexuality and the body through his photographs of black men and the sadomasochistic acts within the leather scene in gay community. The exhibiting of his images was only possible after the liberation of sexualities brought about by Stonewall and the start of the fight for Gay Liberation in 1969. Early images, such as three from the sequence of photographs Charles and Jim (1974, above) feature ‘natural’ bodies – hairy, scrawny, thin – in close physical proximity with each other, engaged in gay sex, sucking each others dicks in other photographs from this sequence. There is a tenderness and affection to the whole sequence, as the couple undress, suck, kiss and embrace. Compare the photographs with the photograph by Minor White of Tom Murphy (San Francisco) (1948, above) Gone is the religious agony, loneliness and isolation of a man (the photographer), who fears an open expression of his sexuality, replaced by the gaze and touch of a man comfortable with his sexuality and the object of his desire.

Although Mapplethorpe used the bodies of his friends and himself in the early photographs he was still drawn to images of muscular men that had a definite homoerotic quality to them, as can be seen in the detail of the 1974 work White Sheet. Blatant in its hard muscularity the boys stare at each other, flexing their muscles, one arm around the back of the others neck. This attraction to the perfect muscular body became more obvious in the later work of Mapplethorpe, especially in his depiction of black men and their hard, graphic bodies. Mapplethorpe even used to coat his black models in graphite so that the skin took on a grey lustre, adding to the feeling that the skin was made of marble and was impenetrable. Mapplethorpe’s photographs of black men come from a lineage that can be traced back through Frederick Holland Day (see below) to Herbert List and George Platt Lynes who all photographed black men. In the 1979 image of Bob Love (below), Mapplethorpe worships the body and the penis of Bob Love, placing him on a pedestal reminiscent of those used in the physique magazines of an earlier era.

 

F. Holland Day. 'Ebony and Ivory' 1899

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Ebony and Ivory
1899

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Bob Love' 1979

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Bob Love
1979
Gelatin silver print

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Bob Love, 1979, in Holborn, Mark and Levas, Dimitri. Mapplethorpe Altars. London: Jonathan Cape, 1995, p. 71.

 

 

Around the same time that Mapplethorpe was photographing the first of his black nudes he was also portraying acts of sexual pleasure in his photographs of the gay S/M scene. In these photographs the bodies are usually shielded from scrutiny by leather and rubber but are more revealing of the intentions and personalities of the people depicted in them, perhaps because Mapplethorpe was taking part in these activities himself as well as just depicting them. There is a sense of connection with the people and the situations that occur before his lens in the S/M photographs. In the photograph of Bob, however, Bob stares out at the viewer in a passive way, revealing nothing of his own personality, directed by the photographer, portrayed like a trophy. I believe this isolation, this objectivity becomes one of the undeniable criticisms of most of Mapplethorpe’s later photographs of the body – they reveal nothing but the clarity of perfect formalised beauty and aesthetic design, sometimes fragmented into surfaces. Mapplethorpe liked to view the body as though cut up into pieces, into different libidinal zones, much as in the reclaimed artefacts of classical sculpture. The viewer is seduced by the sensuous nature of the bodies surfaces, the body objectified for the viewers pleasure. The photographs reveal very little of the inner self of the person being photographed. This surface quality can also be seen in earlier work such as the 1976 photograph of bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger (1976, below).

 

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, c. 1480 - 1556/1557) 'Young Man Before a White Curtain' c. 1506/1508

 

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, c. 1480 – 1556/1557)
Young Man Before a White Curtain
c. 1506/1508
Oil on canvas

Lotto, Lorenzo. Young Man Before a White Curtain, Oil on Canvas. c. 1506/1508, in Schneider, Norbert. The Art of the Portrait. Koln: Benedikt Taschen, 1994, p. 66.

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' 1976

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Arnold Schwarzenegger
1976
Gelatin silver print

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1976, in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 139.

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971) 'A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C.' 1968

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C. 1968
1968
Gelatin silver print

Arbus, Diane. A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C. 1968, 1968, in An Aperture Monograph. Diane Arbus. New York: Millerton, 1972.

 

 

In the photograph Schwarzenegger is placed on bare floorboards with a heavy curtain pulled back to reveal a white wall. We can see connections to an oil painting by the Italian Lorenzo Lotto. According to Norbert Schneider in his book The Art of the Portrait the curtain motif is adapted from devotional painting and was used as a symbolic, majestical backdrop for saints.18 The curtain may be seen as a ‘velum’ to veil whatever was behind it, or by an act of ‘re-velatio’, or pulling aside of the curtain, reveal what is behind. In both the painting and the photograph very little is revealed about the person’s inner self, despite the fact that in Mapplethorpe’s photograph the curtain has been tied back. Schwarzenegger stands before a barren white wall, on bare floorboards. The photograph reveals nothing about his inner self or his state of mind; it is a barren landscape. Nothing is revealed about his personality or identity save that he is a bodybuilder with a body made up of large muscles that has been posed for the camera; his facial expression and look are blank much like the wall behind him. The body becomes a marketable product, the polished surface fetishised in its perfection.

Compare this photograph with the A naked man being a woman, N.Y.C. 1968, by Diane Arbus taken six years earlier (above). Again a figure stands before parted curtains in a room. Here we see an androgynous figure of a man being a woman surrounded by the physical evidence of his/her existence. The body is not muscular but of a ‘natural’ type, one leg slightly bent in quite a feminine gesture, a hand on the hip. Behind the figure is a bed, covered in a blanket. On the chair in front of the curtains and on the bed behind lies discarded clothing and the detritus of human existence. We can also see a suitcase behind the chair leg, an open beer or soft drink can on the floor and what looks like an electrical heater behind the figures legs. We are made aware we are looking at the persons place of living, of sleeping, of the bed where the person sleeps and possibly has sex. Framed by the open curtains the painted face with the plucked eyebrows stares back at us with a much more engaging openness, the body placed within the context of its lived surroundings, unlike the photograph of Schwarzenegger. Much is revealed about the psychological state of the owner and how he lives and what he likes to do. The black and white shading behind the curtains reveals the yin/yang dichotomy, the opposite and the same of his personality far better than the blank white wall that stands behind Mapplethorpe’s portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 

Arthur Tress (American, b. 1940) 'Superman Fantasy' 1977

 

Arthur Tress (American, b. 1940)
Superman Fantasy
1977
Gelatin silver print

Arthur Tress. Superman Fantasy, 1977, in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 143.

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955) 'Image No. 9 from an Untitled Sequence 1977' 1977

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Image No.9 from an Untitled Sequence 1977
1977
Gelatin silver print

Henson, Bill. Image No.9 from an Untitled sequence 1977, 1977, in Henson, Bill. Bill Henson: Photographs 1974-1984. (exhibition catalogue). Melbourne: Deutscher Fine Art, 1989.

 

 

Arthur Tress, Bill Henson and Bruce Weber

Arthur Tress was not a photographer that pandered to the emerging “lifestyle” cult of gay masculinity that was beginning to formulate towards the end of the 1970’s and the early 1980’s. Borrowing elements from both a ‘camp’ aesthetic and Surrealism, his images from this time parodied the inner identity of gay men, prodding and poking beneath the surface of both the gay male psyche and their fantasies. In the 1977 image Superman Fantasy (above), Tress conveys the desire of some gay men for the ‘ideal’ of the superhero, powerful, with muscular body and large penis. But the desiree has a ‘natural’ body and it is his penis that projects between the Superman’s thighs. Superman is only a fantasy, a cut out figure with no relief, and Tress pokes fun at gay men who desire heroic masculine body images to reinforce their own sense masculinity.

At the same time in Australia there emerged the work of the photographer Bill Henson. Again, he did not use stereotypical masculine body images. In an early 1977 sequence of his work (above), we see a young man who looks emaciated (almost like a living skeleton) at rest, a moment of stasis while apparently in the act of masturbating. Here Henson links the sexual act (although never seen in the photographs) with death. Visually Henson represents Georges Bataille’s idea that the ecstasy of an orgasm is like the oblivion of death. The body in sex uses power as part of its attraction and the ultimate expression of power is death; this sequence of photographs links the two ideas together visually. With the explicit medical link between sex and death because of the HIV/AIDS virus these photographs have a powerful resonance within a contemporary social context, the emaciated body now associated in people’s minds with a person dying from AIDS.

Other photographers, notably Bruce Weber, confirmed the constructed ‘ideal’ of the commodified masculine body. Body became product, became part of an overall purchased “lifestyle,” chic, beautiful and available if you have enough money. Working mainly as a fashion photographer with an aspiration to high art, Weber paraded a plethora of stunning white, buff, muscular males before his lens. Advertising companies, such as Calvin Klein swooped on this image of perfect male flesh and played with the ambiguous homo-erotic possibilities inherent within the images. Gay men fell for what they saw as the epitome of ‘masculinity’, a reflection of their own “straight-acting” masculinity. These photographs, with a genetic lineage dating from Sansone and the photographs of sportsmen by German photographer Leni Riefenstahl in the 1930’s, are almost utopian in their aesthetic idealisation of the body.

In his personal work, examples of which can be seen below, Bruce Weber maintains his interest in the perfection of the male form. These men are just All American Jocks, supposedly your everyday boy next door, possessing no sexuality other than a placid, flaccid non-threatening penis, no messy secretions or interactions being attached to the bodies at all. There is no hint of disease or dis-ease among these images or models, even though AIDS was emerging at this time as a major killer of gay men. Perhaps even the possibility of homo/sexuality/identity is denied in the perfection of their form placed, like the Mapplethorpe photograph of Schwarzenegger, against a non-descriptive background, a context-less body in a context-less photograph.

 

Bruce Weber (American, b. 1946) 'Dan Harvey, New York Jets Trainer' 1983

 

Bruce Weber (American, b. 1946)
Dan Harvey, New York Jets Trainer
1983
Gelatin silver print

Weber, Bruce. Dan Harvey, New York Jets Trainer, 1983, 1983, in Cheim, John. Bruce Weber. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1988.

 

Bruce Weber (American, b. 1946) 'Paul Wadina, Santa Barbara California' 1987

 

Bruce Weber (American, b. 1946)
Paul Wadina, Santa Barbara California
1987
Gelatin silver print

Weber, Bruce. Paul Wadina, Santa Barbara, California, 1987, 1987, in Cheim, John. Bruce Weber. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1988.

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Fred with Tires' 1984

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Fred with Tires
1984
Gelatin silver print
24 × 20 in (61 × 50.8cm)

Ritts, Herb. Fred with Tires, 1984, in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 195.

 

 

Herb Ritts, Queer Press, Queer body

Fred with Tires (1984, above) became possibly the archetypal photograph of the male body in the 1980’s and made the world-wide reputation of its commercial photographer, Herb Ritts. Gay men flocked to buy it, including myself. I was drawn by the powerful, perfectly sculpted body, the butchness of his job, the dirty trousers, the boots and the body placed within the social context. At the time I realised that the image of this man was a constructed fantasy, ie., not the ‘real’ thing, and this feeling of having been deceived has grown ever since. His hair is teased up and beautifully styled, the grease is applied to his body just so, his body twisted to just the right degree to accentuate the muscles of the stomach and around the pelvis. You can just imagine the stylist standing off camera ready to readjust the hair if necessary, the assistants with their reflectors playing more light onto the body. This/he is the seduction of a marketable homoeroticsm, the selling of an image as sex, almost camp in its overt appeal to gay archetypal stereotypes. Herb Ritts, whether in his commercial work or in his personal images such as those of the gay bodybuilders Bob Paris and Rod Jackson, has helped increase the acceptance of the openly homo-erotic photograph in a wider sphere but this has been possible only with an increased acceptance of homosexual visibility within the general population. Openly gay bodies such as that of Australian rugby league star Ian Roberts or American diver Greg Luganis can become heroes and role models to young gay men coming out of the closet for the first time, visible evidence that gay men are everywhere in every walk of life. This is great because young gay men do need gay role models to look up to but the bodies they possess only conform to the one type, that of the muscular mesomorph and this reinforces the ideal of a traditional virile masculinity. Yes, the guy in the shower next to you might be a poofter, might be queer for heavens sake, but my God, what a body he’s got!

Herb Ritts photographs are still based on the traditional physique magazine style of the 1950’s as can be seen from the examples below. He also borrows heavily from the work of George Platt Lynes and the idealised perfection of Mapplethorpe. The bodies he uses construct themselves (through going to the gym) as the ‘ideal’ of what men should look like. Seduced by the perfection of his bodies gay men have rushed to the gym since the early 1980’s in an attempt to emulate the ideal that Ritts proposes, to belong to the ‘in’ crowd, to have “the look”. (This idealisation continues to this day in 2022).

From different cultures around the world other artists who are gay have also succumbed to the heroic musculature that is the modern day epitome of the representation of gay masculinity. Although he denies any linkage to the work of ‘Tom of Finland’, Sadao Hasegawa portrays the body as a demigod using traditional Japanese and Western iconography to emphasise his themes of homosexual bondage and ritual (see below). The body in his Shunga (Japanese erotic) paintings and drawings, as in most art and images of the muscular male, becomes a phallus, the armoured body being a metaphor for the hidden power of the penis, signifying the power of mesomorphic men over women and ‘other’ not so well endowed men.

 

Bob Delmonteque (American) 'Glenn Bishop' 1950s

 

Bob Delmonteque (American)
Glenn Bishop
1950s
Gelatin silver print

Delmonteque, Bob. Glenn Bishop, 1950s, in Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography. Vol. 1. Man’s World Publishing Company. Chesham: The Carlton Press, Nd, p. 8.

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Male Nude with Bubble, Los Angeles' 1987

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Male Nude with Bubble, Los Angeles
1987
Gelatin silver print

Ritts, Herb. Male Nude with Bubble, Los Angeles, 1987, in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 194.

 

Sadao Hasegawa (Japanese, 1945-1999) 'Untitled' 1990

 

Sadao Hasegawa (Japanese, 1945-1999)
Untitled
1990

Hasegawa, Sadao. Untitled, 1990, in Blue Magazine. Sydney: Studio Magazines, April 1997, p. 50.

 

 

But there are still other artists who are gay who challenge the orthodoxy of such stereotypical images, using as their springboard the ‘sensibility’ of queer theory, a theory that critiques perspectives of social and cultural ‘normality’. With the explosion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the mid 1980’s, numerous artists started to address issues of the body: isolation, disease, death, beauty, gay sex, friendship between men, the inscription of the bodies surface, and the place of gay men in the world in a critical and valuable way. Ted Gott, commenting on Lex Middleton’s 1992 image Gay Beauty Myth (below) in the book Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS observes that the image,

“… reconsiders Bruce Weber’s luscious photography of the naked male body for Calvin Klein’s celebrated underwear advertising campaigns of the early 1980s. The proliferation of Weber / Klein glistening pectorals and smouldering body tone across the billboards of the United States was reaching its crescendo at the same time as the gay male ‘body’ came under threat from a ‘new’ disease not yet identified as HIV/AIDS. In opposing the rippling musculature and perfect visage of an athlete with the fragmented image of a Calvin Klein Y-fronted ‘ordinary’ man, Middleton questions the ‘gay beauty myth’, both as it touches gay men who do not fit the ‘look’ that advertising has decreed applicable to their sexuality, and from the projected perspective of HIV positive gay men who face the reality of the daily decay of their bodies.”19

.
Other artists, such as David McDiarmid in his celebrated series of safe sex posters for the AIDS Council of New South Wales (below)) critique the body as site for libidinal and deviant pleasures for both positive and negative gay men as long as this is always undertaken safely. In the example from the series “Some of Us Get Out of It, Some of Us Don’t. All of Us Fuck With a Condom, Every Time,” 1992, we see a brightly coloured body, both positive and negative, filled with parties, drugs and alcohol, spreading the arse cheeks to make the arsehole the site of gay male desire. Note however, that the body still has huge arms, strong legs, and a massive back redolent of the desire of gay men for the muscular mesomorphic body image.

 

Lex Middleton. 'Gay Beauty Myth' 1992

 

Lex Middleton (Australian)
Gay Beauty Myth
1992
Gelatin silver photographs

 

David McDiarmid (Australian, 1952-1995) 'Some of Us Get Out of It, Some of Us Don't. All of Us Fuck With a Condom, Every Time!' 1992

 

David McDiarmid (Australian, 1952-1995)
Some of Us Get Out of It, Some of Us Don’t. All of Us Fuck With a Condom, Every Time!
1992
Colour offset print on paper
67.1 x 44.5cm

AIDS Council of New South Wales / McDiarmid, David (designer). Some of Us Get Out of It, Some of Us Don’t. All of Us Fuck With a Condom, Every Time! 1992, in Gott, Ted (ed.,). Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS. Melbourne: Thames and Hudson/NGA, 1994, p. 154.

 

Brenton Heath-Kerr (Australian, 1962-1995) 'Homosapien' 1994

 

Brenton Heath-Kerr (Australian, 1962-1995)
Homosapien
1994
Laminated photomechanical reproductions and cloth

Heath-Kerr, Brenton. “Homosapien,” 1994, in Gott, Ted (ed.,). Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS. Melbourne: Thames and Hudson/NGA, 1994, p. 75.

 

 

More revealing (literally) was the work and performance art of Brenton Heath-Kerr. Growing out of his involvement in the dance party scene in Sydney, Australia in 1991, Heath-Kerr’s combination of costume and photography made his creations come to life, and he sought to critique the narcissistic elements of this gay dance culture, such as the Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball parties. Later work included the figure Homosapiens (1994, above) which observes the workings of the body laid bare by the ravages of HIV/AIDS and comments on the politics of governments who control funding for drugs to treat those who are infected.

Californian photographer Albert J. Winn, in his series My Life until Now (1993, below) does not seek to elicit sympathy for his incurable disease, but positions his having the disease as only a small part of his overall personality and life. Other photographs in the series feature pictures of his lover, his home, old family photographs, and texts reflecting on his childhood, sexuality, and religion. As Albert J. Winn comments,

“The pictures from My Life Until Now are a progression of thinking about identity. Now I am a gay man, a gay man with AIDS, a Jew, a lover, a person who has books on the shelf, etc., not just another naked gay man with another naked gay man, and I tried to load the photograph(s) with information. I feel I am determining my identity by making the choice to show all this stuff.”20

.
Personally I believe that integrating your sexuality into your overall identity is the last, most important part of ‘coming out’ as a gay man, and this phenomenon is what Albert J. Winn, in his own way, is commenting on.

One of my favourite artists, now dead, who just happened to be gay and critiqued the social landscape was named David Wojnarowicz. Using an eclectic mix of black and white and colour photography (mainly 35mm), drawing, painting, collage, documenting of performances and sculpture, Wojnarowicz created a commentary on his world, the injustices, the sex, the politics, the brutality, the environments, and the people who inhabited them to name just a little of his subject matter. The Untitled 1988-1989 image from the Sex Series (below) is not a collage but a photomontage, two colour slides reverse printed onto black and white paper to make the negative image. Images from the series feature text, babies, all manner of different sexual persuasions, tornadoes, trains, ships, war images, and cells. Wojnarowicz himself states that,

“By mixing variation of sexual expressions there is an attempt to dismantle the structures formed by category; all are affected by laws and policies. The spherical structures embedded in the series are about examination and or surveillance. Looking through a microscope or looking through a telescope or the monitoring that takes place in looking through the lens of a set of binoculars. Its all about oppression and suppression.”

.
Oppression and suppression are the continuing themes in Wojnarowicz’s 1989 image, Bad Moon Rising (below). Here the wounded body of St. Sebastian, a recurring figure in gay iconography, has been impaled not just by arrows but by a tree, the mythological ‘tree of life’ growing up/down, from/into the ‘earth’ of money, the politics of consumerism and the illness of consumption. Again, in the small vignettes we observe the home, the sex, time, cells and their surveillance.

 

Albert J Winn (American, 1947-2014) 'Drug Related Skin Rashes' 1993

 

Albert J Winn (American, 1947-2014)
Drug Related Skin Rashes
1993
Silver gelatin photograph

Winn, Albert J. Drug Related Skin Rashes, from the series My Life Until Now, 1993, in Gott, Ted (ed.,). Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS. Melbourne: Thames and Hudson/NGA, 1994, p. 224.

 

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) 'Untitled' 1989 From the 'Sex Series (For Marion Scemama)'

 

David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Untitled
1989
From the Sex Series

 

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) 'Untitled' 1989 From the 'Sex Series (For Marion Scemama)'

 

David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Untitled
1989
From the Sex Series

 

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) 'Bad Moon Rising' 1989

 

David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Bad Moon Rising
1989
Black and white photographs, acrylic, string, and collage on Masonite

Wojnarowicz, David. Bad Moon Rising, 1989, in Harris, Melissa. Brushfires in the Social Landscape. New York: Aperture Publications, 1994, p. 39.

 

 

And so it goes…

Meanwhile in Australia, the burgeoning cult of body worship was being fuelled by the more traditional homo-erotic photographs from America. This iconography was assimilated by local commercial photographers. They played with the traditions of surf, sand, sun and sea for which Australia is renowned and Dennis Maloney, in particular, concentrated his attention on the surf lifesavers that patrolled the beach during surf carnivals. He photographed the guys with their well built tanned bodies, good looks, swimming costumes pulled up between buttocks, and let the homosexual market for such images do the rest. He also photographed what I would classify as soft-core porn images such as the Untitled 1990 image from the series Sons of Beaches (below), the idyllic man in his reverie, wet bathing costume moulded to the curve of his buttocks, legs spread invitingly in a suggestive homo-erotic sexual position.

This trend of using images of the muscular, smooth male body for both commercial purposes and as the ‘ideal’ of what a gay man should look like continues unabated to this day. Pick up any local gay newspaper or magazine and they are full of adverts for chat lines or escorts that feature this body type. The news photographs from around the clubs also feature nearly naked well built men with their buffed torsos.

Most images on the Internet also feature this particular body type (below), whether they belong to commercial sites or as the images that are chosen, desired and lusted after in the galleries of private home pages. The most alternative photographs of the male body I have found on the Internet occur when they are the personal photographs of their authors, when they picture themselves (below). These images exhibit a massive variety in the shape, size, hirsuteness and colour of gay men, most of whom don’t come anywhere near to the supposed ‘ideal’. And what of the future for the male body? Perhaps you would like to read the Future Press chapter in the CD ROM to get a few ideas.

Dr Marcus Bunyan 2001

 

Denis Maloney (Australian) 'Untitled' c. 1990

 

Denis Maloney (Australian)
Untitled
c. 1990
From the series Sons of Beaches
Colour photograph

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled
1998
Image from a commercial Internet web page

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled
1998
Image from a commercial Internet web page

 

 

Footnotes

1/ Anonymous (French). “Male Nude Study.” Daguerreotype, c. 1843, in Ewing, William. The Body. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994, p. 65. Courtesy: Stefan Richter, Reutlingen, Germany.

2/ “One of the things that interests me is the problem of friendship … You can find, from the sixteenth century on, texts explicitly criticize friendship as something dangerous. The army, bureaucracy, administration, universities, schools, et cetera – in the modern senses of these words – cannot function with such intense friendships. I think there can be seen a very strong attempt in all these institutions to diminish, or minimize, the affectional relations … One of my hypotheses … is that homosexuality became a problem – that is, sex between men became a problem – in the eighteenth century. We see the rise of it as a problem with the police, within the justice system, and so on. I think the reason it appears as a problem, as a social issue, at this time is that friendship has disappeared. As long as friendship was something important, was socially accepted, nobody realized men had sex together. You couldn’t say that men didn’t have sex together – it just didn’t matter … Once friendship disappeared as a culturally accepted relation, the issue arose, “What is going on between men?” And that’s when the problem appears … I’m sure I’m right, that the disappearance of friendship as a social relation and the declaration of homosexuality as a social / political / medical problem are the same process.” (My emphasis).
Gallagher, Bob and Wilson, Alexander. “Sex and the Politics of Identity: An Interview with Michel Foucault,” in Thompson, Mark. Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987, pp. 32-34.

3/ The formation of ‘The Cult of Muscularity’ in the last decade of the 19th century was a reaction to the perceived effeminisation of heterosexual masculinity. The position of the active, heroic hetero-male was under attack from the passivity of industrialisation, from the expansion of women’s rights and their ability to become breadwinners, and through the naming of deviant sexualities that were seen as a threat to the stability of society. By naming deviant sexualities they became visible to the general public for the fist time, creating apprehension in the minds of men gazing upon the bodies of other men lest they be thought of as ‘pansies’… Muscles became the sign of heterosexual power, prowess, and virility. A man had control over his body and his physical world. His appearance affected how he interacted with this world, how he saw himself, and was seen by others, and how closely he matched the male physical ‘ideal’ impacted on his own levels of self-esteem. The gymnasium became a meeting point for exercise, for health, for male bonding, and to show off your undoubted ‘masculinity’. Sporting and war heroes became national icons. Muscle proved the ‘masculinity’ of men, fit for power, fit to dominate women and less powerful men. By the 1950s this masculine identity construction was well established in America and many gay men sought to hid their perceived feminine traits, their (homo)sexuality from public view for fear of persecution.
Bunyan, Marcus. “Bench Press,” in Marcus Bunyan. Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male. RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001.

4/ “The fear that swept gay men at the height of the McCarthy Era cannot be underestimated. It exploited a prevailing fear in American culture at large of effeminate men and instilled it further, even among gay men. Not only would men, gay and straight, not want to appear effeminate lest someone think they were homosexual, but the profusely masculine pose that straight men adopted in the 1950s had a profound effect on gay men that lasted for generations. Homosexuals are, after all, attracted to men, and if men in a given culture are assuming an even more masculine appearance than previously, thus redefining once again what it means to be a man, homosexuals will perhaps by default become more attracted to that more masculine appearance … The effeminate homosexual continued to become at best someone to avoid, even among a great many gay men themselves.”
Signorile, Michelangelo. Life Outside: The Signorile Report on Gay Men: Sex, Drugs, Muscles, and the Passages of Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, pp. 46-47 quoted in Bunyan, Marcus. Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male. Melbourne: RMIT University, 2000. Femi-nancy Press chapter, p. 1.

5/ Anonymous. “Otto Arco and Adrian Deraiz.” Nd in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 39.

6/ This sculpture tightly adheres to the many criteria of the Nazi aesthetic and therefore contains the visual and thematic aspects of the Nazi aesthetic. The sculpture depicts two men in front, both in an athletic pose. This sculpture depicts the Nazi ideals of masculinity and virility. It does this by depicting an extremely athletic, in-shape fighter. The static image idolized the idealized athletic form as a goal for the rest of the nation. The figure furthers the Nazi state’s anti-Bolshevist stance as it depicts a Nazi ideal of a strong and vigorous German man, in contrast to the degraded figures often portrayed in Bolshevik art, suffering as victims of class oppression.
Anonymous. “The Nazi Aesthetic: A Vehicle of Nazi Values,” on the Grappling with the Nazi Past website May 8, 2019 [Online] Cited 10/09/2022

7/ Leddick, David. Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955. New York: Universe Publishing, 1997, p. 21.

8/ Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bullfinch Press, 1993, Plate 78.

9/ Whole series of studio shots of male butt and arsehole in different positions. Quite explicit. Some close-up, others full body shots with legs in the air. Not his best work but interesting for its era. Very sexually anal or anally sexual! As in GPL’s work, very about form as well. In one photograph a guy spreads his cheeks while bending over from the waist, in another photograph he spreads his cheeks while standing slightly bent forward. These are the most explicit of GPL’s images in the Collection that I saw, though perhaps not the most successful or interesting photographically. 8″ x 10″ contact print.
See Plate 78 in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, for an image from this series.

10/ Der Kries. No. 1. Zurich: No Publisher, January, 1952. Homosexual magazine. Typical photographs of the era in this magazine. No frontal nudity even up to the later 1965 editions. Lithe young men, drawings and articles, including one on the Kinsey Report in the 1952 first edition (pp. 6-7). Some of the photographs in Der Kries of young European men are similar to German naturist movement photographs (Cat. No. 52423 – Oct, Nov, Dec 1949. Cat. No. 52452 – May, June 1949 showing 5 nude boys outdoors throwing medicine ball in the air with their arms upraised). Also some photographs are similar to von Gloeden’s Italian peasants (Cat. No. 52424 – July 1952. Cat. No. 52425 – August 1960. Cat. No. 52426 – May, Oct 1956: all 4 photographs). The 1949 photographs are possibly taken from earlier German magazines anyway? Discus, javelin, archer, and shot putter images. Mainly nudes. George Platt Lynes contributed to the magazine under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf.

11/ Image No. 52006. Bruce of Los Angeles. Kinsey Institute acquired 1950. Annotation: Tom Matthews, 24 years old. Older man, dark hair. Big pecs, arms, tanned, hairy arms and chest, looking down and away from camera. Nude, limp cut dick. Sitting on a pedestal which is on a raffia mat. Metal chain wrapped around both wrists which are crossed. Lighting seems to be from 2 sources – high right and mid-left. Unusual in that this physique photograph shows an older, hairy man who is nude.

12/ Bérubé, Allan. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two. New York: The Free Press, 1990, pp. 272-273.

13/ Dupain, Max. Max Dupain’s Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking/Penguin Books Australia, 1986, p. 157.

14/ Domenique (ed.,). Art in Physique Photography Vol. 1. (illus. by David Angelo, designed and produced by Lon of New York in London). Worcester Park, England: Man’s World Publishing Company Ltd., 195?

15/ Album 1501: A Study of Sexual Activity Between Males. Los Angeles: Greyhuff Publishing, 1970.
Bodies in this magazine are smooth, young toned men, much as in the early photographs of George Platt Lynes. The perform both oral and anal sex on each other in a lounge room lit by strong lights (shadows on walls). Black and white photographs, well shot, magazine is about 5″ wide and 10″ high, well laid out and printed. The magazine is a thin volume and features just the two models in one sex scene of them undressing each other and then having sex. One man wears a Pepsi-Cola T-shirt at first and he also has tattoos one of which says ‘Cheri’. The photographs almost have a private feel to them.
This is the earliest commercial gay pornography magazine that I have seen that features m2m anal and oral sex and comes after the American Supreme Court ruled on obscenity laws in the late 1960s. Note the progression from physique magazines and models in posing pouches in 1966-1968, then to full erection and stories of anal penetration in Action Line in 1969, to full on photographs of gay sex in this magazine in 1970. Bodies are all smooth, quite solid, toned natural physiques, not as ‘built’ as in earlier physique magazines, but still featuring younger smooth men and not older heavier set men. In their introduction the publishers disclaim any agreement with the content of the magazine and are only publishing it for the freedom of everybody to study the material in the privacy of their own homes. In other words m2m sex is a natural phenomenon and the publication is educational. This was a common ploy in early nudist and pornographic publications to justify the content – to claim that the material was for private educational purposes only.
Marcus Bunyan. “Research Notes on Physique Magazines and Early Gay Pornography Magazines of the 1960s from the Collection at the One Institute / International Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California, 28/08/1999,” in Marcus Bunyan. Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male. RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001.

16/ Anonymous quotation in Colt Studios. Olympus from Colt Studios Vol. 1. No 2. Hollywood, California: Colt Studios, 1973, p. 42.

17/ During my research at The One Institute in Los Angeles I investigated the type of body images that appeared in the transitional phase from physique magazines of the mid-late 1960s into the early gay pornography magazines of 1969-1970 in America which occurred after the Supreme Court ruling on obscenity. I wanted to find whether there had been a crossover, a continuation of the muscular mesomorphic body image that was a favourite of the physique photographers into the early pornography magazines. From the evidence of the images in the magazines I would have to say that there was a limited crossover of the bigger muscular bodies but most bodies that appeared in the early gay porn mags were of the youthful, smooth, muscular ephebe-type body image.
Most of the men featured in the early gay pornography magazines and films have bodies that appear to be quite ‘natural’ in their form. Models are mostly young, smooth, quite solid with toned physiques, not as ‘built’ as in the earlier physique magazines but still well put together. Examining the magazines at the One Institute I found that the bodies of older muscular / hairy men were not well represented. Perhaps this was due to the unavailability of the bigger and older bodybuilders to participate in such activity? In the male bodies of the c. late-1970s Super 8 mm pornography films we can observe the desirable image of the smooth youthful ephebe being presented for our erotic pleasure.
Marcus Bunyan. “Gay Male Pornography,” in the ‘In-Press’ chapter in Marcus Bunyan. Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male. RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001.

18/ Schneider, Norbert. The Art of the Portrait. Koln: Benedikt Taschen, 1994, p. 67.

19/ Gott, Ted. “Agony Down Under: Australian Artists Addressing AIDS,” in Gott, Ted. (ed.,). Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS. Melbourne: Thames and Hudson/NGA (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra), 1994, p. 4.

20/ Winn, Albert J. quoted in Grover, Jan. “OI: Opportunistic Identification, Open Identification in PWA Portraiture,” in Gott, Ted. (ed.,). Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS. Melbourne: Thames and Hudson/NGA (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra), 1994, p. 223.

 

 

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14
Aug
22

Review: ‘WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture’ at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 25th March – 21st August 2022

 

Entrance of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Entrance of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The black and white show

This is a challenging and stimulating exhibition at NGV Australia, Federation Square that attempts to answer the question: “who are you” when coming to terms with what it is to be an Australian.

WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture is one of the most comprehensive explorations of portraiture ever mounted in Australia and the first exhibition to bring together the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra… [it] considers portraiture in Australia across time and media, as well as the role of the portraiture genre in the development of a sense of Australian national identity… The exhibition also questions what actually constitutes portraiture by examining the surprising and sometimes unconventional ways of representing likeness… Presented across five thematic sections, the exhibition raises challenging and provocative questions about who we are and how we view others – historically, today and into the future…

The exhibition opens by considering the connection between people and place, reflecting on the relationship between artists, sitters and the environment, as well as the personification of the natural world… A further section explores the artistic tradition of the self-portrait and portraits of artists, as well as how this convention has been subverted or challenged by contemporary artists working today… Ideas of intimacy and alienation are juxtaposed through images of family and community presented alongside those of vulnerability and isolation… The exhibition also explores portraiture’s surprising capacity to reveal the inner worlds and mindsets of both the sitter and the artist… The final section of the exhibition interrogates Australian icons, identities and how we construct them.” (Press release)

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This is an ambitious agenda for several large exhibitions, let alone cram so many ideas into one exhibition. And in the end the central question “who are you” is unknowable, unanswerable in any definitive way… for it all depends on your ancestry, and from what point of view you are looking and in what context – and these conditions can change from minute to minute, day to day, and era to era. Identity is always partially fixed and fluid at one and the same time. It is always a construction, a work in progress, governed by social and cultural relations.

“Identity is formed by social processes. Once crystallized, it is maintained, modified, or even reshaped by social relations. The social processes involved in both the formation and the maintenance of identity are determined by the social structure. Conversely, the identities produced by the interplay of the organism, individual consciousness and social structure react upon the given social structure, maintaining it, modifying it, or even reshaping it.”1

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Identity construction is a self-referential system where identities are produced out of social systems. They (identities) then act upon those very systems to alter them, and then those systems re-act again forming anew, an ever changing identity. “The task of identity formation is to develop a stable, coherent picture of oneself that includes an integration of one’s past and present experiences and a sense of where one is headed in the future.”2 But that identity formation, while seeking to be stable, is both multiple and contestatory. It is through those contests that a future sense of self can challenge hegemonic power differentials. As Judith Butler observes,

“Thus every insistence on identity must at some point lead to a taking stock of the constitutive exclusions that reconsolidate hegemonic power differentials, exclusions that each articulation was forced to make in order to proceed. This critical reflection will be important in order not to replicate at the level of identity politics the very exclusionary moves that initiated the turn to specific identities in the first place … It will be a matter of tracing the ways in which identification is implicated in what it excludes, and to follow the lines of that implication for the map of future community that it might yield.”3

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In other words, learn from the mistakes of the past and don’t let them repeat themselves in future identities! Do not exclude others in order to reconsolidate the hegemonic status quo. But people always form identities based on the “norm” – how can you change that? As A. David Napier states, “We rely, sometimes almost exclusively it seems, upon the construction and reconstruction of an evolutionary(?) sequence of events that simultaneously excludes outsiders and provides some basis for justifying our social rules and actions. Thus, we minimize diversity by reflecting on who we are, by achieving, that is, a self-conscious state that is not only accepted but considered desirable…”4

Critical reflection is thus so important in challenging who we are, both individually and collectively. In this sense, an exhibition like WHO ARE YOU is important in helping to reshape social relations, helping to challenge hegemonic power differentials, which in turn affects our personal identity construction by reflecting on who we are and changing our point of view, so that we become more informed, and more empathetic, towards different cultures and different people. So that we do not exclude other people and other points of view.

But all is not roses and light in this exhibition with regard to exclusion.

Whilst a lot of people acknowledge and empathise with First Nations people we can have NO IDEA of the ongoing pain and hurt centuries of invasion, disenfranchisement, genocide, massacres, Stolen Generation, lack of health care, massive incarceration, suicide rates and shorter life expectancy, land loss, cultural loss that the violence of the white Anglo gaze has inflicted on the oldest living culture on Earth. While there are moves afoot (as there have been for years) for Aboriginal constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament, a permanent body representing First Nations people that would advise government on Indigenous policy; and a treaty that would help secure sovereignty and self-determination, enabling First Nations people make their own decisions and control their own lives, economy and land, free from the effects of changing governments – personally I believe until there is a complete acknowledgement of the pain invasion has caused Aboriginal people by the whole of Australia, nothing will ever change.

Having said that, contemporary Australia is now the most multicultural country it as ever been. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census, 27.6 per cent of the population were born overseas and the top 5 countries of birth (excluding Australia) were, in order, England, India, China, New Zealand and the Philippines.5 In Australia, 812,000 people identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census of Population and Housing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented 3.2% of the population.6

It is interesting to note that when looking through the art works in this exhibition – nearly all of which can be seen in this posting – how much of it is (historical) white art and how much of it is contemporary Aboriginal art, with a sop being made to art made by, or mentioning, other people including Chinese, Afghan, Muslim and Sudanese. Chinese people have been living in Australia for centuries, Afghan people similarly. Greek and Italian people arrived in droves in the 1950s-1960s, Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s, Sudanese, Indian and Sri Lankan people in the late 20th century. More (historical and contemporary) work from these people was needed in this exhibition because they inform the construction of modern Australian identities.

Obviously the inclusion of so much contemporary Aboriginal work is a deliberate curatorial decision, but its disproportionate representation in this exhibition makes it feel like a “catch all”. Why do the curators feel the need to include so much Indigenous work? Is that how they truly see Australian identity? Also, does the inclusion of this art mean it is the best contemporary art that is available in Australia at the moment, or does its inclusion simply exclude other voices from different nationalities and ethnic and religious backgrounds that are just as important in the construction of contemporary Australian identities? While there is no denying the historical significance of invasion there needs to be a balance in such representation, especially in an exhibition purporting to investigate “who are you” over a broad range of references. As it stands the inclusion of so much Indigenous work feels like an agenda, a set point of departure, perhaps even an apologia for white guilt. As the critic John McDonald noted recently, we are living “at a time when museums and commercial galleries have gone completely gaga for such [that is, Aboriginal] work.”

Personally, I would have liked to have seen a greater range of voices expressing themselves in this exhibition. It struck me that the inclusion of so much (historical) white art and so much contemporary Aboriginal art formed a rather limited framework in which to examine “who are you”. Rather, I would have liked a more balanced representation through art of the many voices that contribute to the formation of evolving Australian identities, which ultimately could lead to a greater insight into the construction of our own self-portrait. That is the truly important aspect of any navel gazing exercise.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,450

 

  1. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Allen Lane, London, 1967, p. 194.
  2. Erickson, E. Identity: Youth in Crisis. Norton, New York, 1968
  3. Judith Butler. Bodies That Matter. Routledge, New York, 1993, pp. 118-119
  4. A. David Napier. Foreign Bodies: Performance Art, and Symbolic Anthropology. University of California press, Berkeley, 1992, p.143.
  5. “Cultural diversity: Census” 2021 on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website 28/06/2022 [Online] Cited 12/08/2022
  6. “Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population summary” 2021 on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website 28/06/2022 [Online] Cited 12/08/2022

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish some of the photographs in the posting. All installation images © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing from left to right, Polixeni Papapetrou’s Magma Man (2012, below); Karla Dickens’ Mrs Woods and ‘Ere (2013, below); and Kaylene Whiskey’s Seven Sisters Song (2021, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Polixeni Papapetrou (Australian, 1960-2018) 'Magma Man' 2012

 

Polixeni Papapetrou (Australian, 1960-2018)
Magma Man
2012
From the series The Ghillies 2013
Inkjet print
120.0 x 120.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2013
© Polixeni Papapetrou/Administered by VISCOPY, Sydney
Photo: © National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

Polixeni Papapetrou’s series The Ghillies shows the artist’s son wearing extreme camouflage costumes that are used by the defence forces to blend in with their environment. The photographs reflect on the passing of childhood, and the journey out of a maternally centred world into a wider existence. Papapetrou proposes that this is a significant moment for many young men as they seek to separate themselves from their mothers, and assume the costumes and identities of masculine stereotypes, often hiding themselves in the process. Papapetrou photographed her children fro most of her career, and explored a range of stereotypes that surround childhood. These works examine the placement of children and adolescents in a society which is determined and defined by adults.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Karla Dickens (Australian / Wiradjuri, b. 1967) 'Mrs Woods and 'Ere' 2013

 

Karla Dickens (Australian / Wiradjuri, b. 1967)
Mrs Woods and ‘Ere
2013
Inkjet print on paper, ed. 3/10
Image: 66.0 x 100.cm
Sheet: 76.5 x 110.0 cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2019
© Karla Dickens/Copyright Agency, 2022

 

 

Tjayanka Woods (c. 1935-2014) was a senior Pitjantjatjara artist, born near Kalaya Pirti (Emu Water) near Mimili and Wataru, South Australia. She was a cultural custodian, leader and held significant knowledges regarding cultural law and medicine. As an artist, Woods often referred to the Kungkarrangkalpa Tjurkurpa (Seven Sisters) within her artworks. The Kungkarrangkalpa Tjurkurpa is an epic and ancient creation story revolving around the start cluster, also known as Pleiades. In 2013, Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, spent several weeks with Woods and other senior Pitjantjatjara artists research the creation story. During her time in Pitjantjatjara Country, Dickens photographed Woods as the aware and intelligent cultural leader she was, with dignity and strength.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Kaylene Whiskey (Australian / Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, b. 1976) 'Seven Sisters Song' 2021

 

Kaylene Whiskey (Australian / Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, b. 1976)
Seven Sisters Song
2021
Enamel paint on road sign
120.0 x 180.0cm irreg.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2021
© Kaylene Whiskey. Courtesy of the artist, Iwantja Arts and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

 

 

Kaylene Whiskey seamlessly combines references to daily life in Indulkana with popular culture. Painted on an old road sign, Seven Sisters Song celebrates Whiskey’s witty sense of humour and personal reflection of Kungkarangkalpa Tjukurpa, the Seven Sisters creation story. Imbued within the work themes of sisterhood and kinship bonds, Whiskey brings together two vastly different worlds. Strong female characters including Wonder Woman, Whoopi Goldberg and Dolly Parton are situated within a desert landscape and seen interacting with native plants and wildlife, including traditional Anangu activities like hunting, collecting bush tucker, and cultivating mingkulpa (a native tobacco plant).

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Johannes Heyer (Australian, 1872-1945) 'William Barak at work on the drawing 'Ceremony' at Coranderrk' 1902

 

Johannes Heyer (Australian, 1872-1945)
William Barak at work on the drawing ‘Ceremony’ at Coranderrk
1902
Gelatin silver photograph, sepia toned on paper
8.7 x 8.7cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with the assistance of the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society 2000

 

 

Wurundjeri artist and ngurungaeta (Head Man) William Barak was an important cultural leader, diplomat and activist. Barak lived near Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, near Healesville, from 1863 until 1903, becoming an influential spokesman for the rights of his people and an informant on Wurundjeri cultural lore. The people of Coranderrk, however, were officially forbidden from observing traditional practices, so Barak began recording them in drawings, often using ochre and charcoals to depict ceremonies and aspects of Wurundjeri culture before colonisation. His artworks are significant expressions of cultural practice, and he is regarded as an important figure int he history of Indigenous Australian art.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Beruk (William Barak) (1824-1903), an elder of the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi-worung, was the most famous Aboriginal person in Victoria in the 1890s. After attending the Reverend George Langhorne’s mission school, Barak joined the Native Police in 1844 and remained there until at least 1851. From 1863 until his death he lived at the government reserve at Coranderrk, at a site near the Yarra River in Victoria. The history of the reserve is one of official interference and mismanagement, and Barak played a significant part in representing the wishes of his community to the government. In the decade of the 1880s he made many paintings and artefacts, mostly of Aboriginal ceremonial subjects.

 

Beruk (1824-1903), artist, activist, leader and educator, was a Wurundjeri man of the Woiwurrung people, one of the five Kulin Nations whose Country encompasses Narrm (Melbourne). It is said that Beruk was present at the signing of the so-called treaty with which John Batman reckoned he’d acquired 240,000 hectares of Wurundjeri land in 1835. In reality, the men with whom Batman negotiated, including one of Beruk’s uncles, had not transferred ownership, but merely given Batman permission to stay temporarily. Beruk was given the name William Barak (a European mispronunciation) in 1844 when he joined the Native Police. He was among the group of people from across Victoria who were the first to join the settlement at Coranderrk, near Healesville, established by the Aboriginal Protection Board in 1863 following several years of petitioning by community leaders. Beruk emerged as a leader at Coranderrk, which developed into a self-sufficient agricultural settlement. Following the passing of his cousin Simon Wonga in 1874, Beruk became Ngurungaeta (head man) of the Wurundjeri people. During the same period, when European pastoral interests started lobbying for Coranderrk to be broken up and sold off, Beruk led the campaign to prevent the settlement’s closure. It was gazetted as a ‘permanent reservation’ in 1881.

By this time, Beruk was recognised as a leader of his people and as a revered custodian of language and cultural knowledge. As the people at Coranderrk were officially forbidden from observing their traditional ceremonies, including corroborees, Beruk began recording his knowledge in drawings, utilising introduced methods and materials including paper, cardboard, and watercolour to preserve and communicate important stories and aspects of culture and spirituality. On the one hand, his drawings and the artefacts he made functioned as a commodity and were sold as souvenirs to increasing numbers of tourists. Museums in Europe began acquiring examples of his work in the late nineteenth century. On the other hand, and more significantly, Beruk’s drawings represent a profound assertion of pride in his heritage and identity, and the survival of a rich and complex culture in the face of concerted attempts to diminish it. As Wurundjeri elder and Beruk’s great-great niece Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy says: “We believe that what he wanted was for people to remember those ceremonies, so that if he painted them … then people would always know about the ceremonies on Coranderrk and of Wurundjeri people.”

This photograph of Beruk was taken by Johannes Heyer, a Presbyterian clergyman called to the parish of Yarra Glen and Healesville in 1900. The drawing that Beruk is shown working on in the photograph is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Anonymous text. “William Barak at work on the drawing ‘Ceremony’ at Coranderrk,” on the National Portrait Gallery website Nd [Online] Cited 18/06/2022

 

David Moore (Australia 1927-2003) 'Migrants arriving in Sydney' 1966

 

David Moore (Australia 1927-2003)
Migrants arriving in Sydney
1966
Gelatin silver print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1961

 

 

WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture is the first exhibition to comprehensively bring together the rich portrait holdings of both the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. Revealing the artistic synergies and contrasts between the two institutions’ collections, this co-curated exhibition considers portraiture in Australia across time and media.

Through the examination of diverse and sometimes unconventional ways of representing likeness, WHO ARE YOU will question what actually constitutes portraiture – historically, today and into the future. Examples of some of the more abstract notions of portraits in the exhibition include John Nixon’s Self-portrait, (1990), and Boris Cipusev’s typographic portrait of Jeff from The Wiggles, titled Jeff the wiggle, 2009-2013. Polixeni Papapetrou’s Magma man, 2013, a photograph that merges sitter and landscape until the two are almost indecipherable, and Shirley Purdie’s multi-panelled evocation of biography and Country, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018, further challenge the conventions of the genre and touch upon the intimate connection between artist, sitter and land. NGV Collection highlights include new acquisitions: Kaylene Whiskey’s Seven Sisters Song, 2021 – a playful take on portraiture by a living artist and Joy Hester’s Pauline McCarthy,1945, a rare example of Hester producing a portrait in oil.

WHO ARE YOU is the largest exhibition of Australian portraiture ever mounted by either the NGV or NPG, and is the first time the two galleries have worked collaboratively on such a large-scale project.

Text from the NGV International website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing Lloyd Rees' 'Portrait of some rocks' 1948

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing Lloyd Rees’ Portrait of some rocks (1948, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Lloyd Rees. 'Portrait of some rocks' 1948

 

Lloyd Rees (Australian, 1895-1988)
Portrait of some rocks
1948
Oil on canvas
76.6 x 102.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1948
© Lloyd Rees/Licensed by Copyright Agency, Australia

 

 

One of Australia’s leading landscape artists of the mid-twentieth century, Lloyd Rees studied at Brisbane Technical College before moving to Sydney in 1917, where he worked as a commercial illustrator. In the early 1930s he concentrated solely on drawing, particularly the rocky landscapes around Sydney, but by the late 1930s he began painting in an increasingly romantic manner. Rocks were a meaningful subject for Rees because they evoked permanency and represented the constitution of the earth. Rees humanises his subject matter by using the word ‘portrait’ in the title, which suggests the rocks have shifted from inorganic to animate objects.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at right, Marshall Claxton’s An emigrant’s thoughts of home (1859, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at right, Marshall Claxton’s An emigrant’s thoughts of home (1859, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Marshall Claxton (English, 1813-1881, worked in Australia 1850-1854) 'An emigrant's thoughts of home' 1859

 

Marshall Claxton (English, 1813-1881, worked in Australia 1850-1854)
An emigrant’s thoughts of home
1859
Oil on cardboard
60.7 × 47.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Women’s Association, 1974

 

 

Immigration underlies the European history of Australia. Between 1815 and 1840, more than 58,000 people, predominately from the British Isles, came to Australia in search of a better life. Women migrants were also assisted to curb a gender imbalance in the colonies, to work as domestic servants and to foster marriages and childbirth.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

Immigration is central to the history of Australia. The wistful tilt of this young woman’s head and her thoughtful expression are powerful symbols of the intense nostalgia and fear of the unknown experienced by those in search of a new homeland. Despite its apparent simplicity and sentimentality, the painting captures the issues of poverty, deprivation and emigration that people, especially women, faced in the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Peter Drew (Australian, b. 1983) 'Monga Khan 1916' 2016, printed 2019

 

Peter Drew (Australian, b. 1983)
Monga Khan 1916
2016, printed 2019
From the Aussie series 2016
Brush and ink on screenprint
Image: 114.5 x 80.5cm
Sheet: 117.5 x 83.5cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, NGV Supporters of Prints and Drawings, 2020
© Peter Drew

 

 

Monga Khan was a hawker, and one of the thousands of people who applied for an exemption to the White Australia Policy, a law which came into effect in 1901. Exemptions were considered for cameleers, hawkers and other traders who were considered essential workers. Drew created this poster and others in the Aussie series using photographs from the National Archives of Australia, and pasted them around Australia’s cities.

He explains: ‘When you address the public through the street you’re entering into a tradition that emphasises our fundamental freedom of expression, over the value of property. I enjoy examining our collective identities and my aim is always to emphasise the connections that bind us, rather than the fractures that divide us’.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, Maree Clarke’s Walert – gum barerarerungar (2020-2021, below); and at right, Uta Uta Tjangala’s Ngurrapalangu (1989, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Uta Uta Tjangala (Australian / Puntupi, c. 1926-1990) 'Ngurrapalangu' 1989 (installation view)

 

Uta Uta Tjangala (Australian / Puntupi, c. 1926-1990)
Ngurrapalangu (installation view)
1989
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through the NGV Foundation by Elizabeth and Colin Laverty, Governors, 2001
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Uta Uta Tjangala forged a new art form at Papunya during 1971-1972 with startling works such as this one. Working for the first time on a discarded scrap of composition board, artists at Papunya rendered visible and permanent ephemeral designs, formerly made only for use in closed and secret ceremonial contexts on bodies, objects or the ground. The painted designs are closely connected to the artist’s cultural identity, his understanding of Country, and of sacred men’s business, unknowable to uninitiated members of the community.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Maree Clarke (Australian / Mutti Mutti/Wamba Wamba/Yorta Yorta/Boonwurrung, b. 1961) 'Walert – gum barerarerungar: Tipperary, Ireland Dunstable, Britain Yorta Yorta Trawlwoolway Boonwurrung, Muttu Mutti, Wamba Wamba' 2020-2021 (installation view)

 

Maree Clarke (Australian / Mutti Mutti/Wamba Wamba/Yorta Yorta/Boonwurrung, b. 1961)
Walert – gum barerarerungar: Tipperary, Ireland Dunstable, Britain Yorta Yorta Trawlwoolway Boonwurrung, Muttu Mutti, Wamba Wamba (installation view)
2020-2021
Possum pelts
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchase, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2021
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Maree Clarke is recognised as one of the most respected possum skin cloak makers and teachers in the world. This work represents the first time Clarke produced a cloak to represent her own ancestral identity. Depicted on the cloak are seven important places, which her ancestors come from: Yorta Yorta Country, Trawlwoolway Country, Boonwurrung Country, Muttu Mutti Country and Wamba Wamba Country, as well as Tiperrary in Ideland, and Dunstable in Britain. Clarke has used a rare green ochre to represent her European ancestors. Together, these seven ancestral sites of significance inform Clarke’s identity.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Maree Clarke (Australian / Mutti Mutti/Wamba Wamba/Yorta Yorta/Boonwurrung, b. 1961) 'Walert – gum barerarerungar: Tipperary, Ireland Dunstable, Britain Yorta Yorta Trawlwoolway Boonwurrung, Muttu Mutti, Wamba Wamba' 2020-2021 (installation view detail)

 

Maree Clarke (Australian / Mutti Mutti/Wamba Wamba/Yorta Yorta/Boonwurrung, b. 1961)
Walert – gum barerarerungar: Tipperary, Ireland Dunstable, Britain Yorta Yorta Trawlwoolway Boonwurrung, Muttu Mutti, Wamba Wamba (installation view detail)
2020-2021
Possum pelts
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchase, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2021
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Portraiture

In its uniting of artist and sitter, the self-portrait is an intriguing facet of portraiture. The self-reflection is a format that appears to grant the viewer the assurance of revelation and intimate access to the artist’s psyche. However, what the artist intends to communicate to their audience through portraiture is highly varied, and the message each artist conveys is as individual as the artist themselves. Additionally, there is room for the viewer to question how the artist has chosen to depict their image.

Self-portraiture is a diverse genre: there are myriad ways an artist can present themselves. A typical way for the artist to portray themselves is in the role of ‘the artist’, including in the work a visual clue to their profession – for instance holding a brush or paint palette – or showing themselves at work in the studio. As part of an investigation of self, these representations can also communicate the complexities of status and gender. This selection of works explores what the artists intend to reveal or exclude about themselves through their self-representations, considering he environment in which the artists are placed, and the props and imagery they choose to include in the works.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Pamela See (Australian, b. 1979) 'Making Chinese Shadows (sixteen silhouette portraits)' 2018 (installation view)

 

Pamela See (Australian, b. 1979)
Making Chinese Shadows (sixteen silhouette portraits) (installation view)
2018
Twelve of sixteen papercut silhouette drawings
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2019
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Brisbane-born Pamela See (Xue Mei-Ling) studied at the Queensland College of Art from 1997 to 1999. She began papercutting during a period when she was without access to a studio, and was subsequently awarded grants that enabled her to study the technique in several centres throughout China. Her method and style resemble Foshan papercutting, which is widely practices in the home of her maternal grandparents, in Guangdong province. These papercuts are from a series investigating the lives of Chinese-Australians who flourished prior to the introduction of the White Australia policy. The works connect and juxtapose European silhouette portraiture and Chinese papercutting traditions, exploring the notion that a silhouette profile provides a means of ‘measuring’ a sitter’s character with the totemic and floral symbols evoking personal narratives, identity and professions.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Pamela See (Australian, b. 1979) 'Making Chinese Shadows (sixteen silhouette portraits)' 2018 (installation view detail)

 

Pamela See (Australian, b. 1979)
Making Chinese Shadows (sixteen silhouette portraits) (installation view detail)
2018
Twelve of sixteen papercut silhouette drawings
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2019
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Various unknown photographers (Australian) William and Martha Mary Robertson and their children 1860s-1870s (installation view)

Various unknown photographers (Australian) William and Martha Mary Robertson and their children 1860s-1870s (installation view)

Various unknown photographers (Australian) William and Martha Mary Robertson and their children 1860s-1870s (installation view)

 

Various unknown photographers (Australian)
William and Martha Mary Robertson and their children (installation views)
1860s-1870s
Eight cartes de visite, hand-coloured, contained in red leather presentation case
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Malcolm Robertson in memory of William Thomas Robertson 2018
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

LIU Xiao Xian (Australian born China, b. 1963) 'My other lives, #7' 2000

 

LIU Xiao Xian (Australian born China, b. 1963)
My other lives, #7
2000
From the My other lives series 2000
Type C photograph
102.0 × 145.2cm irreg.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds arranged by Loti Smorgon for Contemporary Australian Photography, 2002
© LIU Xiao Xian

 

 

Popular in nineteenth-century Australia, stereographs gave the illusion of three dimensions when placed in a handheld viewer. In this work, Liu Xiao Xian enlarges a typical example of this historical form of photographic portraiture and replaces the sitter’s face with his own on one side. Through this double-take, and the playful invitation to imagine an ‘other life’ for this sitter, this work is both a subtle self-portrait and a pointed reminder of the invisibility of the Chinese migrant experience in mainstream conceptions of Australian history and identity.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

A. D. Colquhoun (Australian, 1894-1983) 'Artist and sitter' c. 1938 (installation view)

 

A. D. Colquhoun (Australian, 1894-1983)
Artist and sitter (installation view)
c. 1938
Oil on canvas
122.0 × 94.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1940
© Dr Quentin Noel Porter
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

A. D. Colquhoun (Australian, 1894-1983) 'Artist and sitter' c. 1938

 

A. D. Colquhoun (Australian, 1894-1983)
Artist and sitter
c. 1938
Oil on canvas
122.0 × 94.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1940
© Dr Quentin Noel Porter

 

 

Brush in hand, there is no mistaking A. D. Colquhoun’s occupation or the studio setting. The young, glamorous model is an essential part of this carefully orchestrated self-portrayal. By also including his painting of the model on the easel, Colquhoun presents himself in the company of not one, but two women whose presence asserts his own dominant masculinity. The artist’s gaze meets the viewer, placing them as the subject of the painter’s attention, creating a complex network of visual relationships between the artist, model and viewer.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at right, Shirley Purdie’s Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe (2018, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Shirley Purdie (Australian / Gija, b. 1947) 'Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe' 2018 (installation view)

 

Shirley Purdie (Australian / Gija, b. 1947)
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe (installation view)
2018
Natural ochre and pigments on canvas (36 parts)
Each: 45.0 x 45.0cm
Overall: 225.0 x 525.0cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2019
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2022
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Shirley Purdie (b. 1947) is a senior Gija artist at the Warmun Art Centre who has been painting for more than twenty years. Purdie has lived on her Country, Western Australia’s East Kimberley, all her life. Inspired by senior Warmun artists, including her late mother, Madigan Thomas, she began to paint sites and narratives associated with her Country in the early 1990s. A prominent leader in the Warmun community, her cultural knowledge and artistic skill allow her to pass on Gija stories and language to the younger generations.

In 2018, Purdie was selected to contribute to the National Portrait Gallery’s 20th anniversary exhibition, So Fine: Contemporary Women Artists Make Australian History. Composed of 36 paintings, Purdie’s self-portrait Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngaginbe is an eloquent and stunning visualisation of personal history, identity and connection to Country. ‘It’s good to learn from old people. They keep saying when you paint you can remember that Country, just like to take a photo … When the old people die, young people can read the stories from the paintings. They can learn from the paintings and maybe they want to start painting too.’ Using richly textured ochres collected on her Country, Purdie’s work is a kaleidoscope of traditional Gija stories and Ngarranggarni passed down to her.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

 

Shirley Purdie is senior Gija woman and a prominent leader within the Warmup Community in Western Australia’s East Kimberley. Combining her cultural knowledge with her art, Purdie creates visual depictions of Gija life and culture. Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, meaning ‘from my women’, is informed by Aboriginal ways of seeing, knowing and understanding oneself within the world. Each of the thirty-six panels shares a story about personal history, identity and Country to produce a non-representational self-portrait of the artist and her ongoing connection to women’s stories. By drawing on the significant women in her life, their relationships and histories, Purdie describes herself through these cultural connections and stories.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing Sam Jink’s Divide (Self portrait) (2011, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sam Jinks (Australian, b. 1973) 'Divide (Self portrait)' 2011 (installation view)

Sam Jinks (Australian, b. 1973) 'Divide (Self portrait)' 2011 (installation view)

 

Sam Jinks (Australian, b. 1973)
Divide (Self portrait) (installation views)
2011
Silicone, resin, horse hair
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
© Sam Jinks
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Sam Jinks developed a talent for drawing and constructing his ideas alongside his father, a Melbourne cabinetmaker. Jinks worked as an illustrator before turning to sculpture. He worked in film and television special effects before becoming a fabricator for artist Patricia Piccinini. For the last ten years he has sculpted independently, working in silicone, fibreglass, resin and hair – human, animal and synthetic.

 

Max Martin (Australian, 1889-1965) 'Portrait group' 1922

 

Max Martin (Australian, 1889-1965)
Portrait group
1922
Oil on canvas
152.8 x 102.2cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 1995
© Veronica Martin

 

Max Martin (Australian, 1889-1965) 'Portrait group' 1922 (installation view detail)

 

Max Martin (Australian, 1889-1965)
Portrait group (installation view detail)
1922
Oil on canvas
152.8 x 102.2cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 1995
© Veronica Martin
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Herbert Badham (Australian, 1899-1961) 'Self portrait with glove' 1939 (installation view)

 

Herbert Badham (Australian, 1899-1961)
Self portrait with glove (installation view)
1939
Oil on canvas board
Frame: 44.4 x 40.7cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 1999
© Estate of Herbert Badham
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Herbert Badham was an artist, writer and teacher who specialised in figures, urban life and beach scenes. Having studied for many years at the Julian Ashton School in the 1920s and 1930s, he produced a body of painting that typified the gentle, realist aspect of Sydney modernism of the prewar years. Head of the intermediate art department at East Sydney Tech from 1938 to 1961, he published the populist Study of Australian Art in 1949, and A Gallery of Australian Art in 1954. Badham’s work underwent a minor revival in the late 1980s, with a retrospective show held in Wollongong and Sydney, and three of his urban scenes were selected for the National Gallery’s Federation exhibition of 2001. Arguably the most interesting of several self-portraits of the artist, this painting was featured on the cover of the catalogue of the 1987 retrospective.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

 

Herbert Badham (Australian, 1899-1961) 'Self portrait with glove' 1939

 

Herbert Badham (Australian, 1899-1961)
Self portrait with glove
1939
Oil on canvas board
Frame: 44.4 x 40.7cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 1999
© Estate of Herbert Badham

 

Janet Dawson (Australian, b. 1935) 'Self Portrait' Between 1951 and 1953

 

Janet Dawson (Australian, b. 1935)
Self Portrait
Between 1951 and 1953
oil on cardboard
Frame: 57.0 x 47.5cm
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2000
© Janet Dawson/Copyright Agency, 2022

 

 

Janet Dawson (b. 1935) is best known for her contribution to abstract art in Australia. Following her family’s relocation from Forbes to Melbourne in the early 1940s, Dawson attended the private art school run by Harold Septimus Power. In 1951, aged sixteen, she enrolled at the National Gallery School and attended night classes with Sir William Dargie. Five years later, Dawson won a National Gallery of Victoria Travelling Scholarship and went to London, where she studied at the Slade School and the Central School. Returning to Melbourne in 1961, she held her first solo exhibition the same year and in 1963 set up an art school and workshop. Dawson was one of only three women included in the influential exhibition of Australian abstraction, The Field, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968. Her work is represented in all major public collections in Australia, and has been the subject of exhibitions at the NGV and the National Gallery of Australia.

Outside of her lyrical abstract work, Dawson always practised portraiture and won the Archibald Prize in 1973 with a portrait of her husband, the late writer, actor and playwright Michael Boddy. Painted during an evening class at the National Gallery School, this self portrait shows Dawson wearing an artist’s work shirt over her elegant day clothes, gazing confidently at the viewer.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, Lina Bryans’ The babe is wise (1940, below); at middle, Janet Cumbrae Stewart’s Portrait of Jessie C. A. Traill (1920, below); and at right, Evelyn Chapman’s Self portrait (1911, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Lina Bryans (Australian born Germany, 1909-2000) 'The babe is wise' 1940 (installation view)

 

Lina Bryans (Australian born Germany, 1909-2000)
The babe is wise (installation view)
1940
Oil on cardboard
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Miss Jean Campbell, 1962
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Lina Bryans was an important part of the modern movement and a member of literary and artistic circles in Melbourne during the late 1930s and 1940s. Her vibrant paintings are characterised by bold brushwork and the expressive use of colour. In 1937, Bryans began painting portraits of her friends. Her most famous work, The babe is wise, is a portrait of the writer Jean Campbell, who had recently published a novel of the same name.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Lina Bryans (Australian born Germany, 1909-2000) 'The babe is wise' 1940

 

Lina Bryans (Australian born Germany, 1909-2000)
The babe is wise
1940
Oil on cardboard
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Miss Jean Campbell, 1962

 

Janet Cumbrae Stewart (Australian, 1883-1960) 'Portrait of Jessie C. A. Traill' 1920

 

Janet Cumbrae Stewart (Australian, 1883-1960)
Portrait of Jessie C. A. Traill
1920
Pastel
Image and sheet: 55.5 × 45.4cm irreg.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Jessie Traill, 1961
© Courtesy of the copyright holder

 

 

Chiefly known for her use of pastel, Janet Cumbrae Stewart devoted the most significant part of her career to producing sensuous studies of the female nude and portraits of women. Her portrait of fellow artist Jessie Traill shows Traill in the dress uniform of a Queen Alexandra Imperial Nurse. Nursing was one of the few options open to women wanting to serve in the First World War. Traill, who was living in France, volunteered and was stationed in Rouen in Northern France for three and a half years. Cumbrae Stewart and Traill were friends, both having grown up in Brighton, Victoria, and attended the National Gallery School alongside one another in the early 1900s.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Evelyn Chapman (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Self portrait' 1911 (installation view)

 

Evelyn Chapman (Australian, 1888-1961)
Self portrait (installation view)
1911
Oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Pamela Thalben-Ball 2007
© Estate of Evelyn Chapman
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 Evelyn Chapman (Australian, 1888-1961) 'Self portrait' 1911

 

Evelyn Chapman (Australian, 1888-1961)
Self portrait
1911
Oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Pamela Thalben-Ball 2007
© Estate of Evelyn Chapman

 

 

Evelyn Chapman, artist, studied with Antonio Dattilo Rubbo in Sydney and travelled overseas to paint in Paris, where she exhibited at the Salon. A few weeks after the end of World War 1 she took up the opportunity to visit the battlefields of France with her father, who was attached to the New Zealand War Graves Commission. Thus, she became the first Australian female artist to depict the devastated battlefields, towns and churches of the western front. Chapman remained overseas with her father, an organist who played in Dieppe, Venice and elsewhere, and married a brilliant organist, George Thalben-Ball, herself. After she married, she gave up painting, but she encouraged her daughter, Pamela, to pursue art. For the rest of her life, Chapman lived in England, only returning to Australia for a visit in 1960. The Art Gallery of New South Wales has her 1911 portrait of Dattilo Rubbo and a number of her paintings of France, Belgium and England. The Australian War Memorial, too, has several of her evocative French scenes.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, William Yang’s Self Portrait #2 (2007, below); and at centre in case, Alan Constable’s earthenware cameras (see below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

William Yang (Australia b. 1943) 'Life Lines #3 – Self portrait #2 (1947)' 1947/2008

 

William Yang (Australian, b. 1943)
Self Portrait #2
2007
From the Self Portrait series
Inkjet print
Sheet: 84.0 x 50.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Ms Cora Trevarthen and Professor Andrew Reeves, 2013
© William Yang

 

 

William Yang shares childhood memories in this self-portrait. He recently reflected: ‘… I cal myself Australian, but I claim my Chinese heritage because that’s the way I look. Central to my art practice is my own story, which I tell in performances with projected images and music in theatres. My story is told against a backdrop of the times. This keys into my documentary-style photography. I have done a series of self-portraits of the same stories for exhibition in galleries. So my art and my life have become entwined and they both feed into each other. And I’ve come to terms with the way I look … It’s a great relief to feel comfortable in your own skin’.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, Alan Constable’s Green large format camera (2013, below); and at right Alan Constable’s Not titled (Black Mamiya large format camera) (2013, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956) 'Not titled (Green large format camera)' 2013

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956)
Not titled (Green large format camera)
2013
Earthenware
16.5 × 24.0 × 9.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Yvonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014
© Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956) 'Not titled (Black Mamiya large format camera)' 2013

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956)
Not titled (Black Mamiya large format camera)
2013
Earthenware
25.0 × 29.0 × 26.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Yvonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014
© Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956) 'Not titled (Box Brownie)' 2013

 

Alan Constable (Australian, b. 1956)
Not titled (Box Brownie)
2013
Earthenware
17.0 × 24.5 × 18.5cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Yvonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014
© Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

 

 

Alan Constable’s lifelong fascination with cameras began when he was just eight years old, as he sculpted the objects picture on cereal boxes. Legally blind, Constable’s sculptural practice sometimes extends to other optical objects, such as binoculars and video recorders. Constable’s method involves holding the camera millimetres from his eyes, as he scans and feels the object, before quickly rendering his impressions in clay. Constable has worked at Arts Project Australia since 1991 and held his first solo show in 2011. His works speak to the processes of seeing and looking, and self-reflexively capture the objects that capture the image.

Display case text from the exhibition

 

Christian Thompson. 'Othering the Explorer, James Cook' 2016

 

Christian Thompson (Australian / Bidjara, b. 1978)
Authoring the explorer, James Cook
2015, printed 2016
From the Museum of Others series 2015-2016
Type C photograph on metallic paper
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of an anonymous donor through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2017

 

 

‘Today, we are still conditioned by historical tropes such as the bust-style portraits of colonial men who had roles in furthering the position of colonial Britain at the height of the imperial pursuit for claiming new frontiers, at the expense of the Indigenous custodians of countries including Australia. However, as famous as these colonial figures still are, I try to demonstrate that it is never too late to pierce, subvert and re-stage the spectres of history to gain agency from the position of the other. Through the work, I am proposing: let us scrutinise your history, your identities, your flaws.’ ~ Christian Thompson, 2017

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture is one of the most comprehensive explorations of portraiture ever mounted in Australia and the first exhibition to bring together the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. The exhibition will be on display in Melbourne from 25 March to 21 August 2022 and Canberra from 1 October 2022 to 29 January 2023.

Revealing the rich artistic synergies and contrasts between the two institutions’ collections, this co-curated exhibition considers portraiture in Australia across time and media, as well as the role of the portraiture genre in the development of a sense of Australian national identity.

Featuring more than two-hundred works by Australian artists including Patricia Piccinini, Atong Atem, Howard Arkley, Vincent Namatjira and Tracey Moffatt, and featuring sitters including Cate Blanchett, Albert Namatjira, Queen Elizabeth II, Eddie Mabo and David Gulpilil, the exhibition explores our inner worlds and outer selves, as well as issues of sociability, intimacy, isolation, celebrity and ordinariness.

The exhibition also questions what actually constitutes portraiture by examining the surprising and sometimes unconventional ways of representing likeness, such as the abstract self-portrait by John Nixon and Boris Cipusev’s typographic portrait of Jeff from The Wiggles. Polixeni Papapetrou’s Magma Man, a photograph which merges sitter and landscape until the two are almost indecipherable, and Shirley Purdie’s multi-panelled evocation of biography and Country further challenge the conventions of the genre and touch upon the intimate connection between artist, sitter and land. Alongside these works, iconic self-portraits will also be displayed by artists including John Brack, Nora Heysen and William Yang.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: “This exhibition marks the first major partnership between the NGV and the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. By combining our respective portraiture collections and curatorial expertise in this area, we have been able to stage the largest thematic portraiture exhibition in the history of either institution. This presentation will no doubt offer audiences an unprecedented insight into the genre and its place in Australian art history.”

Karen Quinlan AM, Director, National Portrait Gallery, said: “The NPG is thrilled to work with the NGV on this extensive exploration of Australian portraiture. The exhibition comes at a time when, in the current global COVID environment, stories from home, about home, and the artists and identities who have shaped and continue to shape our nation are more compelling and important than ever. It is a privilege to be able to present our collection in conversation with the NGV’s and to explore the idea of Australian identity and its many layers and facets through the lens of portraiture.”

Presented across five thematic sections, the exhibition raises challenging and provocative questions about who we are and how we view others – historically, today and into the future. The exhibition opens by considering the connection between people and place, reflecting on the relationship between artists, sitters and the environment, as well as the personification of the natural world. Highlight works include a conceptual map depicting self and Country by Wawiriya Burton, Ngayaku Ngura (My Country) 2009, as well as the NGV’s recent acquisition Seven Sisters Song 2021 by Kaylene Whiskey, a painted road sign that is filled with personally significant, autobiographical references to pop culture.

A further section explores the artistic tradition of the self-portrait and portraits of artists, as well as how this convention has been subverted or challenged by contemporary artists working today. Works include Hari Ho’s Dadang Christanto 2005, which depicts the artist buried to the neck in sand, referencing the brutal killings of Indonesians in the failed military coup of September 1965, and Alan Constable’s Not titled (Green large format camera) 2013, personifying the act of photography with a hand modelled, ceramic camera.

Ideas of intimacy and alienation are juxtaposed through images of family and community presented alongside those of vulnerability and isolation. Works include Pat Larter’s Marty 1995, a graphic collage depicting a male sex worker, challenging the ease with which society consumes images of female nudity, and Naomi Hobson’s Warrior without a weapon 2019, a photographic series in which the artist challenges stereotypes about Indigenous men from her home community in Coen, by using flowers as a metaphor for male vulnerability.

The exhibition also explores portraiture’s surprising capacity to reveal the inner worlds and mindsets of both the sitter and the artist, as exemplified by Eric Thake’s satirical vignettes of figures in dream-like settings, and Hoda Afshar’s Remain 2018, a video exploring Australia’s controversial border protection policy and the human rights of those seeking asylum.

The final section of the exhibition interrogates Australian icons, identities and how we construct them. Works featured in this section include Michael Riley’s Maria 1986 and Polly Borland’s HM Queen Elizabeth II 2002, two works displayed side by side, drawing connections between archetypal imagery of royalty, with negative renderings of ‘otherness’ found in historical ethnographic portraiture.

WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture is presented by the NGV and the National Portrait Gallery and will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square from 25 March to 21 August 2022 and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra from 1 October 2022 to 29 January 2023.

WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture is generously supported by Major Partner, Deakin University.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria International

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at centre left, Bert Flugelman’s self portrait (1985, below). The legend of the artworks on the wall is below…
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bert Flugelman (Australian born Austria, 1923-2013, Australia from 1938) 'Self portrait' c. 1985

 

Bert Flugelman (Australian born Austria, 1923-2013, Australia from 1938)
Self portrait
c. 1985
Stainless steel
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2009
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Bert Flugelman/Copyright Agency, 2022

 

 

Herbert ‘Bert’ Flugelman, sculptor, painter and lecturer, came to Australia from his native Vienna in 1938, aged fifteen. In the late 1940s he trained at the National Art School; he travelled and studied overseas through the first half of the 1950s. In 1967 he won first prize at the Mildura Sculpture Triennial with a large cast-iron equestrian piece. His subsequent public commissions include the untitled copper and ceramic mosaic fountain at Bruce Hall at the Australian National University; Spheres 1977 (known locally as Bert’s Balls) for the Rundle Street Mall, Adelaide; and the Dobell Memorial 1978 for Martin Place, Sydney. Controversially, Tumbling cubes (Dice) (Untitled) 1978/1979, originally made for Cameron Offices in Belconnen ACT, was some years ago moved to a nearby park, according to the artist a ‘hopelessly inappropriate site’. Cones 1982 dominates the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Australia, and the Winged figure (Lawrence Hargrave memorial) 1988 towers 6m high at Mt Keira, near Wollongong. Flugelman taught from 1973 to 1983 at the South Australian School of Art, and from 1984 to 1990 at the University of Wollongong, from which he received an honorary doctorate. There was a retrospective exhibition of his five decades’ work at the Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University in 2009.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra website Nd [Online] Cited 23/06/2022

 

Lewis Morley (Hong Kong 125 - Australia 2013, England 1945-1971, Australia from 1971) 'Self portrait in reflection' 1973 (installation view)

 

Lewis Morley (Hong Kong 125 – Australia 2013, England 1945-1971, Australia from 1971)
Self portrait in reflection (installation view)
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2003
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Lewis Morley (Hong Kong 125 - Australia 2013, England 1945-1971, Australia from 1971) 'Self portrait in reflection' 1973

 

Lewis Morley (Hong Kong 125 – Australia 2013, England 1945-1971, Australia from 1971)
Self portrait in reflection
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2003
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Lewis Morley Archive LLC

 

 

Lewis Morley OAM (1925-2013), photographer, was born in Hong Kong and went to the United Kingdom with his family at the end of World War 2. He studied commercial art in London and spent time in Paris before taking up photography in 1954, initially working for magazines like Tatler, London Life and She. In 1961, he founded Lewis Morley Studios in Peter Cook’s London club, The Establishment. Here, he built his reputation with photographs of the celebrities that defined the hip spirit of London in the 1960s, among them Cook, Dudley Moore, Charlotte Rampling, Twiggy, Vanessa Redgrave and Jean Shrimpton. In 1963, Morley took one of the world’s most famous photographic portraits – that of Christine Keeler, short-term shared mistress of a British politician and a Soviet diplomat, naked on a Scandinavian chair. By 1971, Morley’s magazine and theatre work in London was petering out, and he emigrated to Australia, where, he said, ‘bingo! there was the sixties all over again’. Shooting increasingly in colour, Morley took many photographs for Dolly, POL, Belle and other publications that now afford an evocative record of changing Australian culture through the 1970s and 1980s. Many of Morley’s portraits from this era were shown in the National Portrait Gallery’s retrospective exhibition Lewis Morley: Myself and Eye in 2003. His work was also the subject of a major exhibitions staged by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1989-1990; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2006.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra website Nd [Online] Cited 23/06/2022

 

William Dargie (Australian, 1912-2003) 'Albert Namatjira' 1958 (installation view)

 

William Dargie (Australian, 1912-2003)
Albert Namatjira (installation view)
1958
Oil on canvas laid on composition board
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds donated by Marilyn Darling AC and the assistance of Philip Bacon Galleries 2000
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Albert Namatjira was a descendant of the Western Arrant people of the Northern Territory. Inspired by the spectacular landforms and vivid colours around his home at the Hermannsuburg Mission in the 1930s, Namatjira fused Western-influenced style of watercolour with unique expressions of traditional sites and sacred knowledge. Sir William Dargie CBE described Namatjira as having ‘tremendous inner dignity’ and within this portrait, he located Namatjira in his country in the MacDonnell Ranges. Holding one of his own landscapes, the portrait represents the intrinsic connection between the artist’s painting and identity. Namatjira was, and still is, an important presence in Australian art and a leading figure in the development of Aboriginal rights.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

William Dargie (Australian, 1912-2003) 'Albert Namatjira' 1958 (installation view detail)

 

William Dargie (Australian, 1912-2003)
Albert Namatjira (installation view detail)
1958
Oil on canvas laid on composition board
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds donated by Marilyn Darling AC and the assistance of Philip Bacon Galleries 2000
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Rennie Ellis (Australian, 1940-2003) 'Sharpies, Melbourne' 1973

 

Rennie Ellis (Australian, 1940-2003)
Sharpies, Melbourne
1973, printed c. 1977-1978
Gelatin silver print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2006

 

 

‘Rather than capturing the subjects unawares I have encouraged them to pause, and even pose, from the camera. In this way they have an opportunity to communicate directly with me and to project whatever image they believe suits them best.’ ~ Rennie Ellis

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992) 'Hera Roberts' 1936 (installation view)

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Hera Roberts (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver photograph
23.6 cm x 21.4cm
Gift of Rex Dupain 2003
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992) 'Hera Roberts' 1936

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Hera Roberts
1936
Gelatin silver photograph
23.6 cm x 21.4cm
Gift of Rex Dupain 2003
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program

 

 

Hera Roberts (life dates unknown) was a painter, illustrator, designer, commercial artist and milliner. During the 1920s and 30s she produced many covers for the Home magazine, and arranged photo spreads for the magazine promoting fashionable interiors and furniture. She designed a complete room for the Burdekin House exhibition of 1929, including furniture, and also designed furniture for her companion Sydney Ure Smith. Roberts was regarded as an authoritative commentator on matters of style. She was the student and cousin of the artist Thea Proctor, who was also part of the network of ‘lady artists’ who were able to make their careers in interior decorating and taste arbitration. Co-owner of a millinery shop in Pitt Street called ‘June’, Roberts was also one of the finest female fencers in the Southern Hemisphere, operating out of the Sydney Swords Club.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra website Nd [Online] Cited 23/06/2022

 

Trevor Turbo Brown (Australian / Latje Latje, 1967-2017) 'Self-portrait, 'I am the Dingo Spirit'' 2015 (installation view)

 

Trevor Turbo Brown (Australian / Latje Latje, 1967-2017)
Self-portrait, ‘I am the Dingo Spirit’ (installation view)
2015
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Trevor Turbo Brown, or ‘Turbo’ as he was known, was born in Mildura and grew up on Latje Latje Country. In 1981, Turbo moved to Melbourne were he became a celebrity in the Koori community. He trained as a boxer at the Fitzroy Stars Gym from 1986 to 1991 and would do breakdance street performances throughout Melbourne during the 1980s and 1990s. It was here that he got his nickname. Turbo was a regular character on the streets of Brunswick before he passed away in 2017. In this self-portrait Turbo impinges himself as a dingo, wild and free in the night.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Trevor Turbo Brown (Australian / Latje Latje, b. 1967) Self-portrait, 'I am the Dingo Spirit' 2015

 

Trevor Turbo Brown (Australian / Latje Latje, b. 1967)
Self-portrait, ‘I am the Dingo Spirit’
2015
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
122.3 x 102.2cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Vince Sinni in memory of Trevor Turbo Brown through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2018
© the artist’s estate

 

John Brack. 'Self-portrait' 1955

 

John Brack (Australian, 1920-1999)
Self-portrait
1955
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery Women’s Association, 2000

 

 

John Brack created images that explore the social rituals and realities of everyday living. Rendered in a subtle but complex colour scheme, with its subject stripped of vanity and dressed in early-morning attire, Self-portrait is a piercing study of a man engaged in the intimacy of shaving. Although images of women at their toilette have been recently depicted by both male and female Australian artists, it is unusual for men to be shown or to show themselves in this context.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne with second from left, Michael Cook’s Tunnel No. 2 (2014, below); at third from left, Ron Mueck’s Two Women (2005, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Michael Cook (Australian / Bidjara, b. 1968) 'Tunnel No. 2' 2014 (installation view)

 

Michael Cook (Australian / Bidjara, b. 1968)
Tunnel No. 2 (installation view)
2014
From the series Majority Rule
Inkjet print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Ybonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

‘In Majority Rule I created staged scenarios that question Australian history and the dominance of those in power. The series features the same anonymous Indigenous Man, multiplied over and over in each image. Australia’s Indigenous population comprises around three or four percent of our total population. My images seek to defy this reality and ask the viewer to speculate about an Australia where Aboriginal people constitute the majority of the country’s population; they paint a picture of a societal structure reversed … The works also serve as reminders fo the lack of Indigenous representation within Parliament, the judicial system and the business world.’ ~ Michael Cook, 2017

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Michael Cook (Australian / Bidjara, b. 1968) 'Tunnel No. 2' 2014

 

Michael Cook (Australian / Bidjara, b. 1968)
Tunnel No. 2
2014
From the series Majority Rule
Inkjet print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Ybonne Pettengell Bequest, 2014
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Ron Mueck. 'Two woman' 2005

 

Ron Mueck (Australian born England, b. 1958)
Two women
2005
Polyester resin, fibreglass, silicone, polyurethane, aluminium, wire, steel, cotton, nylon, synthetic hair, plastic, metal
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2007

 

Ron Mueck. 'Two woman' 2005 (detail)

 

Ron Mueck (Australian born England, b. 1958)
Two women (detail)
2005
Polyester resin, fibreglass, silicone, polyurethane, aluminium, wire, steel, cotton, nylon, synthetic hair, plastic, metal
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2007

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, Pierre Mukeba’s Impartiality (2018, below); at second right, William Frater’s Reclining nude (c. 1933, below); and at right, Pat Larter’s Marty (1995, below)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Pierre Mukeba (Australian born Democratic Republic of the Congo, b. 1995, Australia from 2006) 'Impartiality' 2018

 

Pierre Mukeba (Australian born Democratic Republic of the Congo, b. 1995, Australia from 2006)
Impartiality
2018
Fibre-tipped pen and printed fabric on cotton
245.0 × 270.0cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Anne Ross, 2018
© Pierre Mukeba, courtesy of GAGPROJECTS

 

 

Pierre Mukeba was a child when he fled with his family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zambia, where they lived in a refugee camp before joining family in Zimbabwe. Following the Mugabe regime’s arrest order for non-nationals, the family applied for asylum through the Australian Embassy and relocated to Adelaide in 2006. In this work, Mukeba uses patterned Dutch wax print fabrics commonly perceived as being ‘African’, while in reality, they were appropriated from traditional Javanese bark by Dutch colonisers in the nineteenth century, mass produced in Europe and exported to Africa. This painting is part of a group of works by Mukeba, in which he draws on sociocultural standards of beauty and representations of his community.

Wall text rom the exhibition

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974, Australia from 1913) 'Reclining nude' c. 1933 (installation view)

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974, Australia from 1913)
Reclining nude (installation view)
c. 1933
Oil on canvas on cardboard
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1950
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974, Australia from 1913) 'Reclining nude' c. 1933 (installation view detail)

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974, Australia from 1913)
Reclining nude (installation view detail)
c. 1933
Oil on canvas on cardboard
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1950
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974) 'The artist's wife' 1915

 

William Frater (Australian born Scotland, 1890-1974)
The artist’s wife
1915
Oil on canvas on plywood
47.0 x 32.9cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Joseph Brown Collection
Presented through the NGV Foundation by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2004

 

Pat Larter (Australian born England, 1936-1996, Australia from 1962) 'Marty' 1995 (installation view)

 

Pat Larter (Australian born England, 1936-1996, Australia from 1962)
Marty (installation view)
1995
Coloured inks, synthetic polymer paint, plastic, glitter and self-adhesive plastic collage on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1997
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Throughout her career, Pat Larter produced performance art, photography and multimedia images that focus on the consumption of the naked body throughout the media. Often adapting pornographic images to encourage debate on art, the body and censorship, Larter actively looked to challenge society’s ideas of the nude by producing striking, and sometimes humorous images. Marty is part of a series for which Larter visited Sydney’s brothels to photograph male sex workers. By showing the model in a full frontal, active position, Larter reflects on the double standards of how society consumes nudity in art. Images of naked women are viewed with ease, while depictions of naked men cause shock and often outrage.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture' at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition WHO ARE YOU: Australian Portraiture at NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne showing at left, John Longstaff’s The young mother (1891, below); at centre Patricia Piccinini’s Nest (2006); at second right, a group of four photographs one by each of Jack Cato, Virginie Grange, Olive Cotton and Athol Shmith (see below); and at right Pierre Mukeba’s Impartiality (2018, above)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

John Longstaff (Australian, 1861-1941, France and England 1887-1895, England 1901-1920) 'The young mother' 1891 (installation view)

 

John Longstaff (Australian, 1861-1941, France and England 1887-1895, England 1901-1920)
The young mother (installation view)
1891
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the NGV Women’s Association, Alan and Mavourneen Cowen, Paula Fox, Ken and Jill Harrison and donors to the John Longstaff Appeal, 2013
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

A gifted student, John Longstaff was awarded the National Gallery School’s inaugural travelling scholarship in 1887. Longstaff and Rosa Louisa (Topsy) Crocker married two months before departing to London in September 1887. An intimate depiction of motherhood, The young mother shows Topsy tenderly waving a palm fan over the outstretched arms of her son, Ralph, who was born in 1890. Topsy appears pale and slim after a long winter spent in their one-room apartment, divided by a curtain into sleeping and eating quarters. The subject of the mother and child has its origins in the depiction of the biblical Madonna and Child, and continued to be a popular subject for nineteenth-century artists recoding their personal and secular experiences with tenderness and conviction.

Wall text rom the exhibition

 

John Longstaff (Australian, 1861-1941, France and England 1887-1895, England 1901-1920) 'The young mother' 1891 (installation view detail)

 

John Longstaff (Australian, 1861-1941, France and England 1887-1895, England 1901-1920)
The young mother (installation view detail)
1891
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the NGV Women’s Association, Alan and Mavourneen Cowen, Paula Fox, Ken and Jill Harrison and donors to the John Longstaff Appeal, 2013
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'Nest' 2006 (installation view)