Posts Tagged ‘David Hockney

24
Sep
17

Review: ‘Queer British Art 1861-1967’ at Tate Britain, London

Exhibition dates: 5th April – 1st October 2017

Curators: Clare Barlow, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain with Amy Concannon, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain

 

 

Queer British Art book cover

 

Queer British Art 1861-1967 book cover

 

 

Very Pauline

Queer British Art 1861-1967 at Tate Britain examines the “historical reality of same-sex relationships and non-normative sexual identities” from 1861, the year for the end of the death penalty for sodomy in Great Britain, through to 1967 which is when sex between consenting adults in private, obviously male homosexuality is partially decriminalised in England and Wales. The timescale of the exhibition encompasses the beginning of a more considered understanding of gender and sexual identity through to the beginnings of a limited freedom: from repression to liberation.

For a man who came out in London in 1975, only 8 short years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality, this exhibition should have been more engaging than it was. While there were some outstanding art works and artefacts presented in the eight rooms of the exhibition, chronologically laid out in the posting below – such as the prison door from Oscar Wilde’s cell at Reading Gaol, Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell’s book covers, the paintings of Henry Scott Tuke and the photography of Angus McBean – there was little of the passion of being gay in evidence in much of the objects, or how they were presented. It all seemed so very academic, and not in a good way. Other than some stunning erotic drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, Duncan Grant and Keith Vaughan (see below) there was little to suggest that being gay had anything to do with sex, the exhibition living up to that very British of axiom’s, “No sex please, we’re British!” The curators may have thought that sex would be a distraction, for it was all ‘very Pauline’.

The exhibition is full of innuendo, supposition, obfuscation, abstinence, hints, traces, clouded desires and supposed longings – in both the art work and the wall texts which accompanied the work. Of course, this is how artists had to hide their sexuality, same-sex desires and relationships during much of this period for fear of ostracisation from society and possible prosecution, but the presentation came across as little more than “au fait”, so much matter of fact. The exhibition was not helped by illuminating texts such as this: “The exact nature of Thomas and Philpot’s relationship is unknown. Many of Philpot’s depictions of Thomas carry a homoerotic charge and some are exoticising. What Thomas felt about his years with Philpot from 1929 to the artist’s death in 1937 is unknown.” Ugh!

You might as well have said nothing, and let the art work speak for itself.

Other commentaries could have done with a more insightful enunciation of the circumstances of the particular artist, in addition to text on the specific art work. A perceptive anointing of their life would have added invaluably to the frisson of the exhibition. For example, I wanted to know why the painter Christopher Wood died at the young age of 29 as well as the specifics of his painting Nude Boy in a Bedroom (1930, below). According to Wikipedia, Wood – bisexual, addicted to opium and painting frenetically in preparation for his Wertheim exhibition in London – became psychotic and jumped under a train at Salisbury railway station. These are the things that you need to know if you are to fully appreciate the gravitas of a life and a person’s relationship to their art, don’t you think?

Further, no pictures were allowed in the gallery spaces. Whereas I could take photographs of the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at the same venue to my heart’s content (even after being confronted by a guard who said I couldn’t, who was then corrected by a colleague with no apology for his attitude to me), I had to play a Machiavellian game of cunning hide and seek with guards and attendants to get the installation photographs of this exhibition. Why was this so? It almost seemed to be a case of the gallery being ashamed of the art they were exhibiting, as though the attitudes of the past towards art that explores same-sex relationships was being replicated by the duplicity of the gallery itself: the art could be seen but not heard, hidden away in the bowls of an academic institution. I also noted that one of 19 collages that Kenneth Halliwell exhibited at the Anno Domino gallery in 1967 (see below) was purchased by the Tate in 2016. Considering “the exhibition was a failure and Halliwell’s professional frustration contributed to the breakdown of his relationship with Orton,” eventuating the murder of the playwright and his own suicide… for some of those very same works to now reside at the Tate is the ultimate irony. I doubt Halliwell would have been laughing in his grave.

The stand out works in this exhibition were by Duncan Grant and Keith Vaughan. Their work explores the strength and beauty of the male form with a vitality of purpose and harmony of composition that was succinct and illuminating for this viewer. Grant’s Bathing (1911, below) ascribes anthropomorphic qualities to distorted figures whose elongated arms, distended chests and exposed buttocks would have been shocking to the people of Belle Epoque Britain. His erotic drawings (below) were the most beautiful, sensitive and sensual art works in the whole exhibition. Vaughan’s simplification of the figuration of the male form into abstract shapes, whilst still retaining the enigma of sensuality, narrative and context, are the triumph of this inverts painting. Their patterning and displacement of time and space onto an intimate other – a copious, coital realm of existence full of feeling, information and matter – were a revelation to me.

While the exhibition enunciates a remarkable range of identities and stories, from the playful to the political and from the erotic to the domestic, it was a deflating experience. I came away thankful that I had seen the work, that the artist’s had been able to express themselves however surreptitiously, but angry that so much of the world still sees LGBTQI people as second class citizens whose art work has to be examined through the prism of sexuality, rather than on the quality of the work itself.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

PS. How you can classify Claude Cahun as a British artist I will never know: she lived on the Channel Islands for a few years, but she was the very epitome of a French artist!

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Many thankx to Tate Britain for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. All installation images are © Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Featuring works from 1861-1967 relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) identities, the show marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England. Queer British Art explores how artists expressed themselves in a time when established assumptions about gender and sexuality were being questioned and transformed.

Deeply personal and intimate works are presented alongside pieces aimed at a wider public, which helped to forge a sense of community when modern terminology of ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘trans’ were unrecognised. Together, they reveal a remarkable range of identities and stories, from the playful to the political and from the erotic to the domestic. With paintings, drawings, personal photographs and film from artists such as John Singer Sargent, Dora Carrington, Duncan Grant and David Hockney the diversity of queer British art is celebrated as never before.

 

 

“Much more fucking and they’ll be screaming hysterics in next to no time.”

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Joe Orton

 

“For me, to use the word ‘queer’ is a liberation; it was a word that frightened me, but no longer.”

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Derek Jarman

 

“It’s really interesting as to whether or not we should be concerned with the sexuality of an artist when we consider the merits of his artwork, because really what he does behind closed doors – or she does – has nothing to do, or shouldn’t have anything to do with the impact of the artwork as we see it. But what is important is the artist can use that material of their personal life and create a work that is almost a personal diary but visually.”

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Estelle Lovatt

 

 

 

 

100 years of gay art history, from repression to liberation

On the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the Tate Britain gallery is launching a major exhibition exploring Queer British Art. The new exhibition showcases 100 years of art and artists from the repression of the Victorian era through to the love and lust of 1960s Soho.

 

Room 1: Coded Desires

In spite of the Victorian era’s prudish reputation, there are many possible traces of transgressive desire in its art – in Frederic Leighton’s sensuous male nudes, for instance, or Evelyn De Morgan’s depictions of Jane Hales. Simeon Solomon attracted sustained criticisms of ‘unwholesomeness’ or ‘effeminacy’ – terms which suggest disapproval of alternative forms of masculinity as much as same sex desire. Yet other works which might look queer to us passed without comment.

The death penalty for sodomy was abolished in 1861 but it was still punishable with imprisonment. Sex between women was not illegal and society sometimes tolerated such relationships. Yet for most people, there seems to have been little sense that certain sexual practices or forms of gender expression reflected a core aspect of the self. Instead, this was a world of fluid possibilities.

These ambiguities offered scope for artists to produce work that was open to homoerotic interpretation. Queer subcultures developed: new scholarship on same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy and ancient Greece allowed artists to use these civilisations as reference points, while the beautiful youths in Wilhelm von Gloeden’s photographs attracted communities of collectors. As long as there was no public suggestion that artists had acted on their desires, there was much that could be explored and expressed.

 

Installation view of Room 1 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

Installation view of Room 1 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation views of Room 1 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain with Frederic Leighton’s The Sluggard (1885, bronze) in the middle of the room
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) 'Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene' 1864

 

Simeon Solomon (British, 1840-1905)
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
1864
Watercolour on paper
330 x 381mm
Tate. Purchased 1980

 

 

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene is a touching image of female love. The piece is inspired by fragmented poems written by a woman named Sappho in the 4th century BC, in which she pleads that Aphrodite help her in her same-sex relationship. The term ‘lesbian’ derives directly from this poet, as her homeland was the Greek Island of Lesbos. Sappho’s story points to a longer history of same-sex desire. It’s perhaps for this reason that Simeon Solomon, a man who was attracted to men in defiance of the law, painted her. While a depiction of two men kissing would have been completely taboo, this is a passionate depiction of same-sex desire.

Solomon’s own sexual preferences eventually lead to his incarceration. When he was released from prison he was rejected by many of his acquaintances, struggled to find work and soon became homeless; a painful reminder of our repressive past.

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This strikingly frank image shows the ancient Greek poet Sappho in a passionate embrace with her fellow poet Erinna. Sappho is associated with the Island of Lesbos and her story gives us the word ‘lesbian’. There was a surge of interest in Sappho’s achievements and desires from the 1840s onwards. Solomon may be responding to his friend Algernon Charles Swinburne’s poem Anactoria which includes Erinna amongst Sappho’s lovers. While female same-sex desire was considered more acceptable than its male equivalent, Solomon’s depiction of Sappho’s fervent kiss and Erinna’s swooning response is unusually explicit and the image was not publicly exhibited.

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Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) 'The Bride, Bridegroom and Sad Love' 1865

 

Simeon Solomon (British, 1840-1905)
The Bride, Bridegroom and Sad Love
1865
Ink on paper
Victoria and Albert Museum

 

 

This work was inspired by a passage from the Gospel of St John which tells how ‘the friend of the bridegroom… rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice’. In Solomon’s drawing, the friend of the bridegroom has the wings of love but his downcast expression identifies him as ‘sad love’, forever excluded. The positioning of his and the bridegroom’s hands hints at the reason for his grief, implying that that they are former sexual partners. He is forced to look on as his lover enters a heterosexual marriage: a fate shared by many men in same-sex relationships in this period.

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Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) 'Bacchus' 1867

 

Simeon Solomon (British, 1840-1905)
Bacchus
1867
Oil paint on paper on canvas
Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council

 

 

The classical god of wine, Bacchus also embodies sexual ambiguity and gender fluidity. While grapes and vine leaves identify the god in Solomon’s painting, Bacchus’s full lips, luxuriant hair and enigmatic gaze hint at his elusive sexuality. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867, the critic of The Art Journal thought the figure looked effeminate, commenting ‘Bacchus is a sentimentalist of rather weak constitution; he drinks mead, possibly sugar and water, certainly not wine’. Solomon’s friend, critic Walter Pater wrote a favourable essay about the painting and poet Algernon Charles Swinburne said he found in Solomon and Bacchus alike, ‘the stamp of sorrow; of perplexities unsolved and desires unsatisfied’.

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Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) 'The Moon and Sleep' 1894

 

Simeon Solomon (British, 1840-1905)
The Moon and Sleep
1894
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Presented by Miss Margery Abrahams in memory of Dr Bertram L. Abrahams and Jane Abrahams 1973

 

 

Made a few years after Solomon’s arrest and social ostracisation, this painting depicts the love of the moon goddess Selene for Endymion, who, in one version of the myth, is given eternal youth and eternal sleep by Zeus. While it ostensibly depicts a heterosexual pairing, the striking similarity of the profiles of the figures in Solomon’s painting gives them both an air of androgyny. This painting was given to Tate by a descendent of Rachel Simmons, Solomon’s first cousin, who helped to support him after his fall from public favour by regularly buying his works for small sums of money.

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Photographer unknown. 'John Addington Symonds' (installation view) c. 1850s

 

Photographer unknown
John Addington Symonds (installation view)
c. 1850s
Photograph, tinted collodion on paper

 

 

John Addington Symonds was a writer, critic and an early campaigner for greater tolerance of same-sex desire. This photograph probably dates from Symonds’s time at Oxford University (1858-1863). His studies informed his later essay, A Problem in Greek Ethics 1873, one of the earliest attempts at a history of male same-sex desire. Symonds frankly discussed his desires in his diaries and unpublished writings, which he believed would be ‘useful to society’. However, when his friend Edmund Gosse inherited Symonds’s papers in 1926, he burned them all apart from Symonds’s autobiography. This destruction nauseated Symonds’s granddaughter Janet Vaughan. It was not until 1984 that Symonds’s autobiography was finally published.

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Sidney Harold Meteyard (1868-1947) 'Hope Comforting Love in Bondage' Exhibited 1901

 

Sidney Harold Meteyard (English, 1868-1947)
Hope Comforting Love in Bondage
Exhibited 1901
Oil paint on canvas
Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council

 

 

Hope is depicted as a respectably fully-clothed matron, whereas Love’s only costume is his elaborate cloth bindings and the rose briars that are delicately threaded through the feathers of his wings. The flowers and thorns of the roses hint at pleasures and pains combined. Love’s pensive expression and androgynous beauty is reminiscent of the work of Simeon Solomon and, while Hope stretches out her hand to comfort him, his gaze is fixed elsewhere, leaving the object of his affections undefined.

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Installation view of Frederic Leighton's 'Daedalus and Icarus' 1896

 

Installation view of Frederic Leighton’s Daedalus and Icarus 1896 from the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) 'Daedalus and Icarus' Exhibited 1869

 

Frederic Leighton (British, 1830-1896)
Daedalus and Icarus
Exhibited 1869
Oil paint on canvas
Private collection

 

 

In a story from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Daedalus made wings for his son Icarus to escape from Rhodes. Icarus’s golden beauty is here contrasted with his weather-beaten father. When the work was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1869, The Times anxiously remarked that Icarus had the air of ‘a maiden rather than a youth’ and exhibited ‘the soft rounded contour of a feminine breast’. This response may reflect increasing concern amongst educated circles about the pairings of older men and adolescent youths in books such as Plato’s Symposium, as new scholarship explored the eroticism of the original texts.

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Installation view of Henry Scott Tuke's 'A Bathing Group' 1914

 

Installation view of Henry Scott Tuke’s A Bathing Group 1914 from the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) 'A Bathing Group' 1914

 

Henry Scott Tuke (English, 1858-1929)
A Bathing Group
1914
Oil paint on canvas
Lent by the Royal Academy of Arts, London

 

 

While Henry Scott Tuke used the professional model Nicola Lucciani for this painting, it is similar to his images of Cornish youths in its frank appreciation of the male nude. Lucciani’s torso is illuminated by a shaft of sunlight and he looks towards the second figure, who crouches as if in awe of his godlike beauty. Tuke presented the painting to the Royal Academy on his election as a member. Tuke used professional models when he first moved to Cornwall, but he soon befriended some of the local fishermen and swimmers in Falmouth who modelled for him in many paintings.

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Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) 'The Critics' 1927

 

Henry Scott Tuke (English, 1858-1929)
The Critics
1927
Oil paint on board
Courtesy of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum (Warwick District Council)

 

 

Made just two years before Tuke’s death, The Critics is one of a number of works by Henry Scott Tuke depicting young men bathing off the Cornish coast. There has been much speculation about his relationships with his Cornish models although nothing has been substantiated. It is, however, not difficult to find a homoerotic undercurrent in this painting, as the two men on the shore appraise the swimming technique – and possibly the physique – of the youth in the water. Writer John Addington Symonds was a frequent visitor and he encouraged Tuke in his painting of male nudes in a natural outdoor setting.

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Room 2: Public Indecency

This room looks at ways in which sexuality and gender identity did – and did not – go public, from the 1880s to the 1920s. Public debate over sexuality and gender identity was stirred up by scandals, campaigns and scientific studies. The trials of Oscar Wilde in 1895 for gross indecency and Radclyffe Hall’s novel The Well of Loneliness in 1928 for supposed obscenity put a spotlight on same-sex desire. In the field of science, the project of classifying sexual practices and forms of gender presentation into distinct identities, which had been begun by German psychiatrists such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing, reached Britain through the work of Havelock Ellis who co-authored his book Sexual Inversion 1896 with John Addington Symonds. However, change was slow, and many people remained unaware of new terminologies and approaches to the self that this new science offered.

 

Installation view of Henry Bishop's 'Henry Havelock Ellis' 1890s

 

Installation view of Henry Bishop’s Henry Havelock Ellis from the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Henry Bishop (1868-1939) 'Henry Havelock Ellis' 1890s

 

Henry Bishop (British, 1868-1939)
Henry Havelock Ellis
1890s
Oil paint on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London. Bequeathed by François Lafitte, 2003

 

 

The sexologist Henry Havelock Ellis’s great work Sexual Inversion, co-authored with John Addington Symonds, defined queer sexualities in Britain for a generation. Published in English in 1897, it drew on the experiences of people such as Edward Carpenter (whose portrait hangs nearby). It was effectively banned in Britain after the prosecution of a bookseller, George Bedborough. This informal portrait was probably made around the time of Bedborough’s trial. It depicts Ellis sitting in a deckchair in Henry Bishop’s studio in St Ives. There is some evidence Bishop was attracted to men and Ellis’s non-judgemental attitudes may have encouraged Bishop to make his acquaintance. He became a lifelong friend.

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Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) 'Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon as Medieval Saints' 1920

 

Edmund Dulac (British born France, 1882-1953)
Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon as Medieval Saints
1920
Tempera on linen over board
The Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

 

 

Oscar Wilde described the home of the artist and designer Charles Ricketts and his lifelong partner the painter Charles Shannon as ‘the one house in London where you will never be bored’. Here, the couple are playfully depicted by their friend Edmund Dulac in the robes of Dominican friars. These robes possibly hint at the permanence of their bond: monastic vows were, after all, intended to mark entry for life into an all-male community. The peacock feather in Rickett’s hand signals their devotion to aestheticism, an art movement dedicated to beauty and ‘art for art’s sake’. By the 1920s, this was an emblem of a previous era.

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Charles Buchel (1872-1950) 'Radclyffe Hall' (installation view) 1918

 

Charles Buchel (British, 1872-1950)
Radclyffe Hall (installation view)
1918
Oil paint on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Una Elena Vincenzo (née Taylor), Lady Troubridge, 1963
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Born ‘Marguerite’ Radclyffe Hall and known as ‘John’ to close friends, Radclyffe Hall was a key figure in provoking debate on female same-sex desire. This portrait was made ten years before Hall found fame as the author of The Well of Loneliness 1928. Despite the pleas of literary figures, including Virginia Woolf, this novel was effectively banned on the grounds of obscenity for its frank depiction of female same-sex desire. It was semi-autobiographical and was influenced by Havelock Ellis’s Sexual Inversion. Hall’s sober jacket, skirt, cravat and monocle in this image reflected contemporary female fashions for a more masculine style of dress. After the trial, Hall’s clothes and cropped hair became associated with lesbianism and this portrait has become a queer icon. It was given to the National Portrait Gallery by Hall’s lover, Una Troubridge.

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Installation view of Room 2 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

Installation view of Room 2 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation views of Room 2 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain with Oscar Wilde’s Prison Door c. 1883
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This is the door of Oscar Wilde’s prison cell at Reading Gaol. Wilde spent three months of his incarceration writing a tortured letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas. This was later published as De Profundis (‘from the depths’). Wilde was not allowed to send the letter, although the manuscript was given back to him when he left prison. He told his friend Robert Ross, ‘I know that on the day of my release I will merely be moving from one prison into another, and there are times when the whole world seems to be no larger than my cell, and as full of terror for me’.

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Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington. 'Oscar Wilde' c. 1881 (installation view)

 

Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington (American, 1854-1920)
Oscar Wilde (installation view)
c. 1881
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, Los Angeles, California
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The American artist Harper Pennington gave this portrait to Wilde and his wife Constance as a wedding present in 1884. It captures Wilde as a young man aged 27, on the cusp of success and it hung in Wilde’s home in Tite Street, Chelsea, London. While awaiting trial, Wilde was declared bankrupt and all his possessions, including this portrait, were sold at public auction to pay his debts. Few objects from his extensive collection have been traced. This painting was bought by Wilde’s friend Ada Leverson and it was kept in storage. Wilde told a friend that Ada’s husband ‘could not have it in his drawing-room as it was obviously, on account of its subject, demoralising to young men, and possibly to young women of advanced views’.

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Aubrey Beardsley (British, 1872-1898) 'Enter Herodias' 1893

 

Aubrey Beardsley (English, 1872-1898)
Enter Herodias from ‘Salome’ by Oscar Wilde
1890s
Photo-process print on paper
Victoria and Albert Museum

 

 

Here Herodias, Salome’s mother makes a dramatic entrance, bare-breasted and positioned at the centre of the composition. The grotesque figure on the left plucks at her cloak, his robe barely concealing his giant phallus, while the slender page appears notably unmoved. They seem to epitomise two forms of masculinity: the grotesquely heterosexual and the elegantly ambiguous. Oscar Wilde is satirised as the showman-like jester in the foreground.

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Cecil Beaton. 'Cecil Beaton and his Friends' 1927

 

Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980)
Cecil Beaton and his Friends
1927
Photograph, bromide print on paper
National Portrait Gallery, London. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1991

 

 

This photograph was taken at Wilsford Manor in Wiltshire, Stephen Tennant’s childhood home. The party depicted here includes Tennant, artist Rex Whistler, society hostess Zita Jungman and Beaton himself, although their elaborate fancy dress and make-up makes it hard to tell them apart. The poet Siegfried Sassoon, Tennant’s lover at this time, wrote in his diary, ‘It was very amusing, and they were painted up to the eyes, but I didn’t quite like it’.

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Room 3: Theatrical Types

The use of ‘theatrical’ as a euphemism for queer hints at the rich culture on the late nineteenth and early twentieth century stage. The extent to which audiences were aware of this varied. Music hall male and female ‘impersonation acts’ were wildly popular but were mostly seen as innocent ‘family fun’. In the formal theatre, plays for public production had to be passed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office. While some directors found ways to avoid censorship, there were few positive and explicit depictions of queer lives and experience. Many celebrities who were in same-sex relationships understandably tried to keep their lives from public view, although their desires were often open secrets. Nevertheless, whether as the subject of a moralistic ‘problem’ play or an innuendo in a saucy song, queer perspectives could find public expression on the stage.

 

Installation view of Room 3 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation view of Room 3 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Unknown photographer, published by The Philco Publishing Company. 'Hetty King (Winifred Ems)' 1910s

 

Unknown photographer, published by The Philco Publishing Company
Hetty King (Winifred Ems)
1910s
National Portrait Gallery

 

 

Angus McBean

Angus McBean’s career was forged in the theatre. Success came in 1936 with his photographs of Max Beerbohm’s The Happy Hypocrite 1896, starring Ivor Novello. In a break with convention, McBean’s close-up images were well lit with studio lights and staged as intimate tableaux. Inspired by the International Surrealist exhibitions of 1936 and 1937, he began to make playful ‘surrealised portraits’, which were initially published in The Sketch. These used complex props and staging to create fantastical scenes and to give the illusion of distorted scale.

The images here all depict sitters who were in same-sex relationships. McBean’s own relationships with men led to a police raid on his house and his arrest in 1942 for criminal acts of homosexuality. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail but was released in 1944 and quickly reestablished his reputation as a photographer.

 

Angus McBean (1904-1990) 'Sir Robert Murray Helpmann' 1950

 

Angus McBean (Welsh, 1904-1990)
Sir Robert Murray Helpmann
1950
Photograph, bromide print on paper
© Estate of Angus McBean / National Portrait Gallery, London

 

 

McBean’s portrait of Robert Helpmann, published in The Tatler and Bystander on 28 April 1948, shows him in the role of Hamlet, which he was then playing at Stratford-upon-Avon. The production was designed to be Victorian gothic: an Elsinore of guttering candles and chiaroscuro lighting effects. There is perhaps some suggestion of this in the heavy shadows of McBean’s photograph, while Helpmann’s dramatic make-up emphasises his melancholic expression. The backdrop was created from a blown-up photograph of text from the First Folio of the play. In defiance of the law, Helpmann lived comparatively openly with his partner, the theatre director Michael Benthall. Their relationship lasted from 1938 until Benthall’s death, in 1974.

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Angus McBean (1904-1990) 'Danny La Rue' 1968

 

Angus McBean (Welsh, 1904-1990)
Danny La Rue
1968
Photograph, bromide print on paper
National Portrait Gallery, London

 

 

Born Danny Carroll, Danny La Rue was one of the greatest stars in female impersonation. La Rue first performed while in the navy during the Second World War and later toured with all male revues such as Forces in Petticoats before becoming a cabaret star. La Rue’s glamorous appearance on stage, captured here, was undercut by the gruff ‘wotcher mates’, with which he opened his set. La Rue preferred the term ‘comic in a frock’ to ‘female impersonator’ and described his act as ‘playing a woman knowing that everyone knows it’s a fella’.

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Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937) 'Glen Byam Shaw as 'Laertes'' 1934-5

 

Glyn Warren Philpot (British, 1884-1937)
Glen Byam Shaw as ‘Laertes’
1934-1935
Oil paint on canvas
Kindly lent by the sitter’s grandson, Charles Hart

 

 

The actor Glen Byam Shaw is depicted here as Laertes in John Gielgud’s 1934 critically acclaimed production of Hamlet in a costume designed by Motley: Elizabeth Montgomery, Margaret Percy and Sophie Harris. Glyn Philpot cut down the original three-quarter length portrait after it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1935. This reduction puts even greater focus on Byam Shaw’s face and heavy stage make-up. While the image is typical of productions of the period, the medium of the portrait removes it from its original theatrical context. Coupled with Byam Shaw’s arch expression, the overriding impression is one of high camp. Byam Shaw had almost certainly been the lover of the poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) and may have met Philpot through Sassoon.

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Francis Goodman (1913-1989) 'Oliver Messel' 1945

 

Francis Goodman (English, 1913-1989)
Oliver Messel
1945
Photograph, silver gelatin print on paper
National Portrait Gallery, London
Bequeathed by the estate of Francis Goodman, 1989

 

 

Francis Goodman’s carefully posed photograph depicts Oliver Messel, the foremost British stage designer from the 1920s to the 1950s, surrounded by eclectic props. The producer Charles Cochran recalled how Messel ‘would pull something new out of his pocket – usually something used for domestic work – which he proposed to employ to give the illusion of some other fabric’. Messel was attracted to men and his fascination with dandyish excess, pastiche and artifice has been interpreted as a queer aesthetic.

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Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991) 'Douglas Byng' 1934

 

Paul Tanqueray (English, 1905-1991)
Douglas Byng
1934
Photograph, bromide print on paper
National Portrait Gallery. Given by Paul Tanqueray, 1974

 

 

Gay performer Douglas Byng gained the title ‘The Highest Priest of Camp’ with songs such as ‘Doris the Goddess of Wind’, ‘I’m a Mummy (An Old Egyptian Queen)’ and ‘Cabaret Boys’, which he performed with Lance Lester. Coward described him as ‘The most refined vulgarity in London, mais quel artiste!’ Byng’s costume in Paul Tanqueray’s photograph was probably the one he wore for his song ‘Wintertime’.

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Room 4: Bloomsbury and Beyond

The Bloomsbury Group of artists and writers famously ‘lived in squares and loved in triangles’. Dora Carrington had relationships with men and women but loved and was loved by Lytton Strachey, who was attracted to men. Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell lived together in Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex. A chosen few of Duncan Grant’s male lovers made visits but Paul Roche was forced to camp on the South Downs as he did not meet with Bell’s approval. Bell’s husband Clive lived apart from her but they remained happily married. While sexual intimacy was valued by the Group, it was not the most important bond tying the members together. Their network was a profoundly queer experiment in modern living founded on radical honesty and mutual support.

Bloomsbury’s matter-of-fact acceptance of same-sex desire was unusual but not unique. The objects in this room show a variety of different perspectives, from the quiet homeliness of Ethel Sands’s Tea with Sickert, to Gluck’s defiant self-portrait. Together, they reveal a generation of artists and sitters exploring, confronting and coming to terms with themselves and their desires.

 

Installation view of Room 4 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation view of Room 4 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain featuring Ethel Walker’s Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa 1920
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Walker (1861-1951) 'Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa' 1920

 

Ethel Walker (Scottish, 1861-1951)
Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa
1920
Oil paint on canvas

 

 

The composition of this painting reveals Ethel Walker’s fascination with Greco-Roman friezes, as well as the artistic possibilities of the female nude. The painting is inspired by Book IV of Homer’s Odyssey, in which the princess Nausicaa bathes with her maidens. In 1900, Walker became the first woman member of the New English Arts Club, whose select committee reacted to this painting with ‘spontaneous and enthusiastic applause’. There has been some speculation about the nature of Walker’s relationship with painter Clara Christian, with whom she lived and worked in the 1880s, although little evidence survives. This image offers a utopian vision of an all-female community.

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Installation view of Room 4 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

Installation view of Room 4 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation views of Room 4 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain featuring Duncan Grant’s Bathing 1911 (at left in the bottom image)
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Duncan Grant. 'Bathing' 1911

 

Duncan Grant (British, 1885-1978)
Bathing
1911
Oil paint on canvas
2286 x 3061mm
© Tate. Purchased 1931

 

 

Bathing was conceived as part of a decorative scheme for the dining room at Borough Polytechnic, and it was Duncan Grant’s first painting to receive widespread public attention. Grant’s design takes inspiration from summers spent around the Serpentine in Hyde Park, which was one of a number of sites associated with London’s queer culture. The painting celebrates the strength and beauty of the male form, and its homoerotic implications were not lost on Grant’s contemporaries: the National Review described the dining room as a ‘nightmare’ which would have a ‘degenerative’ effect on the polytechnic’s working-class students.

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Duncan Grant (1885-1978) 'Bathers by the Pond' (installation view) 1920-21

 

Duncan Grant (British, 1885-1978)
Bathers by the Pond (installation view)
1920-21
Oil paint on canvas
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council 1985)
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This painting shows a scene filled with homoerotic possibilities. The setting is possibly Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex, where Duncan Grant lived with Vanessa Bell, her children and his lover David (Bunny) Garnett. Grant’s use of dots of colour shows the influences of the pointillist technique pioneered by Georges Seurat. The nude figure in the foreground basks in the sun while the seated figures behind him exchange appreciative glances. Swimming ponds often served as cruising grounds and it is perhaps unsurprising that this work was not exhibited in Grant’s lifetime.

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Duncan Grant (1885-1978) 'Paul Roche Reclining' c. 1946

 

Duncan Grant (British, 1885-1978)
Paul Roche Reclining (installation view)
c. 1946
Oil paint on canvas
The Charleston Trust
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This painting depicts Duncan Grant’s close friend and possible lover Paul Roche, lying as if asleep. He is depicted against a patterned background reminiscent of colours and fabrics produced by the Omega Workshop, the design collective founded in 1913 by Roger Fry. These soft textures contrast with Roche’s bare torso, which is further emphasised by his briefs, socks and open shirt. Grant and Roche met by chance in July 1946: after making eye contact crossing the road at Piccadilly Circus, the two struck up a conversation. Their friendship lasted until Grant’s death in 1978.

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Duncan Grant

Duncan Grant produced erotic works on paper prolifically throughout his life. These objects were created in private and for personal consumption only. Racially diverse figures are presented in various states of sexual play, and Grant’s range of representation moves from explicit passion to tender post-coital repose. Overlapping bodies are depicted in impossible contortions, and the works reveal Grant’s fascination with the artistic possibilities of the male form as well as the importance of harmonious composition. The objects also demonstrate a characteristically witty approach to sexuality, with some copulating figures playfully masquerading as ballet dancers and wrestlers. As his daughter Angelica Garnett recalled, one of Grant’s favourite maxims was to ‘never be ashamed’, and his private erotica offers an unapologetic celebration of gay male sex and love.

 

Installation view of erotic drawing by Duncan Grant

Installation view of erotic drawing by Duncan Grant

 

Installation views of erotic drawings by Duncan Grant
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of Ethel Sands' 'Tea with Sickert' c. 1911-12

 

Installation view of Ethel Sands’ Tea with Sickert c. 1911-1912 from Room 4 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Ethel Sands (1873-1962) 'Tea with Sickert' c. 1911-12

 

Ethel Sands (English born America, 1873-1962)
Tea with Sickert
c. 1911-1912
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Bequeathed by Colonel Christopher Sands 2000, accessioned 2001

 

 

The scene of this painting is the sitting room Nan Hudson and Sands’s home. Although it features two figures – the artist Walter Sickert and Hudson – the table is set for afternoon tea for three. The composition of the painting is arranged as if the artist was standing behind Nan, and this perspective highlights their position as a couple. In 1912, the work was exhibited as part of Sands and Hudson’s joint exhibition at the Carfax Gallery and it drew mixed reactions: Westminster Gazette called it ‘a daring picture’ but ‘a somewhat overwhelming indulgence in pure orange vermilion’.

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Clare Atwood (1866-1962) 'John Gielgud's Room' 1933

 

Clare Atwood (British, 1866-1962)
John Gielgud’s Room
1933
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Presented by Mrs E.L. Shute 1937

 

 

This picture was painted in Sir John Gielgud’s flat at the time he was playing Richard II in Gordon Daviot’s Richard of Bordeaux at the New Theatre. Rather than emphasising his life in the public eye, this work draws attention to Gieglud’s domestic life. In this way, Clare ‘Tony’ Atwood gently subverts traditional associations of the feminine with private space. Atwood lived in a menage a trois with Gielgud’s second-cousin, Edith (Edy) Craig and the feminist playwright Christopher St John, who had previously lived together as an openly lesbian couple. St John later stated that ‘the bond between Edy and me was strengthened not weakened by Tony’s association with us’.

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Installation view of Gluck's 'Self-Portrait' 1942

 

Installation view of Gluck’s Self-Portrait 1942 from Room 4 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) 'Self-Portrait' 1942

 

Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) (British, 1895-1978)
Self-Portrait
1942
Oil paint on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London
Given by the sitter and artist, ‘Gluck’ (Hannah Gluckstein), 1973

 

 

Gluck locks gazes with the viewer in this unflinching self-portrait. Born Hannah Gluckstein, Gluck requested that the name Gluck be reproduced with ‘no prefix, suffix or quotes’. Gluck exhibited to great acclaim at the ‘The Gluck Room’ of The Fine Art Society, where visitors included Queen Mary. This painting was painted in 1942, in a difficult period in Gluck’s relationship with Nesta Obermer, Gluck’s ‘darling wife’. Obermer was frequently away, sometimes with her husband Seymour Obermer. In 1944, their relationship broke down and Gluck went to live with Edith Shackleton Herald. Their relationship lasted until Gluck’s death.

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Gluck (1895-1978) 'Lilac and Guelder Rose' 1932-7

 

Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) (British, 1895-1978)
Lilac and Guelder Rose
1932-1937
Oil paint on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery

 

 

This was one of a number of flower paintings that Gluck made during and immediately after her relationship with society florist and author Constance Spry, who she met in 1932. Spry was a leading figure in cultivating a fashion for white flowers, and often used Gluck’s paintings to illustrate her articles. Many of Spry’s customers also commissioned flower paintings from Gluck. When Lilac and Guelder Rose was exhibited at Gluck’s 1937 exhibition at the Fine Art Society, it was much admired by Lord Villiers, who remarked ‘It’s gorgeous, I feel I could bury my face in it’.

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Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937) 'Henry Thomas' (installation view) 1934-5

 

Glyn Warren Philpot (British, 1884-1937)
Henry Thomas (installation view)
1934-5
Oil paint on canvas
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Bequeathed by Mrs Rosemary Newgas, the neice of the artist 2004)
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Henry Thomas was Glyn Philpot’s servant and one of his favourite models. The high-cheekboned angularity of Thomas’s face is echoed in the diagonal lines of the abstracted background, perhaps an allusion to the batik fabric behind. The exact nature of Thomas and Philpot’s relationship is unknown. Many of Philpot’s depictions of Thomas carry a homoerotic charge and some are exoticising. What Thomas felt about his years with Philpot from 1929 to the artist’s death in 1937 is unknown. The words he wrote on Philpot’s funeral wreath, ‘For memory to my dear master as well as my father and brother to me’, hints at the imbalance between them, while also suggesting many complex layers of relationship.

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Edward Wolfe (1897-1982) 'Portrait of Pat Nelson' 1930s

 

Edward Wolfe (British, 1897-1982)
Portrait of Pat Nelson (installation view)
1930s
Oil paint on canvas
James O’Connor
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Patrick Nelson emigrated from Jamaica to North Wales in 1937, before settling in London to study law the following year. While living in Bloomsbury, Nelson worked as an artists’ model and soon became acquainted with Edward Wolfe. Nelson would also meet other prominent gay artists at this time, including his sometime boyfriend and lifelong friend Duncan Grant. Wolfe’s depiction of Nelson against the rich green background is exoticising and his pose invites the viewer to admire his body. Such objectification was typical of many depictions of black men from this time and reflects an uneven power dynamic, although Nelson’s friendship with members of the Bloomsbury group adds a level of complexity to the relationship between artist and sitter.

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Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937) 'Man with a Gun' (installation view) 1933

 

Glyn Warren Philpot (British, 1884-1937)
Man with a Gun (installation view)
1933
Oil paint on canvas
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Bequeathed by Jeffrey Daniels, 1986
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Glyn Philpot developed a strong reputation as a society portraitist until the 1930s, at which point he began to explore modernist forms, as well as express his sexuality more openly. This work depicts Philpot’s friend Jan Erland, who was the subject of a series of paintings by Philpot on the theme of sports and leisure. Erland is depicted cradling a gun which, he recalled, had been specifically borrowed for the occasion. Erland’s firm grip on the gun’s phallic barrel seems suggestive. Writing to his sister Daisy, Philpot described ‘every moment with this dear Jan’ as filled with ‘inspiration and beauty’.

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Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937) 'Man with a Gun' 1933

 

Glyn Warren Philpot (British, 1884-1937)
Man with a Gun
1933
Oil paint on canvas
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Bequeathed by Jeffrey Daniels, 1986

 

 

Tate Britain today opens the first exhibition dedicated to queer British art. Unveiling material that relates to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) identities, the show marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. It presents work from the abolition of the death penalty for sodomy in 1861 to the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 – a time of seismic shifts in gender and sexuality that found expression in the arts as artists and viewers explored their desires, experiences and sense of self.

Spanning the playful to the political, the explicit to the domestic, Queer British Art 1861-1967 showcases the rich diversity of queer visual art and its role in society. Themes explored in the exhibition include coded desires amongst the Pre-Raphaelites, representations of and by women who defied convention (including Virginia Woolf), and love and lust in sixties Soho. It features works by major artists such as Francis Bacon, Keith Vaughan, Evelyn de Morgan, Gluck, Glyn Philpot, Claude Cahun and Cecil Beaton alongside queer ephemera, personal photographs, film and magazines.

Work from 1861 to 1967 by artists with diverse sexualities and gender identities is showcased, ranging from covert images of same-sex desire such as Simeon Solomon’s Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene 1864 through to the open appreciation of queer culture in David Hockney’s Going to be a Queen for Tonight 1960. A highlight of the exhibition is a section focusing on the Bloomsbury set and their contemporaries – an artistic group famous for their bohemian attitude towards sexuality. The room includes intimate paintings of lovers, scenes of the homes artists shared with their partners and large commissions by artists such as Duncan Grant and Ethel Walker.

Many of the works on display were produced in a time when the terms ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘trans’ had little public recognition. The exhibition illustrates the ways in which sexuality became publically defined through the work of sexologists such as Henry Havelock Ellis and campaigners such as Edward Carpenter. It also looks at the high profile trials of Oscar Wilde and Radclyffe Hall. Objects on display include the door from Wilde’s prison cell, Charles Buchel’s portrait of Radclyffe Hall and erotic drawings by Aubrey Beardsley.

In contrast to the bleak outlook from the courtroom prior to 1967, queer culture was embraced by the British public in the form of theatre. From music hall acts to costume design, the theatre provided a forum in which sexuality and gender expression could be openly explored. Striking examples on display include photographs of performers such as Beatrix Lehmann, Berto Pasuka and Robert Helpmann by Angus McBean, who was jailed for his sexuality in 1942, alongside stage designs by Oliver Messel and Edward Burra. Theatrical cards of music hall performers such as Vesta Tilley (whose act as ‘Burlington Bertie’ had a large lesbian following) are featured, as well as a pink wig worn in Jimmy Slater’s act ‘A Perfect Lady’ from the 1920s.

Queer British Art 1861-1967 shows how artists and audiences challenged the established views of sexuality and gender identity between two legal landmarks. Some of the works in the show were intensely personal while others spoke to a wider public, helping to forge a sense of community. Alongside the exhibition is a room showing six films co-commissioned by Tate and Channel 4 Random Acts. Created in response to Queer British Art 1861-1967 and featuring figures in the LGBTQ+ community, including Sir Ian McKellen and Shon Faye, they present personal stories prompted by the themes in the show, and invite visitors to relate their own experiences.

Queer British Art 1861-1967 is curated by Clare Barlow, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain with Amy Concannon, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue from Tate Publishing and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.

Press release from Tate Britain

 

Why is the word ‘queer’ used in the exhibition title?

Queer has a mixed history – from the 19th century onwards it has been used both as a term of abuse and as a term by LGBT people to refer to themselves. Our inspiration for using it came from Derek Jarman who said that it used to frighten him but now ‘for me to use the word queer is a liberation’. More recently, of course, it has become reclaimed as a fluid term for people of different sexualities and gender identities. Historians of sexuality have also argued that it is preferable to other terms for sexualities in the past as these often don’t map onto modern sexual identities. In addition to carrying out audience research, we took advice from Stonewall and other LGBT charities and held focus groups with LGBT people. The advice from all of these sources was overwhelmingly that we should use it. While we tried other titles, no other option captured the full diversity of sexualities and gender identities that are represented in the show.

Text provided by Clare Barlow, curator of Queer British Art.

 

Installation view of Alvaro Guevara's 'Dame Edith Sitwell' 1916

 

Installation view of Alvaro Guevara’s Dame Edith Sitwell 1916 from Room 5 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Alvaro Guevara (1894-1951) 'Dame Edith Sitwell' 1916

 

Alvaro Guevara (1894-1951)
Dame Edith Sitwell
1916
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Presented by Lord Duveen, Walter Taylor and George Eumorfopoulos through the Art Fund 1920

 

 

The poet Edith Sitwell does not seem to have had sexual relationships but was viciously satirised by the artist and writer Wyndham Lewis as a lesbian. Sitwell described the life of the artist as ‘very Pauline’, referring to the letters of St Paul, which may suggest she thought sex would be a distraction. She was close friends with Alvaro Guevara, the artist of this portrait, who had relationships with men and women. Diana Holman Hunt in her 1974 biography of Guevara suggested that Sitwell and Guevara shared a love that was ‘not physical but certainly romantic and spiritual.’ The bright colours reflect the designs of Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell’s Omega Workshops and Sitwell is sitting on a dining chair designed by Fry. (Wall text)

 

Room 5: Defying Conventions

This room shows how artists and writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century challenged gender norms. Some, such as Laura Knight, laid claim to traditionally masculine sources of artistic authority by depicting themselves in the act of painting nude female models. Others, such as Vita Sackville-West, had open marriages and same-sex relationships, or, like Claude Cahun, questioned the very concept of gender binaries. This was a period of radical social change. Women took on new roles during the First and Second World Wars, and gained the vote in 1918. Sackville-West worked with the Land Girls. Cahun resisted the Nazis on Jersey and was sentenced to death, imprisoned for a year and only freed by the end of the war. New fashions developed. For women, wearing trousers in public became stylishly avant-garde. Expectations were changing. Public discussion about female same-sex desire offered ways of viewing the self, but it also brought problems. Lives that had previously passed without comment might now be labelled transgressive. But for some, this was a time of liberating possibilities.

 

Installation views of Room 5 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation view of Room 5 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain featuring with at left, Laura Knight’s Self-portrait 1913; second right, William Strang’s Lady with a Red Hat 1918, and at right Alvaro Guevara’s Dame Edith Sitwell 1916
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of William Strang's 'Lady with a Red Hat' 1918

 

Installation view of William Strang’s Lady with a Red Hat 1918 from Room 5 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

William Strang. 'Lady with a Red Hat' 1918

 

William Strang (Scottish, 1859-1921)
Lady with a Red Hat
1918
Oil paint on canvas
Lent by Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums) on behalf of Glasgow City Council
Purchased 1919

 

 

This portrait is of writer Vita Sackville-West. According to her son, Nigel Nicolson, she attended sittings with her lover Violet Trefusis. Sackville-West adopted a male persona, ‘Julian’, at some points in this relationship, allowing her and Trefusis to pose as a married couple so they could stay together at a boarding-house. Her fashionable dress in this image, however, gives no sign of such androgynous role-playing. The book in Sackville-West’s hand may refer to her book Poems of East and West 1917. At the time this was painted she was writing Challenge, a novel about her relationship with Trefusis, but this was not published until 1974.

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Laura Knight (1877-1970) 'Self-portrait' 1913

 

Laura Knight (English, 1877-1970)
Self-portrait
1913
Oil paint on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London

 

 

When this painting was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1913, the reviewer Claude Phillips wrote ‘it repels, not by any special inconvenience – for it is harmless enough and with an element of sensuous attraction – but by dullness and something dangerously close to vulgarity’. His strong reaction hints at anxieties over women painting the female nude, which subverted the hierarchy of male artist and female model. When Laura Knight was at art school women were not been allowed to attend life classes. Her sensuous depiction of herself painting Ella Naper, a friend, lays claim to a professional artistic identity. In 1936, Knight was the first woman to become an Academician since its foundation.

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Dorothy Johnstone (1892-1980) 'Rest Time in the Life Class' 1923

 

Dorothy Johnstone (Scottish, 1892-1980)
Rest Time in the Life Class
1923
Oil paint on canvas
City Art Centre, City of Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

 

 

This image depicts the life-class Johnstone taught for women at Edinburgh College of Art, which Johnstone presents as a space of friendship and collaboration. In the foreground, one woman comments on another’s drawing while in the background, Johnstone depicts herself gesturing towards the canvas. Johnstone had an intense relationship with Cecile Walton and Walton’s husband Eric Robertson, who were also part of the Edinburgh Group of artists. She later married fellow artist David Macbeth Sutherland.

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Claude Cahun (1894-1954) 'Untitled' 1936

Claude Cahun (1894-1954) 'Untitled' 1936

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Untitled
1936
2 photographs, gelatin silver print on paper

 

 

These images (to the left and right of I Extend My Arms), from a larger group of photographs, hint at different narrative possibilities for the sexless manikin. In one, the doll seems to take on a feminine air, posed as if delighting in the long hair that trails round its body. The other is less overtly gendered, wearing a hat made from an upright feather and holding aloft a tiny plant. The porcelain dolls’ heads outside the jar in one image are reminiscent of the masks that repeated occur in Cahun’s work and these images seem to hint at the themes of role-playing that Cahun explored in earlier self-portraits.

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Room 6: Arcadia and Soho

London was a magnet for queer artists. In the 1950s and 1960s, Soho was the epicentre of queer culture, described by Francis Bacon as ‘the sexual gymnasium of the city’. Many of the artists shown in this room were friends, often living in London, sometimes sharing studios. Several were encouraged by the patron and collector Peter Watson, founder of the influential literary magazine Horizon and co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Their work was often inspired by travel: to the Mediterranean, to costal Brittany, or to the seedy American bars that inspired works such as Edward Burra’s Izzy Orts.

John Craxton, John Minton and Keith Vaughan have been described as ‘neo-romantics’. Craxton, however, preferred the term ‘Arcadian’, referencing a classical utopian vision of a harmonious wilderness, populated by innocent shepherds. Yet, while it is idealised, depictions of Arcadia still sometimes include references to death and its peace can be disrupted by undercurrents of desire.

 

Installation view of Christopher Wood's 'Nude Boy in a Bedroom' 1930

 

Installation view of Christopher Wood’s Nude Boy in a Bedroom 1930 from Room 6 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Christopher Wood (1901-1930) 'Nude Boy in a Bedroom' 1930

 

Christopher Wood (English, 1901-1930)
Nude Boy in a Bedroom
1930
Oil paint on hardboard laid on plywood
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

 

 

Christopher Wood’s Nude Boy in a Bedroom depicts the artist’s friend and sometime lover Francis Rose, in a hotel room in Brittany where they stayed with a group of friends in 1930. The group was later joined by Wood’s mistress, Frosca Munster. According to Rose, the work ‘is a nude painting of me washing at a basin’ in which Wood ‘scattered playing cards on the bed’. The cards are tarot cards and the top card shows the Page of Cups reversed, symbolising anxiety about a deception that will be soon discovered, or referring to someone incapable of making commitments. Wood may have included these cards as an oblique reference to his ongoing relationships with his male lover and female mistress.

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Edward Burra. 'Soldiers at Rye' 1941

 

Edward Burra (English, 1905-1976)
Soldiers at Rye
1941
Tate
© Tate. Presented by Studio 1942

 

 

Edward Burra based Soldiers at Rye on sketches of troops around his home town of Rye between September and October 1940. His macabre sensibility was informed by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. In the final stages of painting, he added red and yellow Venetian carnival masks, giving the figures the air of predatory birds – a regular symbol in Burra’s work from the 1930s. Seen from behind, the soldiers’ close-fitting uniforms and bulbous physiques led one critic to comment that they had the ‘bulging husky leathery shape’ of ‘military ruffians’. There is an ominous atmosphere to the painting, conveying a dangerous homoeroticism.

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John Craxton (1922-2009) 'Head of a Cretan Sailor' 1946

 

John Craxton (English, 1922-2009)
Head of a Cretan Sailor
1946
Oil paint on board
On loan from the London Borough of Camden Art Collection
© Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2016
Photo credit: London Borough of Camden

 

 

The sitter in this portrait was on national service in the Greek Navy when he first met John Craxton in a taverna in Poros. He caught Craxton’s eye with his performance of the Greek dance the zeibékiko, with ‘splendidly controlled steps, clicking his thumbs and forefingers and circling round and round in his white uniform like a seagull’. Craxton followed him to Crete in 1947, where the sailor was now working as a butcher in Herákleion. The island was a revelation and Craxton returned often, eventually partly settling there in 1960.

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 Installation views of Room 6 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 Installation views of Room 6 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 Installation views of Room 6 of the exhibition 'Queer British Art' at Tate Britain

 

Installation views of Room 6 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain with Robert Medley’s Summer Eclogue No. 1: Cyclists 1950 at left, Keith Vaughan’s Kouros 1960 second left, Keith Vaughan’s Three Figures 1960-1961 second right, and his Bather: August 4th 1961 1961 at right
Photos: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Medley (1905-1994) 'Summer Eclogue No. 1: Cyclists' 1950

 

Robert Medley (English, 1905-1994)
Summer Eclogue No. 1: Cyclists
1950
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Purchased 1992

 

 

Exhibited at the Hanover Gallery in February 1950, Robert Medley’s painting of racing cyclists on a summer’s evening in a Gravesend public park underscores his attraction to cross-class sociability. The river esplanade offers a permissible space for observing the muscular bodies and taut limbs of the youths and their admirers. The title refers to Virgil’s Eclogues, in which pastoral tranquillity is disrupted by erotic forces and revolutionary change. Medley wrote in his autobiography that the eclogue theme provided for ‘a more contemporary subject matter’. One of the cyclists was modelled on fellow artist Keith Vaughan’s lover, Ramsay McClure.

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Installation view of Keith Vaughan's 'Kouros' 1960

 

Installation view of Keith Vaughan’s Kouros 1960 from Room 6 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) 'Kouros' 1960

 

Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Kouros
1960
Oil paint on canvas
Private collection

 

 

In a diary entry for 1956, Keith Vaughan wrote of ‘A silver bromide image of Johnny standing naked in my studio, aloof, slightly tense, withdrawn like a Greek Kouros, gazing apprehensively at himself in the mirror, lithe, beautiful… it lies tormenting me on my table’. This was a photograph of Vaughan’s lover Johnny Walsh who is also represented in this painting. A ‘Kouros’ was a free-standing ancient Greek sculpture of a male youth and the image may also have been inspired by a visit Vaughan made to Greece in 1960.

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Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) 'Three Figures' (installation view) 1960-1

 

Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Three Figures (installation view)
1960-1961
Oil paint on board
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Three Figures is typical of Keith Vaughan’s approach to group figure painting. The subjects are depicted in indeterminate locations and the lack of details a makes it to impossible to identify them or guess at their social class or profession. The close proximity of the figures in this image and the contrast between the nudity of the man with his back towards us and the other two men might suggest that this is an erotic encounter. Yet the composition remains intentionally enigmatic.

Wall text

 

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) 'Bather: August 4th 1961' 1961

 

Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Bather: August 4th 1961
1961
Oil paint on canvas
Tate. Purchased 1962

 

 

Keith Vaughan wrote in his journal, ‘The continual use of the male figure…retains always the stain of a homosexual conception… “K.V. paints nude young men”. Perfectly true, but I feel I must hide my head in shame. Inescapable, I suppose – social guilt of the invert’. He wrestled with the competing impulses of figuration and abstraction in his work, describing how: ‘I wanted to go beyond the specific, identifiable image – yet I did not want to do an “abstract” painting. Bather: August 4th 1961 was the first break through. Every attempt up to then had finally resolved itself into another figure painting or an “abstract”.’

Wall text

 

Keith Vaughan

In contrast over his concerns whether his desires would be shown in his paintings, Keith Vaughan’s private drawings are explicitly erotic. Across them he depicts a range of different encounters, from sadomasochistic fantasies through to moments of tender intimacy. This is perhaps a hint of these fluctuating desires in his descriptions of relationship with his lover Jonny Walsh, of which Vaughan said, ‘I can move from tenderness to sadism in the same harmonic key’.

 

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) 'Drawing of two men kissing' 1958-73

 

Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Drawing of two men kissing
1958-73
Tate Archive © DACS, The Estate of Keith Vaughan

 

 

Room 7: Public / Private Lives

This room explores the contradictions of queer life in the 1950s and 1960s. Before the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in 1967, the boundaries between public and private were acutely important to couples in same-sex relationships. Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell had separate beds in their tiny flat to maintain the pretence that they weren’t a couple. Such caution was justified. Peter Wildeblood, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and Michael Pitt-Rivers were sent to jail in a case that became a rallying point for calls to change the law, which was increasingly attacked as a ‘blackmailer’s charter’. Lesbianism was not illegal, but women faced prejudice. Avant-garde photographer Barbara Ker-Seymer was thrown out of her room after she left a copy of Radclyffe Hall’s banned book The Well of Loneliness out in plain sight.

Yet despite the threat of exposure, couples lived happily together, community flourished, and a few even became queer celebrities.

 

Stephen Tennant (1906-1986) 'Lascar, a story of the Maritime Boulevard' Nd

 

Stephen Tennant (British, 1906-1986)
Lascar, a story of the Maritime Boulevard
Nd
Ink, watercolour and collage on paper
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, London

 

 

In this illustration for Stephen Tennant’s novel Lascar a riotous collage of burly sailors, bright flowers, letters and visiting cards seem to burst forth from the page. Some of Tennant’s initial sketches of sailors were made on visits to the Old Port of Marseilles in the 1930s, but he constantly reworked the illustrations and text, never completing it. In the last two decades of his life, visitors to Wilsford Manor in Wiltshire where Tennant lived in virtual seclusion, found pages of the novel strewn across the decaying interiors.

Wall text

 

Because We’re Queers

Between 1959 and 1962, couple Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell borrowed and stole books from libraries around Islington. They cut out some of the illustrations, which they used to paper the walls of their flat and to create new collaged covers for the books. They then returned the volumes to the shelves of the libraries and waited to watch reactions.

The covers they created are full of jokes and references to queer culture. The addition of wrestling men turns Queen’s Favourite into an innuendo. Acting family the Lunts become kitsch glass figurines, while The Secret of Chimneys is depicted as a pair of giant cats. Others were more explicit: The World of Paul Slickey gains not only a phallic budgerigar but also a cut out shape of an erect penis. The plays of Emlyn Williams are retitled Knickers must fall and Fucked by Monty.

Orton and Halliwell were eventually caught and jailed for six months for ‘malicious damage’, which Orton claimed was ‘because we’re queers’. Prison destroyed Halliwell. While Orton became a successful playwright, Halliwell became an alcoholic. In 1967, he killed Orton and took his own life. Yet while their lives ended in tragedy, the bookcovers give insight into a playful and subversive relationship.

 

Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell. 'The Secret Chimneys by Agatha Christie'

 

Joe Orton (British, 1933-1967) and Kenneth Halliwell (British, 1951-1967)‎
The Secret Chimneys by Agatha Christie
Islington Local History Centre

 

Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell. 'Queen's Favourite'

 

Joe Orton (British, 1933-1967) and Kenneth Halliwell (British, 1951-1967)‎
Queen’s Favourite
Islington Local History Centre

 

Interior of the flat at 25 Noel Rd showing the extent of the collages

 

Interior of the flat at 25 Noel Rd showing the extent of the collages
Image courtesy of Islington Council

 

Kenneth Halliwell (1926-1967) 'Untitled' (installation view) 1967

 

Kenneth Halliwell (British, 1951-1967)‎
Untitled (installation view)
1967
Printed papers on hardboard
Tate. Purchased 2016
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This is one of 19 collages that Halliwell exhibited at the Anno Domino gallery in 1967. Unlike the earlier book-covers, these were made by Halliwell alone, yet they are similarly kaleidoscopic in their use of images. An archeological artefact here sits alongside fashion photography, sea-shells, insects and words from newspapers and magazines. Some of these juxtapositions are playful: ‘Eye’ appears where an eye would be. Others are more obscure and the phrases ‘Blackmail’ and ‘dirty word’ perhaps hint at oppression. The exhibition was a failure and Halliwell’s professional frustration contributed to the breakdown of his relationship with Orton, who was now established as a playwright.

Wall text

 

George Elam. 'Joe Orton in Islington, London' 1967

 

George Elam
Joe Orton in Islington, London
1967
George Elam/Daily Mail/REX

 

Angus McBean (1904-1990) 'Quentin Crisp' 1941

 

Angus McBean (Welsh, 1904-1990)
Quentin Crisp
1941
Photograph, bromide print on paper
National Portrait Gallery, London

 

 

Angus McBean met the writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp while walking in the blackout in 1941 and the two became lovers. McBean later said of Crisp, ‘He was really one of the most beautiful people I have ever photographed. It was a completely androgynous beauty and under different circumstances it would have been difficult to know what sex he was’. This ambiguity is captured in McBean’s photograph, which is posed to emphasise Crisp’s long lashes, glossy lips and elaborate ring, the position of which is suggestive of an earring. Crisp’s refusal to conform to traditional masculine appearance was courageous and unswerving.

Wall text

 

John Deakin (1912-1972) 'Colin' (installation view) c. 1950s

 

John Deakin (English, 1912-1972)
Colin (installation view)
c. 1950s
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
John Deakin Archive / James Moores Collection
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

We don’t know anything about the sitter in this portrait. Deakin’s friend Bruce Bernard, who catalogued John Deakin’s negatives, likely gave it the label ‘Colin’, perhaps from memory, perhaps from an original sleeve note by Deakin. It is therefore not clear whether it depicts a drag performance or whether the glamorous outfit reflects the sitter’s true identity. It is, however, shot in a domestic setting rather than on the stage, leaving open the possibility that it depicts the sitter’s lived experience.

Wall text

 

John Deakin

John Deakin seems almost to embody queer Soho of the 1950s. A close friend and drinking companion of Francis Bacon, his portrait photographs include many artists, actors, poets and celebrities. His style was often startlingly unflattering, capturing his sitters as they truly were. He said of his work, ‘Being fatally drawn to the human race, what I want to do when I take a photograph is make a revelation about it. So my sitters turn into my victims’. Deakin admitted to a drink problem which led to a chequered career and was twice sacked from Vogue. After his death, many of his photographic negatives were found in a box under his bed and were saved by his friend, writer and picture editor Bruce Bernard.

 

John Deakin (1912-1972) 'The Two Roberts Asleep - Colquhoun and MacBryde' c. 1953

 

John Deakin (Englsih, 1912-1972)
The Two Roberts Asleep – Colquhoun and MacBryde
c. 1953
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
John Deakin Archive / James Moores Collection

 

 

Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde are here shown asleep on each other shoulders in a moment of tender intimacy. They had met on their first day at Glasgow School of Art and became lovers and lifelong partners. This photograph was probably taken at Tilty Mill, the home of the writer Elizabeth Smart, who invited Colquhoun and MacBryde to live with her and her partner the poet George Barker, when they’d been evicted from their studio in London. They spent the next four years there, combining painting with helping to raise Smart and Barker’s four children. The edges of the image show evidence of fire damage from some forgotten occasion.

Wall text

 

Barbara Ker-Seymer

Barbara Ker-Seymer was a photographer active in the interwar years. After studying at the Chelsea School of Art, she worked for the society portrait photographer Olivia Wyndham. When Wyndham moved to New York to be with her lover, the African-American actress Edna Lloyd-Thomas, Ker-Seymer was left in charge of her studio. She established her own studio on New Bond Street in 1931, and began a successful career as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. She pursued relationships with both men and women, and was associated with the queer subculture known as the Bright Young Things. After the Second World War, she ceased to work as a photographer, opening a laundrette in 1951. Her papers, in Tate Archive, are full of playful images of her friends.

 

Barbara Ker-Seymer (1905-1993) 'Photograph album' (installation view) Nd

 

Barbara Ker-Seymer (British, 1905-1993)
Photograph album (installation view)
Nd
Tate Archive
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This creatively arranged spread in one of Ker-Seymer’s photograph albums shows images of a number of her friends, including Marty Mann, an American who was for a time Ker-Seymer’s business partner and lover. Mann’s drinking was increasingly a problem and their relationship floundered. She later became an important advocate for the newly formed ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’.

Wall text

 

Room 8: Francis Bacon and David Hockney

The most fearless depictions of male same-sex desire in the years before 1967 are in the work of Francis Bacon and David Hockney. Bacon told how as a teenager his parents threw him out of their home for trying on his mother’s underwear. He gravitated to London, where he began his visceral exploration of the human figure. Hockney arrived in London in 1959 to study at the Royal College of Art. He was deeply impressed by Bacon’s 1960 exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery, commenting ‘you can smell the balls’, but his own style was more playful, experimenting with abstraction and graffiti.

Hockney and Bacon both drew heavily on the visual culture that surrounded them, from well-established artistic sources such as Eadweard Muybridge’s innovative photographs of wrestlers to cheap bodybuilding magazines. They were not alone in spotting the homoerotic potential of this material – artists such as Christopher Wood had already used the trope of wrestlers to hint at queer intimacy. Yet Hockney and Bacon went further, fearlessly stripping away ambiguities.

Their work was controversial. Bacon’s 1955 exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts was investigated by the police for obscenity while Hockney once described his early paintings as ‘homosexual propaganda’. They both continued to push the boundaries of what could be depicted in art, breaking new ground.

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Two Figures in a Landscape' (installation view) 1956

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Two Figures in a Landscape (installation view)
1956
Oil paint on canvas
Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Two Figures in a Landscape combines the homoerotic themes of the ‘crouching nude’ and ‘figures in the grass’ that Francis Bacon explored in multiple paintings throughout the 1950s. He was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs of wrestlers and athletes, along with Michelangelo’s drawings and sculpture. Bacon adapted these to explore his homosexuality with varying degrees of ambiguity. He later explained ‘Michelangelo and Muybridge are mixed up in my mind together’ and ‘I manipulate the Muybridge bodies into the form of the bodies I have known’.

Wall text

 

Francis Bacon. 'Seated Figure' 1961

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Seated Figure
1961
Tate. Presented by J. Sainsbury Ltd 1961
© Estate of Francis Bacon

 

 

This image probably depicts Francis Bacon’s former lover Peter Lacy. Bacon was a masochist and Lacy once told him ‘you could live in a corner of my cottage on straw. You could sleep and shit there’. Lacy’s suit and the inclusion of domestic details such as the exotic rug and chair contrast with the tempestuous abstract backdrop, giving the image an air of suppressed violence. Bacon spoke of his treatment of sitters in his portraits as an ‘injury’ and once said ‘I hate a homely atmosphere… I want to isolate the image and take it away from the interior and the home’.

Wall text

 

Installation view of David Hockney's 'Life Painting for a Diploma' 1962

 

Installation view of David Hockney’s Life Painting for a Diploma 1962 from Room 8 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

David Hockney (born 1937) 'Life Painting for a Diploma' 1962

 

David Hockney (British, b. 1937)
Life Painting for a Diploma
1962
Oil paint, charcoal and collage on canvas
Yageo Foundation Collection, Taiwan

 

 

Life Painting for a Diploma formed part of David Hockney’s final submission at the Royal College of Art. The hanging skeleton displays Hockney’s skills as a draftsman but it is the well-toned bodybuilder who catches the viewer’s attention. Hockney’s gay American friend Mark Berger introduced him to ‘beefcake’ magazines such as Physique Pictorial. Here, the stereotypical model and inscription PHYSIQUE references this material. Hockney claimed he painted this image to satisfy the RCA’s requirement that students produce a number of life-drawings. The work’s title and its contrast between the arid skeleton and lively model (clearly not painted from life) subtly mocks his instructors.

Wall text

 

David Hockney (born 1937) 'Going to be a Queen for Tonight' 1960

 

David Hockney (British, b. 1937)
Going to be a Queen for Tonight
1960
Oil paint on canvas
Royal College of Art

 

 

The words ‘queer’ and ‘queen’, both terms for gay men at this time, are scrawled across the surface of this image. Hockney was fascinated with the graffiti in the public toilets at Earls Court Underground station. Here, messages about opportunities for casual sex were mixed with other slogans. The title playfully hints at these possibilities – ‘queen’ but only for the night. It was one of a number of paintings made by Hockney at the Royal College Of Art which reference queer urban life. Hockney described his early works as ‘a kind of mixture of Alan Davie cum Jackson Pollock cum Roger Hilton’.

Wall text

 

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) 'Wrestlers' 1965

 

Keith Vaughan (British, 1912-1977)
Wrestlers (installation view)
1965
Watercolour and ink on paper
York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Gifted through the Contemporary Art Society, as a bequest from Dr Ronald Lande, in memory of his life partner Walter Urech, 2012
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Physique Photography In Britain

British Physique photography flourished after the Second World War. Body-building magazines such as Health and Strength or Man’s World could be purchased quite innocently in newsagents. For many gay men, however, these publications were an important first step towards finding a community.

Bodybuilding shots, wrestlers and ‘art studies’ offered a pretext for gay photographers such as Vince, Basil Clavery (alias ‘Royale’ and ‘Hussar’), Lon of London and John Barrington to produce homoerotic imagery. Their work often included references to classical civilisation, an established shorthand for queer culture. Some dropped the pretence of bodybuilding altogether and sold more explicit material directly to a burgeoning private market.

This was a risky business: selling or sending such images through the post could land both photographer and purchaser in jail. Yet for many gay men, the easy availability of physique imagery gave reassurance that they were not alone. Somebody out there understood and shared their desires.

 

Installation view of physique album pages

Installation view of physique album pages

 

Installation views of physique album pages from Room 8 of the exhibition Queer British Art at Tate Britain
Photo: © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

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20
Jul
17

Exhibition: ‘Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition’ as part of the NGV Festival of Photography at NGV Australia, Melbourne Part 1

Exhibition dates: 31st March – 30th July 2017

Individual art works from the NGV collection (in artist alphabetical order) appearing in Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition at NGV Australia

 

” … from an air guitar to Being and nothingness … “

 

 

Antoine-Louis Barye (France 1796-1875) 'Walking lion' c. 1840

 

Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1796-1875)
Walking lion
Lion qui marche
c. 1840, cast 1900
Bronze
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1927

 

 

Part 1 of this bumper posting. More to follow.

My hand is progressing slowly. A return to part-time work in the next couple of weeks, for which I will be grateful. It has been tough road dealing with this injury.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Antoine-Louis Barye (France 1796-1875) 'Walking tiger' c. 1841

 

Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1796-1875)
Walking tiger
Tigre qui marche
c. 1841, cast 1900
Bronze
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1927

 

John Armstrong (England 1893-1973) 'Invocation' 1938

 

John Armstrong (English, 1893-1973)
Invocation
1938
Tempera on plywood
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased with funds donated by Ian Hicks AM and Dorothy Hicks, 2006

 

 

Invocation is one of a series of paintings, which John Armstrong begun in the 1930’s as a direct statement against the rise of Fascism in Europe. John Armstrong observed Fascism in Italy at first hand and became an active left wing campaigner against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He was commissioned as an official war artist, designing a cover for a leaflet in the 1945 election campaign and contributed occasional articles and poetry to left wing journals. In his painting Victory, he imagined the result of a nuclear holocaust, which attracted the attention at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1958.

Text from the Leicester Galleries website [Online] Cited 17/07/2017. No longer available online

 

Eugène Atget (France 1857-1927) 'Eclipse' 1911, printed 1956- early 1970s

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Eclipse
1911, printed 1956- early 1970s
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased, 1978

 

 

Surrogates and the Surreal

Atget’s photograph Pendant l’éclipse (During the eclipse) was featured on the cover of the seventh issue of the Parisian Surrealists’ publication La Révolution surréaliste, with the caption Les Dernières Conversions (The last converts), in June 1926. The picture was uncredited, as were the two additional photographs reproduced inside. Although Atget firmly resisted the association, his work – in particular his photographs of shop windows, mannequins, and the street fairs around Paris – had captured the attention of artists with decidedly avant-garde inclinations, such as Man Ray and Tristan Tzara. Man Ray lived on the same street as Atget, and the young American photographer Berenice Abbott (working as Man Ray’s studio assistant) learned of the French photographer and made his acquaintance in the mid-1920s – a relationship that ultimately brought the contents of Atget’s studio at the time of his death (in 1927) to The Museum of Modern Art almost forty years later.

Text from Art Blart posting Eugène Atget: “Documents pour artistes” at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

 

Pierre Bonnard (France 1867-1947) 'Siesta' 1900

 

Pierre Bonnard (France, 1867-1947)
Siesta
La Sieste
1900
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1949

 

Eugène Boudin (France 1824-98) 'Low tide at Trouville' 1894

 

Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1998)
Low tide at Trouville
Trouville, Mareé basse
1894
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1939

 

John Brack (Australia 1920-99) 'Self-portrait' 1955

 

John Brack (Australian, 1920-1999)
Self-portrait
1955
Melbourne, Victoria
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery Women’s Association, 2000

 

 

Striking in its candour, 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 frequently depicted by both male and female Australian artists, it is unusual for men to be shown or to show themselves in this context. Modest in scale, Brack’s image is conceived in a complex yet subtle colour scheme, applied with clarity and precision.

Geoffrey Smith. “John Brack’s Self Portrait,” on the National Gallery of Victoria website 4th June 2014 [Online] Cited 21/12/2021

 

Britains Ltd, London manufacturer (England 1860-1997) 'Milk float and horse' c. 1950

 

Britains Ltd, London manufacturer (English, 1860-1997)
Milk float and horse
no. 45F from the Model home farm series 1921-1961
c. 1950
Painted lead alloy
National Gallery of Victoria
Presented by Miss Lucy Kerley and her nephew John Kerley, 1982

 

Jacques Callot (France 1592-1635) 'The firing squad' 1633

 

Jacques Callot (French, 1592-1635)
The firing squad
L’Arquebusade
Plate 12 from Les Misères et les malheurs de la guerre
The miseries and misfortunes of war series
1633
Etching, 2nd of 3 states
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased, 1950

 

Paul Caponigro (born United States 1932) 'Nahant, Massachusetts' 1965

 

Paul Caponigro (American, b. 1932)
Nahant, Massachusetts
1965
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1977

 

Jean Charles Cazin (France 1841-1901, lived in England 1871-75) 'The rainbow' late 1880s

 

Jean Charles Cazin (French, 1841-1901, lived in England 1871-1875)
The rainbow
L’Arc-en-ciel
late 1880s
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1913

 

Marshall Claxton (England 1813-81, lived in Australia 1850-54) 'An emigrant's thoughts of home' 1859

 

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

 

 

Marshall Claxton’s painting An emigrant’s thoughts of home (1859) belongs to a clutch of works, both fine and popular, both pictorial and literary, that for an Australasian audience are perhaps the most resonant of the many products of Victorian culture. Emigration, a social and political phenomenon for mid-nineteenth-century Britain, and the essential lubricant of British imperialism, inspired a profusion of paintings, prints, novels, plays, poems, essays and letters that speak eloquently about the realities and myths of Victorian Britain and its role in the world, engaging concepts of the family, womanhood, the artist’s role and function and, indeed, the meaning of life.

Pamela Gerrish Nunn. “Look homeward Angel: Marshall Claxton’s emigrant,” on the National Gallery of Victoria website 18th June 2014 [Online] Cited 21/12/2021

 

Olive Cotton (Australia 1911-2003) 'Teacup ballet' 1935, printed 1992

 

Olive Cotton (Australian, 1911-2003)
Teacup ballet
1935, printed 1992
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1992

 

 

Among Cotton’s most famous photographs, Teacup ballet has very humble origins. It was taken after hours in the Dupain studio and used a set of cheap cups and saucers Cotton had earlier bought from a Woolworths store for use around the studio. As she later recounted: ‘Their angular handles suggested to me the position of “arms akimbo” and that led to the idea of a dance pattern’. The picture uses a range of formal devices that became common to Cotton’s work, especially the strong backlighting used to create dramatic tonal contrasts and shadows. The picture achieved instant success, and was selected for exhibition in the London Salon of Photography for 1935.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Olive Cotton (Australia 1911-2003) 'The sleeper' 1939, printed 1992

 

Olive Cotton (Australian, 1911-2003)
The sleeper
1939, printed 1992
Gelatin silver photograph, ed. 4/25
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1992

 

 

The sleeper 1939, Olive Cotton’s graceful study of her friend Olga Sharp resting while on a bush picnic, made around the same time as Max Dupain’s Sunbaker, presents a different take upon the enjoyment of life in Australia. The woman is relaxed, nestled within the environment. The mood is one of secluded reverie.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Edward Curtis (United States 1868-1952) 'Kalóqutsuis - Qágyuhl' 1914, printed 1915

 

Edward Curtis (American, 1868-1952)
Kalóqutsuis – Qágyuhl
1914, printed 1915
Photogravure
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Ms Christine Godden, 1991

 

 

Not only was he one of the greatest ethnographic photographers of all time (as well as being an ethnographer recording more than 10,000 songs on a primitive wax cylinder, and writing down vocabularies and pronunciation guides for 75 languages) … he was also an aesthetic photographer. Looking at his photographs you can feel that he adhered to the principles of the nature and appreciation of beauty situated within the environment of the Native American cultures and peoples. He had a connection to the people and to the places he was photographing…

Curtis created a body of work unparrallleled in the annals of photography – an ethnographic study of an extant civilisation before it vanished (or so they thought at the time). Such a project stretched over thirty years, producing 45-50 thousand negatives “many of them on glass and some as large as fourteen by seventeen inches” of which 2,200 original photographs appeared in his magnum opus, The North American Indian…

While all great photographers have both technical skill and creative ability it is the dedication of this artist to his task over so many years that sets him apart. That dedication is critically coupled with his innate ability to capture the “spirit” of the Native American cultures and peoples, their humanity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Frances Derham (Australia 1894-1987) 'Building the bridge' 1929

 

Frances Derham (Australian, 1894-1987)
Building the bridge
1929
Colour linocut on Japanese paper
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Mr Richard Hodgson Derham, 1988

 

Kerry Dundas (born Australia 1931, lived in Europe 1958-67) 'A girl is carried away under arrest' 1961-63

 

Kerry Dundas (Australian, b. 1931, lived in Europe 1958-67)
A girl is carried away under arrest
From the Youth against the Bomb series
1961-1963
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1971

 

Max Dupain (1911-1992) 'Bondi' 1939

 

Max Dupain (Australian, 1911-1992)
Bondi
1939
Gelatin silver photograph
30.3 × 29.5cm
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board, 1976

 

Walker Evans (United States 1903-75) 'Hitchhikers, near Vicksburg, Mississippi' 1936, printed c. 1975

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Hitchhikers, near Vicksburg, Mississippi
1936, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

Walker Evans (United States 1903-75) 'Auto dump, near Easton, Pennsylvania' 1935, printed c. 1975

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Auto dump, near Easton, Pennsylvania
1935, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

William Frater (born Scotland 1890, arrived Australia 1913, died 1974) 'The blue nude' c. 1934

 

William Frater (born Scotland 1890, arrived Australia 1913, died 1974)
The blue nude
c. 1934
Oil on canvas on cardboard
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Mrs Lina Bryans 1969

 

 

His contribution to art in Australia was, however, as a painter who introduced Post-Impressionist principles and challenged the notion that art was an imitation of nature.

Frater’s oeuvre developed between 1915 and 1920 towards a simplification of design, an interplay of massed lights and shadows, and sonorous low-keyed colour that reflected his interest in the classical seventeenth century painters in interaction with the analytical tonal theory of Max Meldrum. Notable examples of his predominantly figure and portrait paintings are ‘The artist’s wife reading’ (1915) and ‘Portrait of artist’s wife’ (1919). An experimental Colourist phase followed in the next decade. His first solo exhibition was held in May 1923 at the Athenaeum, Melbourne, and he exhibited with the Twenty Melbourne Painters from the late 1920s, and the Contemporary Group of Melbourne in the 1930s.

His approach in the 1930s was markedly indebted to Cézanne, especially in the portraits which predominated until his retirement… Frater gave aggressive leadership to the small group of modernists in the 1920s. His example, teaching, lecturing and crusty style of polemic did much to disrupt the academic style as the arbiter of pictorial values and to pioneer a change of taste in the community.

L. J. Course. “Frater, William (1890-1974),” on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website, published first in hardcopy 1981 [Online] Cited 23 December 2021

 

Emmanuel Frémiet (France 1824-1910) 'Gorilla carrying off a woman' 1887

 

Emmanuel Frémiet (French, 1824-1910)
Gorilla carrying off a woman
Gorille enlevant une femme
1887
Bronze
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of the artist 1907

 

Lee Friedlander (born United States 1934) 'Hillcrest, New York' 1970, printed c. 1977

 

Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
Hillcrest, New York
1970, printed c. 1977
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1977

 

Lee Friedlander (born United States 1934) 'Mount Rushmore' 1969, printed c. 1977

 

Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
Mount Rushmore
1969, printed c. 1977
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1977

 

 

The ‘tourist gaze’

As Grundberg notes, Friedlander’s terse depiction shows both the sight and the tourists themselves, being brought into existence through the effects of looking, reflecting, framing and imaging. These, he adds, are all linked to the general project of culturally appropriating the natural world. ‘Natural site has become acculturated sight’ (Grundberg 1990: 15).

As the image makes clear, the ‘sight’ or the ‘site’ is a ‘seeing’ without a subject, for it pre-exists the arrival and activity of any individual tourist-photographer, who, once located there, is framed as much as framing. The sight is not so much an object to be viewers an already structured condition of seeing, a situation which places the sightseer even as he or she freely choose to look or shoot.

The effects of photography’s presence in the tourist system merely completed a process under way before photography’s birth. As tourists, even at the moment of photographing, even if touring cameraless, we are not so much looking as looking at images, or looking for images. Tourism provides us less with experience than with events to be seen, Or rather, events to look at. The privileging of the visual grants us separation from our own experience… We look on or look in through the distancing arrangements of the camera or through eyes educated to see with the same ontological remoteness. The world of the tourist is ‘over there’, in the past-present, in the exotic-ordinary. It is framed off, the object of imaging or description, in some spectacular distance, or set back as performance (Greenwood in Smith 1989).

Peter Osborne. Traveling Light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture. Manchester University Press, 2000, pp. 81-82.

 

Barbara Hepworth (England 1903-75) 'Eidos' 1947

 

Barbara Hepworth (English, 1903-1975)
Eidos
1947
Stone, synthetic polymer paint
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased with the assistance of the Samuel E. Wills Bequest to commemorate the retirement of Dr E. Westbrook, Director of Arts for Victoria, 1981

 

 

Eidos a Greek term meaning “form” “essence”, “type” or “species”. The early Greek concept of form precedes attested philosophical usage and is represented by a number of words mainly having to do with vision, sight, and appearance. The words, εἶδος (eidos) and ἰδέα (idea) come from the Indo-European root *weid-, “see”. Eidos (though not idea) is already attested in texts of the Homeric era, the earliest Greek literature. This transliteration and the translation tradition of German and Latin lead to the expression “theory of Ideas.” The word is however not the English “idea,” which is a mental concept only.

The meaning of the term εἶδος (eidos), “visible form”, and related terms μορφή (morphē), “shape”, and φαινόμενα (phainomena), “appearances”, from φαίνω (phainō), “shine”, Indo-European *bhā-, remained stable over the centuries until the beginning of philosophy, when they became equivocal, acquiring additional specialised philosophic meanings.

Theory of Forms Wikipedia

 

Lewis Hine (United States 1874-1940) 'Sam Pine, 8 year old truant newsboy who lives at 717 West California Street' 1917

 

Lewis Hine (American, 1874-1940)
Sam Pine, 8 year old truant newsboy who lives at 717 West California Street
1917
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1980

 

David Hockney (born England 1937, worked in United States 1964-68, 1975- ) 'Reclining figure' 1975

 

David Hockney (born England 1937, worked in United States 1964-68, 1975- )
Reclining figure
1975
Etching and liftground etching, ed. 38/75
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Margaret Toll 2006

 

Edmond-François Aman-Jean (France 1860-1936) 'Woman resting' c. 1904

 

Edmond-François Aman-Jean (French, 1860-1936)
Woman resting
La Femme couchée
c. 1904
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest 1905

 

Max Klinger (Germany 1857-1920) 'Cast of artist's hands' 1920

 

Max Klinger (German, 1857-1920)
Cast of artist’s hands
1920
plaster
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Mrs Marcelle Osins, 1994

 

Fred Kruger (born Germany 1831, arrived Australia 1860, died) 'Coast scene, Mordialloc Creek, near Cheltenham' c. 1871

 

Fred Kruger (Australian born Germany, 1831-1888)
Coast scene, Mordialloc Creek, near Cheltenham
c. 1871
Albumen silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Mrs Beryl M. Curl, 1979

 

 

The best of the landscape photographs have nothing to do with Arcadian, pastoral life at all. For me, Kruger’s photographs only start to come alive when he is photographing gum trees against the sky. Anyone who has tried to photograph the Australian bush knows how difficult it is to evince a “feeling” for the bush and Kruger achieves this magnificently in a series of photographs of gum trees in semi-cleared land, such as Bush scene near Highton (c. 1879). These open ‘park-like’ landscapes are not sublime nor do they picture the spread of colonisation but isolate the gum trees against the sky. They rely on the thing itself to speak to the viewer, not a constructed posturing or placement of figures to achieve a sterile mise-en-scène.

Dr Marcus Bunyan from a posting on the NGV exhibition Fred Kruger: Intimate Landscapes.

 

Kusakabe Kimbei (Japan 1841-1934) 'No title (Couple with a cabinet photograph and ghost in background)' 1880s

 

Kusakabe Kimbei (Japanese, 1841-1934)
No title (Couple with a cabinet photograph and ghost in background)
1880s
Albumen silver photograph, colour dyes
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 2004

 

 

Kimbei Kusakabe arrived in Yokohama in 1856 and became Felice Beato’s pupil, hand-colouring his photographs until 1863. In 1881, he opened his own studio and promptly became one of the most prosperous and influential photographers of his generation, rivalling the Western artists that had until then dominated the market. With his coloured portraits, everyday scenes and landscapes, he is the purveyor of souvenir images for Westerners visiting Japan. Kimbei Kusakabe depicted men in serene social and economic contexts while women – his favourite subjects – were represented in romantic portraits as well as domestic and cultural scenes. The young mysterious and submissive geisha was particularly appealing to Western audiences and the Japanese photographer helped establish their visual identity as icons of feminine beauty and social etiquette. Kimbei Kusakabe’s rare images are a rich resource for the comprehension of a Japan that has now disappeared.

Text from The Red List website [Online] Cited 17/07/2017. No longer available online

 

Kusakabe Kimbei worked with Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried as a photographic colourist and assistant before opening his own workshop in Yokohama in 1881, in the Benten-dōri quarter, and from 1889 operating in the Honmachi quarter. He also opened a branch in the Ginza quarter of Tokyo. Around 1885, he acquired the negatives of Felice Beato and of Stillfried, as well as those of Uchida Kuichi. Kusakabe also acquired some of Ueno Hikoma’s negatives of Nagasaki. He stopped working as a photographer in 1912-1913.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Dorothea Lange (United States 1895-1965) 'Towards Los Angeles, California' 1936, printed c. 1975

 

Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)
Towards Los Angeles, California
1936, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

Dorothea Lange (United States 1895-1965) 'Ditched, stalled and stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California' 1935, printed c. 1975

 

Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)
Ditched, stalled and stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California
1935, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

Russell Lee (United States 1903-86) 'Interlude, after watching the Fourth of July Parade, Vale, Oregon' 1941, printed c. 1975

 

Russell Lee (American, 1903-1986)
Interlude, after watching the Fourth of July Parade, Vale, Oregon
1941, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

José López (born Cuba 1941, lived in United States c. 1961-92, died United States 1992) Luis Medina (born Cuba 1942, lived in United States 1961-85, died United States 1985) 'Boy asleep by the beach' 1976

 

José López (born Cuba 1941, lived in United States c. 1961-92, died United States 1992)
Luis Medina (born Cuba 1942, lived in United States 1961-85, died United States 1985)
Boy asleep by the beach
1976
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1978

 

Ruth Maddison (born Australia 1945) 'No title (Woman collecting a Christmas present from the car)' 1977-78

 

Ruth Maddison (Australian, b. 1945)
No title (Woman collecting a Christmas present from the car)
from the Christmas Holidays with Bob’s Family, Mermaid Beach, Queensland series
1977-78, printed 1979
Gelatin silver photograph, coloured pencils and fibretipped pen, ed. 1/5
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1980

 

 

This was a very hands on process, an observation confirmed by artist Ruth Maddison. “The process was like hand watering your garden, an intense exchange and engagement with the object. When I started I was completely untrained, but I loved the process. I just experimented in order to understand what medium does what on what paper surface. There was the beauty of its object and its physicality. I just loved the object.” Her series Christmas holiday with Bob’s family, Mermaid Beach, Queensland (1977-78), photographed over Christmas Day and several days afterwards, evidences this magical transformation. Vernacular photographs of a typical Australia Christmas holiday become something else, transformed into beautiful, atypical representations of family, friendship, celebration and life.

Dr Marcus Bunyan commenting on the National Gallery of Australia exhibition Colour My World: Handcoloured Australia Photography.

 

Henri Matisse (France 1869-1954) 'Reclining nude on a pink couch' 1919

 

Henri Matisse (France, 1869-1954)
Reclining nude on a pink couch
Nu couché sur canapé rose
1919
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest 1952

 

Amedeo Modigliani (born Italy 1884, lived in France 1906-20, died France 1920) 'Nude resting' c. 1916-19

 

Amedeo Modigliani (born Italy 1884, lived in France 1906-20, died France 1920)
Nude resting
c. 1916-19
Pencil on buff paper; laid down
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest 1948

 

László Moholy-Nagy (born Hungary 1895, lived in Germany 1920-34, lived in United States 1935-37, United States 1937-46, died United States) 'Helsinki' 1927, printed 1973

 

László Moholy-Nagy (born Hungary 1895, lived in Germany 1920-34, lived in United States 1935-37, United States 1937-46, died United States 1946)
Helsinki
1927, printed 1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1975

 

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

 

David Moore (Australian, 1927-2003)
Migrants arriving in Sydney
1966
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1991

 

 

In this evocative image Moore condenses the anticipation and apprehension of immigrants into a tight frame as they arrive in Australia to begin a new life. The generational mix suggests family reconnections or individual courage as each face displays a different emotion.

Moore’s first colour image Faces mirroring their expectations of life in the land down under, passengers crowd the rail of the liner Galileo Galilei in Sydney Harbour was published in National Geographic in 1967.1 In that photograph the figures are positioned less formally and look cheerful. But it is this second image, probably taken seconds later, which Moore printed in black-and-white, that has become symbolic of national identity as it represents a time when Australia’s rapidly developing industrialised economy addressed its labour shortage through immigration. The strength of the horizontal composition of cropped figures underpinned by the ship’s rail is dramatised by the central figure raising her hand – an ambiguous gesture either reaching for a future or reconnecting with family. The complexity of the subject and the narrative the image implies ensured its public success, which resulted in a deconstruction of the original title, ‘European migrants’, by the passengers, four of whom it later emerged were Sydneysiders returning from holiday, alongside two migrants from Egypt and Lebanon.2 Unintentionally Moore’s iconic image has become an ‘historical fiction’, yet the passengers continue to represent an evolving Australian identity in relation to immigration.

  1. Max Dupain and associates: Accessed 17/06/2006. No longer available online
  2. Thomas D & Sayers A 2000, From face to face: portraits by David Moore, Chapter & Verse, Sydney

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

From a posting on the exhibition The Photograph and Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

 

Henry Moore (England 1898-1986) 'Reclining figure distorted - Sectional line' 1979

 

Henry Moore (English, 1898-1986)
Reclining figure distorted – Sectional line
1979
Chalk, charcoal, wax crayon, ballpoint pen and watercolour over pencil
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Ginny Green, Sandra Bardas OAM family, Vicki Vidor OAM and Bindy Koadlow in memory of their parents Loti Smorgon AO and Victor Smorgon AC through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2014

 

William De Morgan (designer, England 1839-1917) 'Startled tigers, dish' c. 1880

 

William De Morgan & Co., London (manufacturer, England 1872-1911)
William De Morgan (designer, England 1839-1917)
Startled tigers, dish
c. 1880
Earthenware
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest 1980

 

Helen Ogilvie (Australia 1902-93) '(Four figures seated at a table listening to a phonograph through earpieces)' c. 1947

 

Helen Ogilvie (Australian, 1902-1993)
(Four figures seated at a table listening to a phonograph through earpieces)
Illustration to Flinders Lane: recollections of Alfred Felton by Russell Grimwade. Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1947
c. 1947
Wood-engraving on Japanese paper, proof
National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

“What interested me I think were the English wood engravers. I would have seen them in reproductions in books … I think it appealed to me as an artistic expression because it was done so directly with the hand. I know that when a painter is painting the hand is connected with the brain. But with wood engraving it seemed to me it was almost more so. And I got very worked up about it, but I had no way of learning … I know how I got started. Eric Thake was the man who said to me, “I’ll show you how to use your tool.”‘

from Anne Ryan, ‘Australian etchings and engravings 1880s-1930s from the Gallery’s collection’, AGNSW, Sydney 2007

 

John Perceval (Australia 1923-2000) 'Lover's walk in the corn, summer, England' 1964

 

John Perceval (Australian, 1923-2000)
Lover’s walk in the corn, summer, England
1964
Oil and toy mouse on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Fingal Pastoral Property Limited, Fellow, 1997

 

Peter Peryer (born New Zealand 1941) 'Seeing' 1989

 

Peter Peryer (New Zealand, 1941-2018)
Seeing
1989
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1996

 

G. B. Poletto (Italy 1915-88) 'No title (Ava Gardner in wardrobe still for On the beach: Street)' 1957

 

G. B. Poletto (Italian, 1915-1988)
No title (Ava Gardner in wardrobe still for On the beach: Street)
1957
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 2003

 

David Potts (Australia 1926-2012, lived in England 1950-55) 'Cat show, London' 1953

 

David Potts (Australian, 1926-2012, lived in England 1950-55)
Cat show, London
1953
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased through the KODAK (Australasia) Pty Ltd Fund 1975

 

August Sander (Germany 1876-1964) 'Itinerant basket makers' 1929

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Itinerant basket makers
from the People of the Twentieth Century project
1929, printed 1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased 1974

 

 

Nomadism

In the literature on nomadism, there is considerable disagreement over the range of societies that should be designated as “nomadic,” but there is some consensus that at least three categories of mobile peoples should be recognised. The first category, to which many wish to restrict the term “nomadic,” is that of pastoral nomads… The second broad category of nomads is that of hunter-gatherers, whose mode of subsistence sets them apart from both pastoralists and sedentary farmers…

The third basic category is that of Gypsies, itinerant basket-makers, tinkers, weavers, mimes, magicians, musicians, horse dealers, nostrum traders, carnival people, circus performers, and so on. Characterised the variously as “service nomads,” “economic nomads,” “commercial nomads,” “craftsman nomads,” “non-food producing nomads,” “floating industrial populations,” “peripatetic tribes,” “peripatetic peoples” or plain “peripatetics,” these are spatially mobile peoples who primarily exploit resources in the social environment. They exploit what Berland and Salo call a distinct peripatetic niche: “the regular demand for specialised goods and/or services that more sedentary or pastoral communities cannot, or will not, support on a permanent basis.”

Ronald Bogue. Deleuze’s Way: Essays in Transverse Ethics and Aesthetics. London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 114-115.

 

Ben Shahn (born Lithuania 1898, lived in United States c. 1925-69, died United States 1969) 'A deputy with a gun on his hip during the September 1935 strike in Morgantown, West Virginia' 1935, printed c. 1975

 

Ben Shahn (born Lithuania 1898, lived in United States c. 1925-69, died United States 1969)
A deputy with a gun on his hip during the September 1935 strike in Morgantown, West Virginia
1935, printed c. 1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased, 1975

 

Athol Shmith (Australia 1914-90) 'Misses Mary and Rae Plotkin, bridesmaids at the wedding of Mrs Edith Sheezel' 1940

 

Athol Shmith (Australian, 1914-1990)
Misses Mary and Rae Plotkin, bridesmaids at the wedding of Mrs Edith Sheezel
1940
Hand-coloured gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Gift of Mary Lipshut through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gift’s Program, 2012

 

Baron Raimund von Stillfried (Austria 1839-1911, lived throughout Europe and Asia 1871-1910) 'No title (Tattooed bettōs, porters)' c. 1875, printed c. 1877-80

 

Baron Raimund von Stillfried (Austrian, 1839-1911, lived throughout Europe and Asia 1871-1910)
No title (Tattooed bettōs, porters)
c. 1875, printed c. 1877-80
Albumen silver photograph, colour dyes
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased through the NGV Foundation with the assistance of The Herald & Weekly Times Limited, Fellow, 2001

 

 

“There are two employments which I have mentioned among those of domestic servants because they would be so classed by us, but which in Japan rank among the trades. The jinrikisha man and the groom belong, as a rule, to a certain class at the bottom of the social ladder, and no samurai would think of entering either of these occupations, except under stress of severest poverty. The bettōs, or grooms, are a hereditary class and a regular guild, and have a reputation, among both Japanese and foreigners, as a betting, gambling, cheating, good-for-nothing lot. An honest bettō is a rare phenomenon.”

Alice Mabel Bacon. Japanese Girls and Women. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company The Riverside Press, 1891, p. 319.

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (born Japan 1948, lived in United States and Japan 1976- ) 'Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount' 1993

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (born Japan 1948, lived in United States and Japan 1976- )
Winnetka Drive-In, Pb  aramount
1993
Gelatin silver photograph, ed. 8/25
National Gallery of Victoria
Bowness Family Fund for Contemporary Photography, 2009

 

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s famous series Theaters is represented in the exhibition by the work Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount (1993) where  Sugimoto “photographs auditoriums of American movie theaters, and drive-in movies, during showings. The exposure time used for the photograph corresponds with the projection time of the film. This allows him to save the duration of the entire film in a single shot. What remains visible of the film’s time-compressed, individual images is the bright screen of the movie theater, which illuminates the architecture of the space. That its content retreats into the background makes the actual film a piece of information, manifesting itself in the (movie theater) space. As a result, instead of a content-related event, film presents itself here as the relationship between time and spatial perception.”3

If we think of the camera lens as being fully open, like an eye without blinking, for the duration of the length of the film then the shutter of the lens has to be set on “B” for Bulb which allows for long exposure times under the direct control of the photographer. “The term bulb is a reference to old-style pneumatically actuated shutters; squeezing an air bulb would open the shutter and releasing the bulb would close it… It appears that when instantaneous shutters were introduced, they included a B setting so that the familiar bulb behaviour could be duplicated with a cable release.”4 In other words light waves, reflecting from the surface of objects, are controlled by the photographer over an indefinite period (not the short “snap” of the freeze frame / the decisive moment), accumulating light from thousands of years in the past through the lens of the camera onto the focal plane, coalescing into a single image, controlled and constructed by the photographer.

Dr Marcus Bunyan from a review of the NGV exhibition Light Works (2012)

3. Kellein, Thomas and Sugimoto, Hiroshi. Time Exposed. Thames & Hudson, First edition, 1995, p. 91, quoted on the Media Art Net website. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.
4. Anon. “Bulb (photography),” on the Wikipedia website. Nd. [Online] Cited 08/09/2012.

 

James Thomas (England 1854-1921, lived in Italy 1889-1906) 'Thyrsis' 1914

 

James Thomas (English, 1854-1921, lived in Italy 1889-1906)
Thyrsis
1914
Bronze, patina
National Gallery of Victoria
Felton Bequest, 1915

 

Joseph Turner (active in Australia 1856- 1880s) 'No title (Laying the foundation stone of the Geelong clock tower)' 1856

 

Joseph Turner (active in Australia 1856- 1880s)
No title (Laying the foundation stone of the Geelong clock tower)
1856
Daguerreotype leather, wood, silk, gilt metal and glass (case)
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased, 1974

 

 

Market Square was a town square located in the centre of Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Consisting of eight acres (2.9 hectares) of land, the area was reserved by Governor Sir George Gipps as a town square during the initial surveying of Geelong. The area later became a produce market, before being progressively built upon. Today the Market Square Shopping Centre occupies the site, having been opened in 1985 by the City of Geelong…

A clock tower was built in the centre of the square in 1856. It was the idea of the second mayor of Geelong James Austin, who offered to pay for a clock tower in Geelong to mark his term as mayor. The clock was featured in The Illustrated London News in March 1855. Components for the clock arrived in Geelong on November 13, 1855 from England, but the location for the clock had yet to be decided. Suggestions of high ground at top of Moorabool, Yarra or Gheringhap Streets were put forward at the time, the indecision lasting into early 1856. In July 1857 a decision was made, and the foundation stone was finally laid in the Market Square…

The clock tower remained until October 1923 when it was demolished to make way for the CML Building. There was a public outcry, and no one was willing to demolish it. However, it was deemed too impractical to move intact, and was brought down by steel cables attached to traction engine. The site of the clock tower is marked by a plaque in the Market Square Shopping Centre.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

William Wegman (born United States 1943) 'Horned hound' 1991

 

William Wegman (American, b. 1943)
Horned hound
1991
Polaroid photograph
National Gallery of Victoria
Purchased, 1992

 

 

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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05
Mar
17

Exhibition: ‘David Hockney: Current’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 11th November 2016 – 13th March 2017

 

David Hockney. "Untitled" 2009 iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Untitled, 91
2009
iPhone drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

 

Drawing inside the line

What Hockney does not do in his recent work, is draw inside the line.* By this I mean he fails to invest each line with feeling and empathy. For Hockney, the line is only a means to an end, for his art is basically reductive: how little can I get away with to impart my message.

The Yosemite paintings riff off Ansel Adams photographs; the 82 portraits & 1 still life (2013-2016, below) are some of the most dire portraits I have seen in a long time; and the paintings within paintings (or videos with split screens), develop his earlier Polaroid photography work with multiple perspectives making up one image, to little benefit. He even self quotes in A bigger card players (2015, below) with a painting of his earlier photographic work in the background.

Recently there were 553 Likes on one posting on the NGV Facebook page – it’s marvellous, fabulous, love the colours, just brilliant – and not a critical word to be heard. You could call this a kind of popular hysteria. But there has been little professional buzz around the exhibition.

For the viewer there is the invitation to reimagine, to see the world in different ways. But am I convinced? Not at all. I’ve seen the exhibition twice and have been totally underwhelmed both times. It’s just a contemporary version of Etch A Sketch – iPad art for the noughties.

Further, there seems to be little feeling about the whole enterprise. It’s as though he couldn’t push the art out fast enough, just like taking selfies on an iPhone and uploading them to Instagram. And this interchange between computer and eye, where the paintings look like computer aided anythings – is just rubbish.

I’ll leave you with a long but important text by Max Raphael quoted in John Berger’s Landscapes (below). Here Raphael articulates the concept of pictorial space and denotes the importance of an intensity of figuration. For Raphael, originality of constitution is NOT the urge to be different from others (iPad paintings etc…), it is the grasping of the origin of things: the roots of both ourselves and things. While suggestive form is a form of shorthand for the artist to convey the contents and feelings within himself to the viewer as Raphael notes, the artist must act upon the whole man, i.e. he must make the viewer live in the work’s own mode of reality.

This is something that Hockney never gets inside and never achieves. In the end the work is just appearance and illusion or, as someone said to me recently, smoke and mirrors.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the NGV for allowing me to publish the media images in this posting (first section of the posting).

All other images © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Not to be reproduced without permission.

 

 

David Hockney. "Untitled, 22 January 2011" iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Untitled, 655
2011
iPad drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

 

What are the methods of figuration?

1. The structuring of space.
2. The rendering of forms within that space effective.

The structuring of space has nothing to do with perspective: it’s tasks are to dislocate space so that it ceases to be static (the simplest example is that of the forward-coming relaxed leg in standing Greek figures) and to divide space into quanta so that we become conscious of its divisibility, and thus cease to be creatures of its continuity (for example, the receding planes parallel to the picture surface in late Cezannes). “To create pictorial space is to penetrate not only into the depths of the picture but also into the depths of our intellectual system of co-ordinates (which matches that of the world). Depth of space is depth of essence or else it is nothing but appearance and illusion.”

“The distinction between actual form and effective form is as follows: Actual form is descriptive; effective form is suggestive, i.e. through it the artist, instead of trying to convey the contents and feelings to the viewer by fully describing them, provides him only with as many clues as he needs to produce these contents and feelings within himself. To achieve this the artist must act not upon individual sense organs but upon the whole man, i.e. he must make the viewer live in the work’s own m.ode of reality.”

What does figuration, with this special material (see above), achieve?

“Intensity of figuration is not display of the artist’s strength; not vitality, which animates the outer world with the personal energies of the creative artist; not logical or emotional consistency, with which a limited problem is thought through or felt through to its ultimate consequences. What it does denote is the degree to which the very essence of art has been realised: the undoing of the world of things, the construction of the world of values, and hence the constitution of a new world. The originality of this constitution provides us with a general criterion by which we can measure intensity of figuration. Originality of constitution is not the urge to be different from others, to produce something entirely new; it is … the grasping of the origin: the roots of both ourselves and things.”

Max Raphael quoted in John Berger. “Revolutionary Undoing: On Max Raphael’s The Demands of Art,” John Berger. Landscapes. London and New York: Verso, 2016, pp. 50-51.

 

* “A line, an area of tone, is important not really because it records what you have seen, but because of what it will lead you on to see. Following up its logic in order to check its accuracy, you find confirmation or denial in the object itself or in your memory of it. Each confirmation or denial brings you closer to the object, until finally you are, as it were, inside it: the contours you have drawn no longer marking the edge of what you have seen, but the edge of what you have become.”

John Berger. “The Basis of All Painting and Sculpture is Drawing,” in John Berger. Landscapes. London and New York: Verso, 2016, p. 27.

 

David Hockney. "Self Portrait, 25 March 2012, No. 3" iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Self Portrait, 25 March 2012, No. 3 (1236)
iPad drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

David Hockney. "Self Portrait, 20 March 2012" iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Self-portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219)
iPad drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

David Hockney. "Self Portrait, 21 March 2012" iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Self-portrait, 21 March 2012 (1223)
iPad drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

David Hockney. "Self Portrait, 25 March 2012, No. 2" iPad Drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Self-portrait, 25 March 2012, No. 2 (1233)
iPad drawing
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique' 2007

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique
2007
Oil on 50 canvases
459.0 x 1225.0cm (overall)
Tate, London
Presented by the artist 2008 (T12887)
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney "Yosemite I, October 16th 2011" © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Yosemite I, October 16th 2011 (1059)
iPad drawing printed on four sheets of paper (39 x 35″ each) mounted on four sheets of Dibond
Edition of 12
77 3/4 x 69 3/4″ overall
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney "The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 31 May, No. 1" iPad drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 31 May, No. 1
iPad drawing printed on six sheets of paper (46 1/2 x 35″ each), mounted on four sheets of Dibond
Edition of 10
290.8 x 218.4cm (overall)
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney. "The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 29 January" iPad drawing © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 29 January
iPad drawing printed on four sheets of paper (46 1/2 x 35″ each), mounted on four sheets of Dibond
Edition of 10
290.8 x 218.4cm (overall)
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney. "Barry Humphries, 26-28 March" 2015 Acrylic on canvas 48 x 36" © David Hockney

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Barry Humphries, 26-28 March
2015
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 36″
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The group XI, 7-11 July 2014'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The group XI, 7-11 July 2014
Acrylic on canvas
122.0 x 183.0cm
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '4 blue stools' 2014

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
4 blue stools
2014
Photographic drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond
edition 5 of 25
170.3 x 175.9cm (image)
Collection David Hockney Foundation
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'A bigger card players' 2015

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
A bigger card players
2015
Photographic drawing printed on paper mounted on aluminium
edition 1 of 12
177.2 x 177.2cm
Collection David Hockney Foundation
© David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The jugglers' 2012

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The jugglers
2012
18 digital videos synchronized and presented on 18 55-inch screens to comprise a single artwork
22 min
205.7 x 728.0cm (overall)
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney

 

 

The National Gallery of Victoria presents a major solo exhibition of one of the most influential artists of the past century, David Hockney: Current, open until 13 March 2017 at NGV International. The exhibition, curated by the NGV in collaboration with David Hockney and his studio, features more than 1200 works from the past decade of the artist’s career – some new and most never-before-seen in Australia – including paintings, digital drawings, photography and video works.

Exhibition highlights include hundreds of extraordinary and sometimes animated, iPad digital drawings of still life compositions, self-portraits and large-scale landscapes including scenes of Yosemite National Park. Another highlight is The four seasons, Woldgate Woods (Spring 2011, Summer 2010, Autumn 2010, Winter 2010), a breath-taking and immersive video work showcasing the changing landscape of Hockney’s native Yorkshire, each season comprised of nine high-definition screens. A dedicated 60-metre long gallery lined with more than 80 recently painted acrylic portrait paintings of the artist’s family, friends and notable subjects including artists John Baldessari and Barry Humphries is also a major highlight.

Arguably Britain’s greatest living contemporary artist, David Hockney, 79, today works prolifically as a painter, also experimenting and mastering new technologies, producing thousands of drawings and works created on iPhone, iPad and in video. The artist will create a number of new works for the exhibition including an immersive room installation, which will be exhibited for the first time at the NGV.

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV said: ‘It is a privilege to collaborate with David Hockney, one of the world’s most celebrated and truly innovative artists, to develop this exhibition which features dynamic new works and highlights of his oeuvre from the past decade. His recent use of cutting-edge technology will provide an engaging experience for visitors and reveal the mastery and skill behind his ever-evolving practice.’

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said: ‘Presenting the work of the illustrious artist David Hockney is yet another coup for the NGV and presents an unprecedented opportunity for Victorians and all visitors to the state to experience the work of one of the world’s greatest living artists. It will no doubt be another must-see event on Victoria’s cultural calendar this summer.’

Other highlights of the exhibition include Bigger Trees Near Warter, Hockney’s largest painting comprised of 50 oil on canvas panels, and the centrepiece of Hockney’s hugely popular exhibition A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy, London and now owned by the Tate. Transforming the gallery, the three remaining walls of this space will display 1:1 digital versions of the same work and it will be the first time that this major work has been exhibited in Australia.

Hockney’s continued investigation into multi-point perspective will be represented by The Jugglers, an 18-screen, 22-minute video that depicts the artist in a room of jugglers, injecting Hockney’s signature playfulness into the exhibition. Again utilising technology to reveal a study in perspective, Hockney’s Seven Yorkshire Landscapes is a 12-minute multi-viewpoint video displayed on 18 tiled, 55-inch monitors which will monumentally showcase the extraordinary landscape.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'iPad drawings' 2010-16

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'iPad drawings' 2010-16

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'iPad drawings' 2010-16

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'iPad drawings' 2010-16

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'iPad drawings' 2010-16

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
iPad drawings
2010-16
iPad drawings, animations
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

The largest change in Hockney’s drawing technique at this time came with the artist’s adoption of the iPad. The surface of the iPad is much larger than the iPhone’s and is more in keeping with the scale of a traditional sketchbook. Soon after adopting the new device Hockney began drawing with a stylus rather than his finger. This was a significant development because it allowed him to continue his approach to drawing, developed throughout his career, on the new device.

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique 2007 Oil on 50 canvases 459.0 x 1225.0 cm (overall) Tate, London

David Hockney (English 1937- ) Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique 2007 Oil on 50 canvases 459.0 x 1225.0 cm (overall) Tate, London

David Hockney (English 1937- ) Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique 2007 Oil on 50 canvases 459.0 x 1225.0 cm (overall) Tate, London

David Hockney (English 1937- ) Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique 2007 Oil on 50 canvases 459.0 x 1225.0 cm (overall) Tate, London

David Hockney (English 1937- ) Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique 2007 Oil on 50 canvases 459.0 x 1225.0 cm (overall) Tate, London

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Bigger trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel age post-photographique
2007
Oil on 50 canvases
459.0 x 1225.0cm (overall)
Tate, London
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

The approach taken by Hockney in making this enormous work was technically innovative and complex. Working closely with his assistant Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima (J-P), Hockney first painted each canvas on site, and at the end of every day’s work J-P digitally documented the progress made. Prints were then created from the digital images, making it possible to compare and contrast multiple canvases and check the progress of the overall picture at the location. In this presentation the painting is flanked by three versions printed from digital documentation of the canvases.

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May'

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 4 May
iPad drawing printed on six sheets of paper (46 1/2 x 35″ each), mounted on four sheets of Dibond
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)' (various)

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)' (various)

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)' (various)

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 2 January'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)
iPad drawings and animations
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

The full suite of iPad drawings from the series The arrival of spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) are presented here on monitors as final works and as animations showing each stroke of their creation.

 

 

Exhibition highlights and themes

iPHONE AND iPAD DRAWINGS

Hockney has a large pocket inside every suit he owns – it used to contain a sketchbook, now it holds an iPad. A hallmark of Hockney’s career has been constant experimentation with new technologies. Since the 1970s, Hockney has made art using Polaroid photography, colour photocopying, the fax machine, computers, high-definition multi-screen video and, in recent years, iPhones and iPads. These drawings also give charming insight into Hockney’s domestic life in Yorkshire, depicting slippers, bedclothes, pots of teas and flowers.

 

BIGGER TREES NEAR WARTER

Hockney grew up in Yorkshire in the city of Bradford; however, he left the district around age twenty – first for London, then briefly for Paris, before moving to Los Angeles. In 2004, Hockney returned to Yorkshire and set up a residence in the countryside. There, Hockney took much inspiration from the intensity of the seasons in Yorkshire. After living in California with its strong even light and mild temperature, Yorkshire offered intensely changing seasons and constantly modulating light.

Bigger Trees Near Warter is David Hockney’s largest painting and comprises fifty smaller canvases that combine to make one giant work. The work transports the viewer to the Yorkshire countryside in wintertime and surrounds them in a thicket of deciduous trees, their bare winter branches in a tangle above the viewer’s head. Bigger Trees is arguably the largest work ever painted en plein air and was mapped using computers and digital photography.

 

THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING

Prior to 2004, David Hockney was not considered to be a landscape painter; however, a return to his childhood home of Yorkshire inspired a profound artistic response to the local countryside. Hockney’s close attention to the changing seasons and moods of Yorkshire is reminiscent of Monet at Giverny, Cézanne at Aix-en-Provence, Corot at the Forest of Fontainebleau and Constable at Suffolk.

The digital drawings in the series The arrival of spring in Woldgate are bursting with the energy of springtime: trees full of blossom, luxurious pastures, and colourful flowers returning to life after the hiatus of winter.

 

YOSEMITE

Hockney’s digital drawings of Yosemite National Park in California, an area famous for its ancient sequoia trees and immense granite cliffs, highlight the artist’s interest in pictorial space. If The Arrival of Spring images featured relatively crowded, cloistered landscapes, the Yosemite series explores expansive vistas of mountains and towering trees.

The digital canvas on an iPad or iPhone is endlessly expandable, allowing Hockney to zoom in to add infinitely more detail, and then zoom back out to view the whole, expansive composition.

 

82 PORTRAITS & 1 STILL LIFE

This monumental portrait series started with a portrait of Hockney’s studio manager, J-P Gonçalves de Lima. In 2013, Hockney and his studio team suffered a tragedy when 23-year-old studio assistant, Dominic Elliot, unexpectedly died. The loss of this young talented man, who had worked with Hockney for a number of years, plunged the close-knit studio community into a profound grief and Hockney ceased making work. Hockney’s art-making hiatus ended with the cathartic creation of the portrait of J-P, who Hockney observed with his head in his hands – a pose that encapsulated their shared grief.

The other portraits depict Hockney’s close friends and family, including Australia’s own Barry Humphries, architect Frank Gehry and artist John Baldessari. Sitters posed for Hockney for twenty hours across three days, a strenuous feat for both sitter and the artist. When a sitter was unable to attend one day, Hockney turned to his stocks of fruit and vegetables. The whole series consequently has the charming title 82 portraits & 1 still life.

 

PHOTOGRAPHIC DRAWINGS

The world premiere, large-scale wallpaper work titled 4 blue stools is a digitally constructed image of David Hockney’s studio in the Hollywood Hills and features various friends and studio assistants. Referred to as a ‘photographic drawing’ by the artist, the work is a constructed image in which different photographs are digitally sutured together to create one reality. The people, the chairs, the paintings are photographed separately and from different angles and then joined together to create one single, disorientating composition that challenges the conventions of photography.

 

THE JUGGLERS

This multi-screened video work depicts a room of jugglers who were filmed using eighteen synched video cameras, each set to a slightly different zoom. The overall resulting image is disjointed and prompts the viewer to look more carefully at the scene. The work challenges the notion of single point perspective by offering multiple perspectives that aim to replicate some of the complexity of a human being’s lived experience in time and space.

 

A BIGGER CARD PLAYERS

A Bigger Card Players is a single image that further highlights Hockney’s continued interest in perspective and space. On first look, this image appears as a relatively commonplace photograph of men playing cards; however, on closer inspection, Hockney’s playful disorientation of space and perspective becomes more apparent.

 

THE FOUR SEASONS, WOLDGATE WOODS

Presented on four large panels, each comprising nine high definition screens, The four seasons, Woldgate Woods (Spring 2011, Summer 2010, Autumn 2010, Winter 2010) is an immersive video work that surrounds the spectator in the changing seasons of the Yorkshire landscape. Each film was shot using nine cameras, shooting simultaneously. The cameras were attached to a rig that moved slowly through the landscape. Like The Jugglers, each camera was set to a slightly different zoom and captures a different perspective of the same landscape and offers the viewer a new way of seeing the world around them.

Text from the NGV media kit

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '82 portraits & 1 still life' (installation view) 2013-2016

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '82 portraits & 1 still life' (installation view) 2013-2016

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '82 portraits & 1 still life' (installation view) 2013-2016

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '82 portraits & 1 still life' (installation view) 2013-2016

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
82 portraits & 1 still life (installation views)
2013-2016
Acrylic on canvas
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

82 portraits & 1 still life is a major series of acrylic on canvas paintings created between 2013 and 2016. Each of the works was painted by Hockney while standing, in direct visual relationship to his subject, over a three day period. The works are shown here chronologically, beginning with the portrait to the left of J-P. The paintings depict many people connected with Hockney’s daily life, and others he invited to sit for him. When viewed together, uninterrupted – as they are here for the first time – the works also capture Hockney’s unwavering artistic drive.

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Augustus and Perry Barringer, 16th, 17th June 2014'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Augustus and Perry Barringer, 16th, 17th June 2014
Acrylic on canvas
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '82 portraits & 1 still life' (installation view) 2013-2016

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Frank Gehry, 24th, 25th February 2016 and Edith Devaney, 11th, 12th, 13th February 2016 (installation view)
2013-2016
Acrylic on canvas
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

Edith Devaney is a contemporary art curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, where she curated the recent Hockney exhibition 82 Portraits & 1 Still Life. She contributed the text ‘Where do I end and they begin?’ to the David Hockney: Current exhibition publication, in which she observes: ‘The process is a very physical one for Hockney and he exhibits great mobility, continually moving forwards and backwards to look at the canvas close up and then from a few feet back … Throughout this process the level of concentration and intensity is unabated; it is clear that any exhaustion is balanced by the sheer joy of creation’.

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Julie Green, 11th, 12th, 13th January 2015' and 'Doris Velasco, 5th, 6th January 2015' (installation view) 2013-2016

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Julie Green, 11th, 12th, 13th January 2015 and Doris Velasco, 5th, 6th January 2015 (installation view)
2013-2016
Acrylic on canvas
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Yosemite I, October 5th 2011' (detail)

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Yosemite I, October 5th 2011 (detail)
iPad drawing printed on six sheets of paper mounted on six sheets of Dibond
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Yosemite II, October 16th 2011' (detail)

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Yosemite II, October 16th 2011 (detail)
iPad drawing printed on six sheets of paper mounted on six sheets of Dibond
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Yosemite III, October 5th 2011' (detail)

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Yosemite III, October 5th 2011 (detail)
iPad drawing printed on six sheets of paper mounted on six sheets of Dibond
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Yosemite' series (installation view) 2011

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'Yosemite' series (installation view) 2011

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Yosemite series (installation views)
2011
iPad drawings
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

The body of work shown in this gallery depicts Yosemite National Park in California, United States, captured on location by Hockney on an iPad in same way he created the Arrival of Spring series. The change of light in these works is clearly different to that in the Arrival of Spring – more intense, harsher – and the scale of the landscapes more colossal than the winding roads of the Woldgate Woods works. The grand scale of these prints and the bank of monitors imparts some of the humbling experience of standing before the ancient sequoia trees and granite cliffs of Yosemite.

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The chairs' and 'four blue stools' 2014

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The chairs
2014
Photographic drawing printed on self-adhesive paper

4 blue stools
2014
Photographic drawing printed on self-adhesive paper

Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) '4 blue stools' 2014

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
4 blue stools
2014
Photographic drawing mounted on Dibond
edition of 25
Collection David Hockney Foundation
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The group XI, 7-11 July 2014'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The group XI, 7-11 July 2014
Acrylic on canvas
122.0 x 183.0cm
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The chairs' 2014

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The chairs
2014
Photographic drawing mounted on Dibond
edition of 25
Collection David Hockney Foundation
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

David Hockney (English 1937- ) 'The group VII, 20-27 May 2014'

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
The group VII, 20-27 May 2014
Acrylic on canvas
Collection of the artist
Photo: © David Hockney, Dr Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria

 

 

Extracts from David Hockney’s The jugglers (2012)

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours for exhibition
10am – 5pm daily

National Gallery of Victoria website

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20
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland’ at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

Exhibition dates: 2nd November 2013 – 26th January 2014
MOCA Pacific Design Center

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART WORK OF MALE NUDITY AND EROTIC IMAGES OF GAY MALE SEX – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968' 1968

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968
1968
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

What a fantastic pairing in this exhibition and in their relationship in real life. We must remember that Tom of Finland was a ground-breaking artist, one of the very first to picture masculine gay men, “robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex.”

He would have only just been in his twenties when he started drawing men in the early 1940s, inspired by the soldiers and uniforms he saw around him from the Second World War. With no outward gay culture in Finland, let alone in America until the late 1960s, just imagine being an artist producing this kind of erotic imagery at that time. To go on to be the seminal figure in the creation of gay leather culture… what an impact this artist had on gay and popular culture. Of course, as tastes were liberalised in the era of free love, Stonewall and after, the muscles of his hunks became bigger, the size of their endowments larger and the actions portrayed became more open and transparent (as can be seen from Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story), 1971, below).

During my PhD research I visited the One Institute/International Gay and Lesbian Archives Collection, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, to investigate the cross-over between physique magazines and early gay pornography magazines of the 1960s to early 1970s. I was interested to see whether the muscular mesomorphic bodies of the physique magazines crossed straight over into the first gay pornography magazines. To my surprise, the answer was that they did not.

After the American Supreme Court ruled on obscenity laws in the late 1960s, the first gay pornography magazines started appearing. The earliest gay porn magazine in the One Institute / IGLA collection, Action Line. No.1. San Francisco: Mark Vaughn Associates. 1969, features mostly smooth but natural bodies, not as built as in physique magazines, with nude young men with full erections lying next too each other touching. There is no sex, no sucking or fucking. Only a year later, in 1970, the story is different. In Album 1501: A Study of Sexual Activity Between Males. Los Angeles: Greyhuff Publishing, 1970 their is sexual intercourse pictured between men in an openly available publication for the first time.

Bodies in this magazine are smooth, young toned men, much as in the early photographs of George Platt Lynes (such as those of Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley, and Bradbury Ball). They are also similar to the bodies in the photographs that Lynes submitted to the Zurich published homosexual magazine Der Kries after he found out that he had cancer, during the last years of his life (under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf late 1940s – early 1950s). The participants in Album 1501 perform sex on each other in a lounge room lit by strong lights (shadows on walls). The black and white photographs, well shot, feature in a magazine that 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.

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 male to male sex is a natural phenomenon and the publication is educational. This was a common ploy in early nudist and pornographic publications (along with classical themes) that was used to justify the content – to claim that the material was for private educational purposes only:

.
Introduction.

“Publishers of material dealing frankly with sexual activity have suffered greatly in the past because of society’s anxiety over the existence and propagation of such material. But the real issue is why should such material dealing with sexual activity be any less valid or acceptable than material dealing with other facets of human behaviour? …
This book was produced so that all interested adults may have an opportunity to acquire it for their own private interests in matters relating to sex …
Our publication of this book is not to be construed that we agree with, condone or encourage any of the behaviour depicted herein. However, sexual activity between males is a fact of life and interested adults should not be denied an opportunity to study this, or any other, facet of human behaviour.”

.
The Publishers.

 

It is interesting to note the progression from physique magazines and models in posing pouches in 1966-68 (such as the photographs of Bob Mizer featured in this posting), 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. It was not until the development of the clone, leatherman and magazines such a Colt from Colt Studios that Tom of Finland’s muscular mesomorphic leatherman took hold in the popular gay imagination.

Even in the mid 1970’s 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. In their early magazines quite a large proportion of the bodies were hirsute or had moustaches as was popular with the ‘clone’ image at the time. Later Colt models of the early 1980’s 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.

Photographers such as Bob Mizer from Athletic Model Guild produced more openly homoerotic images. In his work from the 1970’s 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 1970’s.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA) for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1962

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1962
Graphite on paper
12.00″ x 9.50″
ToFF Cat. #62.27, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1962 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962' 1962

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962
1962
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957' 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957
1957
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961' 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961
1961
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (1 of 4 from 'Circus Life' series) 1961

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (1 of 4 from Circus Life series)
1961
Graphite on paper
12.25″ x 9.75″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #61.11
© 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Jim Horn, Los Angeles' c. 1966

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Jim Horn, Los Angeles
c. 1966
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles' c. 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles
c. 1961
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1968

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1968
Graphite on paper
12.94″ x 9.38″
ToFF Cat. #68.06, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1968 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Youthful Innocence' 1969

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Youthful Innocence
1969
The New Biker Stud – Bob Mizer title
Graphite on paper
11.75″ x 8.50″
ToFF Cat. #69.02, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (No.1 from 'Cyclist and the Farm Boy' series) 1973

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (No.1 from Cyclist and the Farm Boy series)
1973
Graphite on paper
11″ x 8″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #73.10
© 1973 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

“To my mind, there is no clearer representation of Mizer’s almost manic attempts to condense the joyful, celebratory chaos of his daily photo shoots down to their most selectively stupendous moments than his catalogue boards.” ~ artist and exhibition co-curator Richard Hawkins

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), is proud to present Bob Mizer and Tom of the Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Bob Mizer (1922-1992) and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (1920-1991), two of the most significant figures of twentieth century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture. The exhibition features a selection of Tom of Finland’s masterful drawings and collages, alongside Mizer’s rarely seen photo-collage “catalogue boards” and films, as well as a comprehensive collection of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial, where drawings by Tom were first published in 1957. Organised by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and guest co-curator Richard Hawkins, the exhibition is presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

Tom of Finland is the creator of some of the most iconic and readily recognisable imagery of post-war gay culture. He produced thousands of images beginning in the 1940s, robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex. His most innovative achievement though, worked out in fastidious renderings of gear, props, settings and power relations inherent therein, was to create the depictions that would eventually become the foundation of an emerging gay leather culture. Tom imagined the leather scene by drawing it; real men were inspired by it … and suited themselves up.

Bob Mizer began photographing as early as 1942 but, unlike many of his contemporaries in the subculture of illicit physique nudes, Mizer took the Hollywood star-system approach and founded the Athletic Model Guild in 1945, a film and photo studio specialising in handsome natural-bodied (as opposed to exclusively musclebound, the norm of the day) boy-next-door talent. In his myriad satirical prison dramas, sci-fi flix, domesticated bachelor scenarios and elegantly captivating studio sessions, Mizer photographed and filmed over 10,000 models at a rough estimate of 60 photos a day, seven days a week for almost 50 years. Mizer always presented a fresh-faced and free, unashamed and gregarious, totally natural and light-hearted approach to male nudity and intimate physical contact between men. For these groundbreaking perspectives in eroticised representation alone, Mizer ranks with Alfred Kinsey at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

Though Laaksonen did not move to Los Angeles until the 1970s, he had long known of Mizer and the photographer’s work through Physique Pictorial, the house publication and sales tool for Athletic Model Guild. It was to this magazine that the artist first sent his drawings and it was Mizer, finding the artworks remarkable and seeking to promote them on the magazine’s cover, but finding the artist’s Finnish name too difficult for his clientele, who is responsible for the now famous “Tom of Finland” pseudonym.

By the time the gay liberation movement swept through the United States in the late 1960s, both Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer were already well-known and widely celebrated as veritable pioneers of gay art. Decades before Stonewall and the raid on the Black Cat these evocative and lusty representations of masculine desire and joyful, eager sex between men proliferated and were disseminated worldwide at a time when the closet was still very much the norm – there was no such thing as a gay community. If these artists were not ahead of their time, they might just have foreseen and even invented a time.

Spanning five decades, the exhibition seeks a wider appreciation for Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer’s work, considering their aesthetic influence on generations of artists, both gay and straight, among them, Kenneth Anger, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, David Hockney, G.B. Jones, Mike Kelley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Henrik Olesen, Jack Pierson, John Waters, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition also acknowledges the profound cultural and social impact both artists have made, especially in providing open, powerful imagery for a community of desires at a time when it was still very much criminal. Presenting the broader historical context and key aspects of their shared interests and working relationship, as well as more in-depth solo rooms dedicated to each artist, the exhibition establishes the art historical importance of the staggering work of these legendary figures.

In addition to approximately 75 finished and preparatory drawings by Tom of Finland spanning 1947-1991, the exhibition includes a selection of Tom’s never before exhibited scrapbook collages, and examples of his serialised graphic novels, including the legendary leatherman Kake, as well as a selection of Mizer’s “catalogue boards,” AMG films, and a complete set of Physique Pictorial magazine. An accompanying publication includes texts by the exhibition co-curators and a selection of images.

Press release from the MOCA website

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 1' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 1 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.75″
COQ International Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.24
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Jungle Seafood' story) 1972

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Jungle Seafood story)
1972
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.63″ x 6.94″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #72.41
© 1972 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.45
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 197

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.58
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.61
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

 

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19
Jan
13

Exhibition: ‘Bob Mizer: ARTIFACTS’ at Invisible-Exports, New York / Research into photographs of men at the Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana 1999

Exhibition dates: 14th December 2012 – 27th January 27 2013

 

Bob Mizer. 'Rick Gordon, rooftop studio, Los Angeles' 1972

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Rick Gordon, rooftop studio, Los Angeles
1972
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
10.5 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

** Warning this posting contains male nudity – oh no! **

There are some appealing but relatively tame photographs from one of the doyens of male physique photography from the 1950s-1970s in this posting. More interesting to me are the photographs that never get published or shown in a gallery. While visiting The Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Indiana as part of my PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male in 2001 I made a list of all the physique photographers present in their collection, as well as annotated notes on the photographs of Baron von Gloeden, George Platt Lynes, male homosexual catalogue photographs, male homosexual photographs and male2male sex photographs. Unfortunately almost nothing of this amazing collection of photographs at The Kinsey has ever been published, mainly I suspect due to the prudish nature of American society.

The physique photographers include artists such as Russ Warner, Al Urban, Lon of New York (who began their careers in the late 1930’s), Bob Mizer (started Athletic Model Guild (AMG) in 1945 and later, on his own, Physique Pictorial), Charles Renslow (started Kris studio in 1954), Bruce of Los Angeles, Douglas: Detroit, Dick Falcon, Melan, Karl Eller and Physique Culture and Early Homosexual Magazines.

Bob Mizer set up AMG in 1945 to photograph male bodybuilders and it is now the oldest male model photography studio in the United States of America. All models in the photographs that I studied were well built, smooth, toned. Lots of outdoor shots! Models are usually quite young (18-22 approx.) Tiny waists and v shaped. For example Image No. 51820. 3 studio portraits of one smooth boy featuring twisted back, arms and torso to great effect. Total V shape. Lots of erotic wrestling photographs from AMG as well.

Although not showing nudes in publications such as Physique Pictorial, private photographs by Bob Mizer heavily feature nudity. Wide use made of projected backdrops – abstracts, leaves, mountains, ships, classical Roman ruins. 4″ x 5″ prints are much better than the 8″ x 10″ enlargements. The Annotations on back of both size images tell of the models jobs and sexual orientation and what they will or will not do sexually if known. It is interesting to note that these annotations are usually the only thing that places the physical bodies in a social context. The studio shots really have no context while the outdoor shots have slightly more context. The annotations helps define the social and sexual structures within which the models circulated.

What surprised me the most in The Kinsey Institute collection were the black and white and colour photographs of the beefcake models with erect penis and having full on male2male sex out in the open. These photographs are never seen, never published or exhibited but these prurient texts provide an important touchstone when trying to understand the more sexually and aesthetically passive work. It is a pity that the viewer cannot make an informed decision on the development of an artist’s oeuvre without im/morality raising its ugly head.

PLEASE SEE THE NOTES FROM MY RESEARCH AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE BELOW IN THE POSTING.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Invisible Exports for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

 

Bob Mizer. 'John Benninghoff' 1991

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
John Benninghoff
1991
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
7 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown, Los Angeles' 1972

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown, Los Angeles
1972
Vintage color transparency
Cibachrome print
10.5 x 10.5 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. Production still from "Boy Factory", 1969

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Production still from “Boy Factory”
1969
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
16 x 20 inches
Edition of 3
Printed in 2012

 

 

Most widely known as a photographer-filmmaker, independent publisher, and midcentury iconoclast, Bob Mizer (1922-1992) was an erotic auteur and a lyrical chronicler of the pre-Stonewall demimonde. In his meticulously staged idiosyncratic private work, Mizer revealed himself as a conscientious artist of intimacy and depth, a visionary stylist of the male-on-male gaze as it was refracted through a culture suffused with masculine iconography, which yet stymied and redirected the vectors of desire. The objects and photographs here show Mizer to be the progenitor of a new kind of devotional work that honours the kaleidoscopic typology of desire in the final stages of the underground era, while approaching it simultaneously as an improvised and mesmerising ethnography.

Mizer founded the Athletic Model Guild studio in 1945 when American censorship laws permitted women, but not men, to be photographed partially nude, so long as the result was “artistic” in nature. In 1947 he was wrongly accused of having sex with a minor and subsequently served a year-long prison sentence at a desert work camp in Saugus, California. But his career was catapulted into infamy in 1954 when he was convicted of the unlawful distribution of obscene material through the US mail. The material in question was a series of black and white photographs, taken by Mizer, of young bodybuilders wearing what were known as posing straps – a precursor to the G-string.

Upon his release from prison, he continued working undeterred, founding the groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial in 1951, which also debuted the work of artists such as Tom of Finland, Quaintance and many others. Models included future Andy Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro, actors Glenn Corbett, Alan Ladd, Susan Hayward, Victor Mature, and actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Throughout his long career he produced a dizzying array of intimate and idiosyncratic imagery, some flattened of explicit content but bathed nevertheless in an unmistakable erotic glow – tributes to the varieties of desire. Although Mizer’s studio was successful, his influence on artists ranging from David Hockney (who moved from England to California in part to seek out Mizer), Robert Mapplethorpe, Francis Bacon, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol and many others is only now beginning to be more widely appreciated.

The works collected in Bob Mizer: ARTIFACTS include a rare selection of staged tableux, images of California subcultures and an intimate collection of objects from various private sessions – preserved by Mizer along with photographs, films, videos and an ever-expanding catalog of props which over time evolved into a haphazard private museum and a natural history of American desire.

Press release from the Invisible-Exports website

 

Bob Mizer. 'Jim Carroll, Los Angeles' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Jim Carroll, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Bill Holland, Los Angeles' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Bill Holland, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Beau Rouge, Los Angeles' c. 1954

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Beau Rouge, Los Angeles
c. 1954
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

Research at the Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana

16/08/1999 – 19/08/1999

This research was undertaken as part of my Phd research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male at RMIT University, Melbourne.

  • Male homosexual catalogue photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • George Platt Lynes photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • M2M sex photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • Notes on physique culture photographs and magazines from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute
  • Baron von Gloeden photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

 

Male homosexual catalogue photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Image No. 543-280. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #11. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Image No. 543-281. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #5. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Proof sheet photographs cut up and taped down onto card and the rephotographed. #11 features a solo young man, naked except boots and hat, posing with whip. #5 features natural boys in shorts, shirts, wrestling, one punching the other’s stomach, holding each other just wearing underwear. Really cute, natural bodies and photographs. Some posing by photographer. Lighting obviously just by table lamps or lights, very amateur, but all the more intriguing and interesting for that.

Image No. 2667-9. Anonymous. Nd Acquired 1951.

Image No. 2669 is a duplicate of No. 2667. 8″ x 10″ sheet of proofs 6 side by 6 high, each proof oblong in shape. Originally folded in four and now flattened out.

2 men, possibly 3 (hard to tell from small proofs), in the country by a river/pond, diving, fishing, posing, lifting weights, rocks, rowing boats together, archery, playing tennis, wrestling, running. Sunbaking side by side, one back down, the other stomach down on a rock by the river, great bodies – some of the most beautiful physique photographs, if not THE best in the whole collection. Need to have negatives made and printed! 2 men have great bodies, smooth, built, and great poses and rapport with each other. Strong sunlight. They have painted on posing pouches, so originally they must have been nude photographs. American. Social setting and context is interesting – theirs or a friends country property? (tennis courts, lake, etc., …) enabled the privacy needed to photograph them like this, so from a moneyed social class.

Image No. 2864-5. Anonymous. Nd 1950s? Chicago Police Dept., Acquired 05/1961.

Image No. 2864. 12 models on a 3″ wide x 4″ high page.
Image No. 2865. 4 models on a 2″ wide x 4″ high page.

Rare physique photographs of nude men with erections. Some are shot using double flash or lights in a house (skirting board visible). A couple on an unmade bed and others in a studio setting with nothing behind. Most models are smiling! Same photographer in both proof sheets as curtain behind bed features in both sheets. Also numbered sequentially 1-12 for first sheet, 13-16 for second sheet.

 

George Platt Lynes photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

It is interesting to note that most of the photographs list the names of the models used but I am unable to print them here due to an agreement between GPL and Dr. Kinsey as to their secrecy. Also most of the photographs have annotations in code on the back of them giving details of age, sexual proclivities of models and what they are prepared to do and where they were found. This information gives a vital social context to GPL’s nude photographs of men and positions them within the moral and ethical framework of the era in which they were made. I hope that one day this information, along with the names of the models, can be made available to the public to give them a greater insight into the development of GPL’s personal aesthetic as well as the development of the visible erotic desire of the male body by and for other men during the 1940s-1950s.

Untitled Nude. 1944.

Photograph of a well built older (about 25?) nude man reclining on a bench with a high back. Lit by one spot on body forming heavy shadows with the backdrop lit to form outline of body against it. Head is tilted back so face not visible, left arm flung out. man is smooth, toned and quite hunky. Hairy legs with one knee in air. This is a very passive pose and the genitalia are hidden in deep shadow as though afraid to be revealed. Despair/sex/anonymity?

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 16.

Some earlier nudes especially portrait of Reginald Beane, 1938, have a very Man Ray quality too them. See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 47.

Untitled Nude. 1953.

Black man lying on a white mattress in a horizontal position, the top of mattress showing creases in the sheet covering it. Photographed from slightly higher than the prone body, horizontal print. This photograph is an exercise in tonal scale and lighting / textures. Beautiful light on body. The image is divided into different planes and spaces.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 57.

Male Nude Hanging. 1940.

Close up of fuller length photograph of 1940 Crucifixion showing agony on face, shaved armpits(!) and pubes, legs, ropes cutting into wrists. Beautiful cool brown / grey tonality to print. Lighting is from two sides as can be seen by the shadows formed on the body and the backdrop. Quite a feminine image I feel, with the heavy eyebrows, very smooth ephebe body and the lean of the torso. Print is more tonal than the reproduction in the book.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 75.

Untitled Nude. 1955.

Tanned older (25?) nude man with hanging big cut dick standing in front of graffiti wall. Head back and eyes closed, not engaging with the camera. Tan line of shorts very visible. Beautiful smooth body, and lovely skin tones in print.

Untitled Nude. 1952.

This photograph has much more life than the reproduction in the book. Every hair on his chest GLOWS. The grey of the print is more intense and the print darker overall. The arm of the left hand side of the print is not so blown out and the hands have more of a feeling of suspension to them.

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 41.

Male Nude. 1951.

Paper negative? Smooth, young man lying on his back, breathing in, thin waist, arm behind head, looking straight into camera. Backdrop lit by two spots to outline body. Horizontal print with lots of negative space above body. Those eyes really get you and the tufts of pubic hair really stand out in the original photograph. Outline shape is amazing and the reproduction does not do it justice. Real presence. One of the most moving prints yet. It is a privilege to see it!

See Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 72.

Untitled Nude. 1954.

Young man on left hand side of photograph wearing necklace, ring on right hand, tattoo of rose on right forearm, rocker haircut, looking down and away from camera. Darker figure. Another smooth, youthful male form behind opaque screen has hand reaching for first figure, touching him with left hand. Lighter figure with tattoo on left hand bicep. Print is mid to light grey in its tonality. Very homoerotic.

Untitled Nude. 1952.

Beautiful photograph of a nude young male sitting on a work bench table in a derelict building, 2 windows behind him to either side. His body is very smooth and he has a cut dick. His arms are out behind him on table to support his body which is leaning back. One leg is hanging over edge of table whilst the front leg is raised with knee in the air with the foot resting on the edge of the work bench. The background is lit from the left and the figure is lit from behind and above – great lighting.

Strong use of chiaroscuro and opposite way lighting in later photographs. There are several photographs of men in unmade beds, genitalia showing or face down showing butts off.

Untitled Nude. 1946.

One such photograph shows 2 boys lying in single unmade beds next too each other. The second young man is way out of focus in the background. These are not studio shots any of these. They are much more personal. In this photograph the erect, stiff, nodular end post of the bed is like a metaphor for an erect penis, the opposite side of flaccid one of the young man on the bed nearest the camera. The young man has his one hand on his stomach and the other behind his head, eyes closed, as though he is asleep. Flash or strong lights? Definitely flash.

Untitled Nude. 1953.

Same backdrop but different pose from Plate 61 in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993. Here one of the men has his hand under his chin, arm resting on folded knee, looking down at prone body which is face down beside him. Young man face down has cute butt with tan line. Beautiful tonal print, especially skin tones.

Image No. 141. Untitled Nude. 1942. Acquired GPL 1950.

Beautifully toned photograph of a young man kneeling on a mattress with feet hanging over its edge. Backdrop is lit to give outline and form to shoulders/head and fade into darkness above. His balls hang down between his legs and you can see every hair on them. Young man has a cute butt. Photograph is very erotic, very suggestive of anal penetration, and very about form as well.

Image No. 144. Untitled Nude. 1953. Acquired GPL 07/1955.

Strong image always quoted as an example of GPL’s more direct way of photographing the male nude in the last years of his life. Male is solid, imposing, lit from above, heavy set, powerful, massive. Eyes are almost totally in shadow. Later photos have more chiaroscuro possibly, more use of contrasting light (especially down lit or up lit figures) but are they more direct? Yes. Models look straight into camera.

See Plate 59 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 103.

Image No. 153. Untitled Nude. 1953. Acquired GPL 07/1955.

Really strong image of older man sitting on edge of bench, cropped mid thigh and under mouth. Image shows hairy chest, arms, legs, cut dick and great definition of abdominals. Tan line visible, skin tones in print are just above mid grey. Really good shadows on stomach, under pecs. Lit from above, softbox?

Image No. 186-194. Untitled Nudes. 1951. Acquired GPL 09/1954.

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 Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, Plate 78 for an image from this series.

It is interesting to note that George Platt Lynes photographed his own erect penis as early as 1929, although this photograph is not present in The Kinsey Institute Collection and belongs to The Collection of Anatole Pohorilenko (See Crump, James. “Iconography of Desire: George Platt Lynes and Gay Male Visual Culture in Postwar New York,” in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, p.151, Footnote 19).

I also did not see the photograph titled “Erection, c. 1952,” (See Figure 29 on page 255 of the Hard copy of the Project notes; Crump, James. “Iconography of Desire: George Platt Lynes and Gay Male Visual Culture in Postwar New York,” in Kinsey Institute and Crump, James. George Platt Lynes: Photographs From the Kinsey Institute. Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1993, p.153), while at The Kinsey Institute which illustrates this article. This is the most sexually explicit photograph of GPL’s that I have ever seen but there is no accreditation listed for this photograph in a book which is subtitled ‘Photographs From The Kinsey Institute’. Is this photograph part of The Kinsey Collection and if it is, why didn’t I see it when I was researching there?

Image No. 457. Untitled Nude. 1955.

Man on an unmade bed staring into camera. Tattoo of ‘Chuck’ on upper left arm bicep / shoulder. Older man with tan line and cute butt. Behind is a dark, dark background of a bedroom with a Venetian blind over a window, plant just visible in front of it, bookcase in back right of photo, down light from table lamp highlighting books on side table. Printed down background to make it darker? Man stares straight into camera with a penetrating gaze – presence, engagement, defiance! After sex? Before sex? with GPL? Photograph is blurred so slow shutter speed and tungsten lighting. The white highlights of sheet nearest camera are almost blown out by lighting. Very personal and beautiful photograph placing the male body in bedroom available for sex with another male.

See Plate 50 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 93.

Image No. 481. Untitled Nude. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Two young men stretched out, intertwined legs and arms, very sensual pose. Horizontal print. Lots of darker negative space above the bodies. Backdrop lit to highlight body outline – usual GPL trademark.

Image No. 482.Untitled Nude. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

2 smooth young men, ephebes, about 19 years old, one cut off at the waist, leaning backwards and resting on others stomach. Both have blond hair and the young man at front has his right hand resting on his chest, eyes closed. Rear figure has his head turned away from the camera.

See Plate 52 in Ellenzweig, Allen. The Homoerotic Photograph. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 95.

One of the best images in the collection. Very evangelical and homoerotic at the same time.

Image No. 483. ‘Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley and Bradbury Ball’. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Studio shot of 3 smooth, nude young men in various positions on an unmade mattress bed sitting on GPL’s studio floor. All three young men are intertwined with a white sheet covering some of the bodies and faces. Dark chair in background has clothes lying on it. Lit from above left. Skin tones in print are just above mid grey. According to Leddick, David. Naked Men: Pioneering Male Nudes 1935-1955. New York: Universe Publishing, 1997, p. 21, the names of the models are as above and come from a series of 30 photographs of three boys undressing and lying on a bed together. Image No. 483 and 484 come from the same series as the reproduced photograph.

Image No. 484. ‘Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley and Bradbury Ball’. 1941. Acquired GPL 10/05/1950.

Different pose from above. No genitalia visible. No touching each other. Darker print than above. Beautiful tone of print.

 

M2M sex photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Image No. 54106-7. M. Koch – O. Reith. ‘Der Act’. Acquired 1946.

Early (1880-1910?) male nude photographs used as models for other artists. 2 older males together supporting the pediment of a Roman column, themselves taking the place of the column. In Image No. 54107 they have their arms around each other. Just natural male bodies, smooth, moustaches, uncut.

Image No. 54112. Anonymous photographer. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept. 05/1961.

VERY RARE location shot of male nudes at baths(?) White nude male laying down, with black man doing handstand on his shins, back to the viewer. In the background is another nude black man, partially visible. Hanging up on pegs behind him are 5 singlets and 1 pair of underwear. Small photograph 2” wide by 4” high. Significant in that the photograph appears to be at the baths, shows interracial nudity and M/M contact.

One of the most significant photographs in the whole collection in my opinion. The sexologists of the era did not collect photographs of gay men and their bodies in social contexts, preferring instead to concentrate on photographs of M/M bodies engaged in sexual acts or physique photographs taken in the studio which generally do not have any context in relationship to the outside world. I know they did not have much of a choice in the material offered to them but surely there must have been photographs of gay men in the park, at the beach lying next too each other. In contemporary research we would embed such photographs within broader situational contexts and theoretical analyses.

Image No. 543-280. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #11. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Image No. 543-281. Frontier Club, San Diego, California.
**Mr. America – Plus** Frontier #5. Catalogues and ads, December 1967.

Proof sheet photographs cut up and taped down onto card and the rephotographed. #11 features a solo young man, naked except boots and hat, posing with whip. #5 features natural boys in shorts, shirts, wrestling, one punching the other’s stomach, holding each other just wearing underwear. Really cute, natural bodies and photographs. Some posing by photographer. Lighting obviously just by table lamps or lights, very amateur, but all the more intriguing and interesting for that.

Image No. 55201. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Edina Minneapolis Police Dept., 01/1962.

Small photograph 2″ wide x 3″ high. Interior. Male nude with hips thrust to one side, right leg splayed outwards, smooth, uncut, holding cane in left hand and top hat on his head at a rakish angle with right hand. Backdrop probably a Japanese fabric of bamboo canes. Very effeminate photograph of a young nude man in a bedroom possible (?) – very personal.

Image No. 55202. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961.

Nude man in gaiters (1920s-1940s?), uncut, watch on left hand, drinking from small silver cup which hides mouth. Right hand holds half smoked cigarette. Body has no shape about it at all – really strange. In the background is a standard lamp, skirting board and striped wallpaper. Flash or lamp lit. Personal / private photograph.

Image No. 55203. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961.

Young man, nude, uncut, flattened against interior wall covered with Arabic scene of horses, men and tigers above skirting board and wooden floor. Possibly 1930s. He has a tattoo on right forearm and the most amazing tan line from wearing shorts and singlet. His body has no shape to it at all, he has thin arms and is about 20-22 years old. Really unusual to see such a tan line, possibly from a bathing suit. With the background, I would say it positions this man socially in the upper classes and is interesting for its social contextualisation of the male body.

Image No. 55259. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago 1940.

Photograph one and a half inches square of male nude approx. 25-28 years old, smoking a cigarette, in slip on shoes, standing in front of what looks like army tents with trestle tables inside them. Body is natural, no real shape, smooth, man is smiling.

Image No. 55260. Anonymous. Nd Acquired Chicago Police Dept., 05/1961. 385971.

Male nude with dark hair, three quarters side profile standing in lounge room. Very Diane Arbus. Table lamp with big shade and 2 tiered side table. Vinyl chair behind. Print on wall is nearly completely hidden, curtain to top right hand side with wood grain wall as well. Beautiful man, serene, calm, relaxed in his own body – ONE OF THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHS. Flash was used as heavy shadow of man outline falls on the wall behind. Body is smooth, hunky but not a bodybuilder. Cut dick. Hands by side. Nice face, smiling, looking at camera.

Really like this photograph as the man is comfortable in showing off his body in front of the camera yet not really posing or puffing himself up. He and his body are aware but relaxed and just so.

Image No. 55042. Anonymous. Nd Acquired O.W. 05/1954.

Small photograph 2″ wide x 3″ high of young nude man sitting in car facing out of the open passenger side door with his trousers down below his knees. Left hand is resting on knee and the right hand is pinned against the seat by the weight of his own body. Uncut dick. Curly dark hair, eyes closed. Car has stick shift left hand drive (American) probably early 1950s. Body is smooth, boyish and young man is about 17-19 years old.

Just before or after sex? Intimacy? Photograph positions the body in an era and specific situation. Was he about to be sucked off? Was he being forced into pulling his pants down and being photographed? I don’t think so from the closed eyes and position of the body within the car. Lover is the photographer?

Image No. 55087. Anonymous. Nd Acquired McG. NYC 1946.

Photograph approx. 7″ wide by 5″ high. Smooth young man, about 18, eyes closed, wavy hair, leaning back on one hand on sandy beach. Right hand leg rests on lower of 2 wooden steps. Right hand rests on knee of right leg. Cut dick. Smiling. Lake in background with 3 sailing boats on it, one with sail up and 2 people in it. Pair of shoes sits on second step.

Beautiful photograph – intimacy, again possibly a lover has taken this photo, and it has some context to it – shoreline and people sailing boats in the background, steps leading to holiday shack? Young man is beautiful, happy and at ease in his surroundings, his company and in his own body.

Image No. 54768-54779. Anonymous. Nd Figure Set 41. 1960s(?)

All photographs 3″ wide x 4″ high. 2 nude men, about 25-30 years old, in bedroom, mirror on front of wardrobe, flowers in vase on dressing table, bed, flower patterned wallpaper, window behind dressing table. One man is hairy and cut, the other smooth and uncut. They are using a measuring tape (in inches) to measure each others necks, arms, chests, waists and calves in this series of photographs. Both men are smiling at each other and at other people off camera and are totally unaffected by the cameras presence in one respect whilst posing for it in another. Flash used. In some of the photographs the smooth man has his hand on the others head (for balance?) No, probably lovers.

Great series of photographs, very natural using built bodies in a bedroom setting (their own?), measuring and showing off the results of their bodybuilding. The images are quite a laugh and they are obviously comfortable and having a good time too! Much less formal than the usual physique photograph and show an intimacy between the two models, plus a context for that intimacy, the bedroom.

Image No. 41601. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Swedish boy named Gustav(?) Young man in trousers, white shirt, hair parted down middle, holds a Gladstone bag. He is smiling. House in background with women pulling kid along which is blurred in middle distance. Slim, natural body especially arms.

Image No. 41602. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Took him to baths in Germany. Same young man as above now in a one piece bathing suit, hair wet, slicked back. SLIM, beautiful boy. He is sitting on sand. People lying on beach in background including another boy who is out of focus.

Image No. 41602. Anonymous. 1935+-. Acquired 1948.

Annotation: Met in Navarin Masquerade, 1932. Same young man lying on towel on beach, Gladstone bag behind him. Very smooth young man, very Horst P. Horst model. Wearing a one piece bathing suit pulled down to his waist.

Good set of 3 photographs because it shows this young gay man in a variety of different settings posing for the photographer who he obviously knows from the annotations. Relaxed in his body and his surroundings. Perhaps they are on holiday together?

Image No. 41607/41610. Anonymous. c. 1946. San Francisco. Acquired 1958.

4 guys in various uniforms, table in front of them filled with alcohol. Hands on each others crutches. Second photograph has friends with Navy coats on coming in door. Like stills from a film?

Image No. 41612. ‘Ray Baker’. c. 1946. Acquired 1950.

Annotation: Donny 16-17 years. Bob 25 years. Donny seated, nude, socks on, reading a bit of paper. Bob, standing, hand on Donny’s inner thigh, bent over reading bit of paper as well. Donny is very slim ephebe, beautiful, smooth. Bob is older, hairy chest. Look like a married couple. Very good image.

Image No. 41614. Set of CK. 1950s. Acquired 1953.

2 young men nude in shower, back shot with bums.

Image No. 41615. Set of CK. 1950s.

Acquired 1953. Same young men, frontal shots in shower, very smooth, not built bodies.

Image No. 44224. Anonymous. 1928-1935. Acquired 1961.

2 men sitting on a couch, naked , one with arms crossed looking into camera, smiling, tapestry on wall behind. Older men – 30s? Not young men which is unusual in these muscular mesomorphic photographs. They sit side by side, feet touching, knees touching. Everyday bodies. Good for its openness and body-images.

Image No. 44228. Anonymous. 1935+. Acquired 1947.

Beautiful image. 2 slim young men, one seated, one standing by a pond.

Image No. 44263. Anonymous. 1940s?

Good photograph of 2 older men, hairy, naked, with their arms around each other. No erections. Smiling at camera.

Image No. 44426. Anonymous. n.d. 1950s?

2 young men in bathing trunks, standing, hugging each other on a beach, sea behind. Very good photograph.

Image No. 44526/44532. Anonymous. n.d. 1960s?

2 nude young men, one with arm around others shoulder with the guy on left looking warily at the camera. Natural bodies. Small 2″ square print. Image No. 44532 has them seated, laughing and is a much better photograph, less self conscious.

 

Notes on physique culture photographs and magazines from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

This section includes my research notes on the physique culture photographs held in the collection at the Kinsey Institute by the photographers listed below. It also includes a description of early homosexual magazines held by the Kinsey Institute.

  1. Bruce of Los Angeles: Project notes pages 343-345
  2. Detroit: Douglas: Project notes page 346
  3. Dick Falcon: Project notes pages 346-347
  4. Melan: Project notes page 347
  5. Bob Mizer/AMG: Project notes page 348
  6. Karl Eller: Project notes pages 348-349
  7. Anonymous: Project notes page 349
  8. Al Urban: Project notes page 350
  9. Bob Mizer/Physique Pictorial: Project notes pages 350-352
  10. Physique culture & early homosexual magazines: Project notes pages 353-354

 

1. Bruce of Los Angeles

Image No. 52001. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Grey backdrop. Young man, nude, about 19, with curly wavy blond hair leaning back with arms behind back. Smooth, toned body with tattoo of owl. Good dick sticking straight out with big fat erection. Young man is looking into camera. Diffused (soft box?) lighting. Doesn’t hide his face to hide his identity – quite open towards camera.

Image No. 52002. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop. Radio and curtain to right. Carpet floor. Interior of house so shoot not done in the studio. Dressed in sailors uniform with white cap on. Big hands, crossed and clasping each in front of him. Slight shadow on backdrop.

Image No. 52003. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop, nude, reading a newspaper while being sucked off by an older man dressed in white shirt with cufflinks, stripped trousers, black socks. Young man wears only socks and lace up shoes, watch on left arm, bracelet on right arm. Must be tungsten lighting because boys upper body is slightly blurred.

Image No. 52004. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-1950. Acquired 1950.

Same young man, backdrop. Frontal pose, with hands behind back. Limp, cut dick. Staring straight into camera. Tattoo of hearts and word ‘mom’ visible of left bicep. Wearing black socks and shoes.

Unusual in that this series shows erections and sexual activity within a specific context and environment (the home) and between an older and younger man.

Also unusual is that these photographs are by a physique photographer, obviously not for publication but for private consumption. These are the only photographs that I found during research at The Kinsey Institute that were explicitly sexual in nature taken by a physique photographer.

Image No. 52005. Bruce of Los Angeles. Acquired 1966.

Young man, dark hair, wearing white posing pouch leaning against tree, one arm behind him holding tree, other raised behind his head. Long grass around. Good arms, chest, stomach development. Must have been nearly midday as the shadow of his head is cast onto neck and upper chest. Eyes are closed and looking down, leaving body open for inspection / adoration without challenge of return gaze. Matt surface to print.

Image No. 52006. Bruce of Los Angeles. 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.

Image No. 52010. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 7-12. 6 small (1.5” wide by 2” high) photographs of older (22-25?) muscleman posing outside near a stream with mountains in the background. Mounted on one piece of card. He wears white posing pouch and has BIG arms, chest, back. Real bodybuilder. Tattoo on right bicep.

Image No. 52011. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 13-16. Same guy as above now posing with an older blond well built man in 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Both posing in bathing trunks using fencing swords as props! Both very big men, arms, chest, lats, etc. …

Image No. 52012. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948.

Numbered 17-20. Blond man from above series posing alone but still with fencing sword. Again 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Same location used for all 3 series. I think these photographs dispelled the myth that I had built up that all of Bruce of Los Angeles photography was studio based.

Image No. 52017-20. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Lewis Tan, 21 years old and Tom Matthews, 24 years old. Taken outdoors, full sunlight / shadow, mountains in background. Wrestling photographs using same raffia mat used in Image No. 52006. Quite erotic. Posed but usually only arms grasping each other. Not full body contact. Developed bodies, masculine, biceps straining, wearing posing pouches.

Image No. 52021-23. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950?

Annotation: Bert Elliot (stud), 20 years old and Hector De Hoyos, 19 years old. Wrestling, beautiful action shots taken in sand dunes. Both are cute, have dark hair, smooth, tanned bodies and are wearing posing pouches. 8″ x 10″ prints. More full body to body contact in these photographs.

Image No. 52029. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Bulldog Football Team. All Married. 3 naked men with dark hair drying themselves after a shower. Bench with cigar a towel on foreground. Location shot using flash. Naturally hairy bigger bodies. Good photograph a la Diane Arbus mould.

Image No. 52062. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950.

Annotation: Dick Fowler 17 years old. Nude, slim body, dark hair with cut dick standing on a beach in front of a water fountain. Typical ephebe. Pylons in background. Strange photograph.

 

2. Douglas: Detroit

Image No. 52068. Douglas photographer. Detroit. 1946.

Annotation: Guy, age 28, Persian descent, Ht 5’10”, Wt 165, skilled factory operator. Hair over whole chest and abdomen shaved off. Posing in nude with trees in background. Triumphant pose with clenched fists.

Interesting to note that body hair has been shaved off before photo shoot. Douglas seems to have photographed a lot of Polish models from the images with annotations that I have seen. His photographs seem to hark back to the more stylised 1930s era.

 

3. Dick Falcon

Image No. 52202. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

2 blond (one slightly darker than the other) haired young men with smooth bodies, washboard abs, limp cut dicks. One young man is standing in water, one sitting on a log. 8″ x 10″ print.

Image No. 52206. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202. Looking away from camera, smooth, washboard abs, limp cut dicks standing in front of a fallen tree. Holding hands – not fully clasped hands but just resting there. Very sensitive photograph. They feel like lovers to me. Small photograph approx. 3″ wide x 4″ high. Very contrasty image. What definition the right hand boy has!! Long and lanky, slim and not big, really toned ephebe.

Image No. 52218. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man is balanced on one shoulder of other young man.

Image No. 52229. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man balanced on other man who is on all fours. Blond young man smiling with one arm raised in the air, looking at camera. Other boy looking away. Natural bodies, outdoors.

Strange set of photographs reminds me of later Diane Arbus photographs of nudist camp. Most of this photographers studio work harks back to a more stylised classical romantic tradition.

 

4. Melan

Image No. 52276. Melan. Numbered 298-306. NYC 1940.

Proof sheet of young man at waterfall wearing black posing pouch. One of the best bodies I’ve ever seen photographs of. Tall, beautiful face, abs for days, chest not that big, good arms. Great poses outdoors, sensitive – like to see enlargements! One lying on a rock in a crucifix position. One where he is sitting on edge of rock with feet in water – WOW! Not massively big but what a body and the small size of the images makes them all the more intriguing.

Image No. 54643. Anonymous. Nd (possibly Melan). NYC 1946.

5″ x 7″ print off proof sheet above that I said was the most beautiful body that I’d ever seen! Bad print, bottom half of print loosing its tonality, fogging out. Still a magnificent body, really long legs, amazing stomach. By a waterfall, arms outstretched, cut dick. My attribution.

 

5. Bob Mizer / Athletic Model Guild

Bob Mizer set up AMG in 1945 to photograph male bodybuilders and it is now the oldest male model photography studio in the United States of America. All models in the photographs that I studied were well built, smooth, toned. Lots of outdoor shots! Models are usually quite young (18-22 approx.) Tiny waists and v shaped. For example Image No. 51820. 3 studio portraits of one smooth boy featuring twisted back, arms and torso to great effect. Total v shape. Lots of erotic wrestling photographs from AMG as well.

 

6. Karl Eller

Image No. 51844. Karl Eller. 1949.

Annotation: Ex-German. Unusual shot of male lying on stomach in sunlight/shadow with flowers in hair. Small photograph 5″ wide x 3″ high. Screen behind. Quite sensitive. More an art photograph that just a physique study?

Image No. 51846. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man, standing, back/side on, head turned so looking into camera. Private reflection/moments. Maybe the photographers lover? Flowers in hair reminder of Fred Holland Day’s Dionysian photographs of ephebes.

Image No. 51848. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man looking to left, fontal nude. 2 screens behind, one covered with flowered wallpaper (dark), the other with a leaf design wallpaper (light).

Image No. 51850. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in a reverie. Much more intimate than usual physique photography.

Image No. 51852. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in same positioning as Image No. 51848 but hand to mouth in a pensive mood.

Image No. 51853. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man by an open window, nude, uncut dick, sunlight falling on chest, flowers in hair. Head turned away from sun so in shadow. Looking down and not into camera. Must be about 18-20 years old.

This series is using the romantic ideal of the young ephebe. It is much more intimate than the usual physique photography images and I wonder what it is doing in this section of the archive?

Present in The Kinsey Institute collection were a lot more nude photographs than were published. Really, most physique photographers used stock standard poses across the board. An exception to this rule was one of the most interesting series of photographs in the collection. It was taken by anonymous photographer and is described below.

 

7. Anonymous

Image No. 51901-20. Anonymous. n.d. Donated by RES. Acquired 1952-1953.

Fantastic series of studio photographs of several different bodies – some are built bodies and some are not. Black background, beautiful skin tones.

Difference: Close up of different body parts. Butts, chests, arms, cut off heads, arms/legs, just sections … in anticipation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s deconstruction of the body in his nudes. Did he see some of these? Interesting thought! Very art shots of buttocks, torsos. Very tonal like Edward Weston’s nudes or Steiglitz in some of his nudes of Georgia O’Keefe. Image No. 51912 shows close up of veins in arms and hair in armpit. 8″ x 10″ prints.

WOW! for the whole series.

 

8. Al Urban

Much more studio set shots than outdoors. Use of black background or white background. Mainly nudes in The Kinsey Institute collection. There is an occasional black nude (Image No. 53145 from 1949). Most prints are 8″ x 10″ but some, like Image No. 53145, are 3″ x 7″ approx.

Image No. 53247-8. Al Urban. 04/01/1949.

Two dark haired young men, 17 and 18, posing nude, both cut. Both have all over tans, arms on hips, looking at each other, laughing kinda – both bodies ‘ripped’ and toned like you wouldn’t believe! Arms, pecs, 8 pak washboard stomachs, skinny legs. Not big built like a muscular mesomorph or bodybuilder but young men, toned and cut. Amazing definition.

 

9. Bob Mizer / Physique Pictorial

Image No. 52505-9. Bob Mizer. 1954.

Annotation: Used by DA to show intent to exh pvt RCT. Both 4″ x 5″ contacts and 8″ x 10″ enlargements. Series of 12 photographs confiscated by police and used in the 1954 court case by the District Attorney to show intent to exhibit partially erect. What happened in court case? Obviously the charge of exhibiting partially erect did not stick but Mizer lost then won on the obscenity of the male rump: “Not long after the first issues of Physique Pictorial began appearing on the newsstands, the magazine drew the published comment of the columnist Paul Coates of the now defunct L.A. Mirror. Vice officers raided the AMG studio and a case was taken to court which Mizer lost. But the decision of an Appellate Court overturned the earlier ruling and declared that “the male rump is not necessarily obscene.””

Siebernand, P. The Beginnings of Gay Cinema in Los Angeles: The Industry and The Audience. Ann Harbor, Michigan: Xerox Microfilms International, 1975, pp. 44-45.

Although not showing nudes in publications such as Physique Pictorial, private photographs by Bob Mizer heavily feature nudity. Wide use made of projected backdrops – abstracts, leaves, mountains, ships, classical Roman ruins. 4″ x 5″ prints are much better than 8″ x 10″ enlargements. Annotations on back of both size images tell of models jobs and sexual orientation and what they will or will not do sexually if known. Interesting in that these annotations are usually the only thing that places the physical bodies in a social context. Studio shots really have no context. Outdoor shots have slightly more. Commentary helps define social and sexual structures of models.

Image No. 52514. Bob Mizer. 1948.

Annotation: Charles Brant, 20 years old. Tried suicide because wife refused to take him back. 4″ x 5″ contact. Tiled floor (dark), white drapes both sides. Dark fabric backdrop. Ephebe body, smooth, looking right and up and out of frame. Hands held palm upwards and curled fingers, elbows slightly out from sides. Like he’d just cut his arms, or pleading. Did the photographer pose this in an imitation of an attempted suicide? Strong shadow behind – tungsten or flash? Disturbing photograph.

Image No. 52740. Bob Mizer. 07/01/1952.

Great photograph of 3 bodybuilders at a contest. Left hand man seated looking off camera. Middle figure seated looking at figure behind both of them walking out of frame carrying huge trophy. Figure behind smirking at his prize!! To the right and back of photograph is a throne which is really symbolic. 4″ x 5″ contact.

Beautiful. One of the few less posed and more fluid photographs in the collection, shot on location.

Image No. 523-8. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Later photographs such as this have more overt homosexual overtones. Backdrop of projected Italian style waterfront (steps, canvas umbrellas). 2 smooth men, one older, one younger, posing pouches, one held down by the other wearing a sailors cap. Pinned by wrists. Younger man underneath has head turned towards camera, eyes closed in a submissive attitude, very passive. Man on top looking down at his face. Has power over him.

Image No. 523-9. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Same men, looking at each other, smiling, sitting side by side. Young man underneath in last photo has his arm around his “buddy,” both wearing sailors hats. At least 2-3 or possibly 4 lighting sources in this shot because of the shadows at different angles – strong and fill lighting.

Image No. 523-10. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Younger man underneath now face down being hog-tied with the other guy kneeling on his back but upright, showing off his body, over him whilst using rope to tie him up. Good tonality to print, probably 4″ x 5″ contact? Older guy much bigger than younger guy.

Image No. 523-139. Bob Mizer. 27/09/1951.

Image of bodybuilder in white trunks looking down about too lift weights. Guy crouched down over weights on tiled floor. Huge negative black space around him.

Image No. 523-140. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Muscular mesomorph. Big legs, arms, chest, smile, everything!! Posing in black trunks with arms in S shape, fists clenched. Big negative black space around him.

Like the idea of using this large expanse of negative space above models in my own work. Some of his nude and posing pouch models have dirty feet. Walking around outside or on dirty studio floors.

Image No. 523-431. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Two young men with dark hair in posing pouches walking along a train track, one on each rail, holding hands/supporting each other across the tracks. Tanned, built, abs, lats, lovers? Mountains and hills in the background.

 

10. Physique Culture and Early Homosexual Magazines

A. Tomorrow’s Man. Irving Johnson Health, 1952.

B. Body Beautiful. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

C. Adonis. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

D. Your Physique. Vol. 1, No. 1. Montreal: Joe Weider, August, 1940.

The first issue is really crude. Headings are hand done and filled in like kids graffiti. Typed content is on A4 pages. Hand drawings also. Only the cover uses magazine paper and it has a photograph printed on it. Cost 15c. The second issue is in a smaller format but is printed all on magazine paper and properly printed. Much more professional. Later editions are back to A4 size.

E. Vim – for Vigorous Living. Vol. 1, No. 1. Chicago: Victory Printing and Publishing Co., May 1954.

Small magazine about 5″ wide x 7″ high.

F. The Greyhuff Review. 1st Edition. Minneapolis, Minn: Directory Services Inc., 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Pictures of lithe, nude young men, articles, cartoons, social comment. “What is Obscenity?” “Discovery: Can a Young Man in a Small Country Town Find Happiness in the Great Big City?” “Is Punishment the Answer? Is There an Effective Way to Eliminate Homosexuality?” “The Public is Watching.”

2nd Edition.
Quotation: “The beginning of wisdom is the realization that there are other points of view than my own. Understanding those points of view is the next step. The final test of wisdom is understanding why those points of view are held.”

G. Der Neue Ring. No.1. Hamburg/Amsterdam: Gerhard Presha, November 1957.

Homosexual magazine.

H. Butch. Issue No. 1. Minneapolis, Minn: DSI Sales, 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Small 5″ wide x 9″ high ‘art’ magazine including nude posing.

I. 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 first edition (pp. 6-7).

Some of the photographs in Der Kries of young European men are similar to German naturist movement photographs (Oct, Nov, Dec 1949 – Cat. No. 52423, May, June 1949 – Cat. No. 52452 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 (July 1952 – Cat. No. 52424, August 1960 – Cat. No. 52425, all 4 photographs in May, Oct 1956 – Cat. No. 52426). 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.

 

Baron von Gloeden photographs from the Collection at The Kinsey Institute

Young peasant boys, all with uncut dicks, pose (unpretentiously some of them) for the camera. Innocence lost to the Baron, to the camera? Most models ages range from 11-18 years old. There are a couple o f portraits of older men with moustaches in the collection. Usually his photographs are full length portraits against walls using steps, props (swords, tiger skins, fish, hats, togas, flowers, vases). He doesn’t rely on classical props as much as I thought he would – just the form of the body with perhaps a ribbon in the hair, for example. Some are incredibly beautiful photographs and have a distinct presence. Catalogue No.’s 79 and 80 are two particularly good photographs I think. Relatively long exposures can be seen in the movement of dogs and trees in prints.

Catalogue No. 18. #9744. Nd

One of my favourites is not a full length composition but a seated boy cropped mid thigh, legs and body turned slightly to the right, staring straight into the camera. The body within the frame takes up a much greater space within the image than in the other photographs. The young mans hair is amazing.

Catalogue No. 129. ANG #60. Nd

2 nude young men, 14 years old, in country landscape, grasses, mountains in far distance. Both have uncut dicks, one is lighter skinned, the other darker. Lighter skinned one has an arm around the other boy. Darker skinned boy is holding lighter skinned boys other hand and affectionately looking at him What an intimate photograph!! What was he thinking! The darker skinned lad looking at the other boy. Catalogue No. 165 is a cropped version of the above print.

Catalogue No. 167. Nd

Magnificent. 2 naked young men reclining on a tiger skins in a courtyard surrounded by flowering plants. Both have rough hands and feet. In bottom left of print you can see the shadow of photographer and camera(?) This has been retouched to try and remove this.

The 100 or so von Gloeden’s are stunning, mainly 8″ x 10″ prints – contact prints?

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown, Handstand, Santa Monica' 1945

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown, Handstand, Santa Monica
1945
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown Woman Lifting, Santa Monica' c. 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown Woman Lifting, Santa Monica
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown Woman, Los Angeles' c 1951

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown Woman, Los Angeles
c. 1951
Vintage large-format black and white negatives
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

Bob Mizer. 'Unknown on Platform, Santa Monica' c. 1945

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Unknown on Platform, Santa Monica
c. 1945
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
10.5 x 8.4 inches
Edition of 5
Printed in 2012

 

 

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05
Jun
12

Exhibition: ‘Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles 1950-1980’ at Martin-Gropuis-Bau Berlin

Exhibition dates: 15th March – 10th June 2012

List of artists represented: Peter Alexander, John Altoon, Chuck Arnoldi, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Karl Benjamin, Ed Bereal, Tony Berlant, Wallace Berman, Marjorie Cameron, Cameron, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, Mary Corse, Ronald Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Laddie John Dill, Melvin Edwards, Frederick Eversley, Lorser Feitelson, Llyn Foulkes, Sam Francis, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Frederick Hammersley, George Herms, David Hockney, Stephan von Huene, Craig Kauffman, Edward Kienholz, Helen Lundeberg, John Mason, Allan McCollum, John McLaughlin, Ron Miyashiro, Ed Moses, Lee Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian, Ken Price, Noah Purifoy, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Henry Takemoto, DeWain Valentine, Gordon Wagner, Norman Zammitt.

 

 

Ed Ruscha. 'Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas' 1963

 

Ed Ruscha (American, b. 1937)
Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas
1963
Oil on Canvas
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Gift of James Meeker, Class of 1958, in memory of Lee English, Class of 1958, scholar, poet, athlete and friend to all

 

 

What a bumper posting – so much to enjoy and something for everyone!

Marcus

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Many thankx to Martin-Gropuis-Bau for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Betye Saar. 'The Phrenologer's Window' 1966

 

Betye Saar (African-American, b. 1926)
The Phrenologer’s Window
1966
Assemblage of two panel wood frame with print and collage
Private Collection; courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

 

Eleanor Antin. '100 BOOTS Move On' 1971-1973

 

Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 BOOTS Move On
1971-1973
Halftone reproduction
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© Eleanor Antin

 

Sam Francis. 'Berlin Red' 1969-1970

 

Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994)
Berlin Red
1969-1970
Acrylic on canvas
Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
© Sam Francis Foundation, Cailfornia / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012
Foto: bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB / Jörg P. Anders

 

Wallace Berman. 'Semina Cover with Wife (Photograph of Shirley Berman)' 1959

 

Wallace Berman (American, 1926-1976)
Semina Cover with Wife (Photograph of Shirley Berman)
1959
Halftone reproduction on cardstock
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA

 

 

The exhibition project Pacific Standard Time – Art in Los Angeles, 1950-1980 traces the development of the Los Angeles art scene during the post-war period, when the city on the Pacific hosted an impressively varied and versatile art scene, thus proving that it was more than Hollywood and a sprawling metropolis in the land of sunshine and palm trees. Pacific Standard Time features such internationally esteemed artists as John Baldessari, David Hockney, Edward Kienholz or Ed Ruscha as well as protagonists that are yet to be discovered like the abstract painters Helen Lundeberg and Karl Benjamin, the ceramicists Ken Price and John Mason, and sculptors such as De Wain Valentine.

The mega show – over 60 institutions and galleries in Los Angeles were involved – is taking the two main core exhibitions of the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute to Europe. The sole European venue is the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The section of the exhibition that was to be seen in Los Angeles’ Getty Museum under the title of Crosscurrents in L.A. – Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, presents painting and sculpture. In the second part that was to be seen in Los Angeles under the title of Greetings from L.A. – Artists and Publics, 1950-1980, posters, artists’ catalogues, postcards, invitation cards and other memorabilia are shown which offer a deeper insight into the networks of the Los Angeles art scene at that time. For Berlin the show has been supplemented to include photographs by Julius Shulman, whose architectural shots defined the image of the Californian lifestyle in the 1950s. His incomparable sensibility and intuitive feel for composition and the ‘critical moment’ established him as a master of his craft.

 

Part One: Crosscurrents

The first part of the Berlin show brings together more than 70 works by over 50 artists and traces the rise of the Southern Californian art scene between 1945 and 1980. The list of names reads like a Who’s Who of today’s internationally esteemed artists, as people like John Baldessari, David Hockney, Edward Kienholz, Bruce Nauman or Ed Ruscha began their careers here.

The entrée into Pacific Standard Time begins with British artist David Hockney’s iconic painting A Bigger Splash from the year 1967. It is one of the key pictures of the exhibition and stands for the hedonistic life under palm trees with permanent sunshine and never-ending parties.

The exhibition is structured both chronologically and thematically, comprising six sections that reflect the entire spectrum of the art trends that sprang up simultaneously in Los Angeles. Abstract works – ceramic sculptures and paintings of bleak clarity – are to be seen in the first section. The second section shows assemblage sculptures and collages by artists like George Herms, Wallace Berman and Ed Bereal, who paved the way for this artistic approach in the 1950s, and their successors, including many African-American artists. The third section documents the rise of Los Angeles to become an important art centre, while the fourth shows paintings by internationally recognised Los Angeles artists as Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney and Ed Ruscha. It becomes clear that Southern California was one of the leading centres for large-format pop art and abstract painting in the 1960s. The fifth section examines how, at a time when painting was growing in significance on the Atlantic Coast of the USA, artists on the West Coast were beginning to extend their notions of traditional painting and sculpture, with perceptual phenomena and the material processes of artistic production coming to the fore. Here we find works that have arisen out of a collision between art and technology, such as a sculpture by De Wain Valentine, who uses industrial materials like polyester casting resin, or a canvas by Mary Corse, into which the smallest, high-grade reflecting glass microspheres have been worked. We are also introduced to a group of artists whose works show traces of their creation, such as those of Joe Goode, Allan McCollum, Ed Moses and Peter Alexander.

Berlin is supplementing the Getty exhibition by devoting a special room to the early international perception of art in Los Angeles. It will feature the works Berlin Red by Sam Francis, a 8 x 12 metre painting that was commissioned by Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie in 1969, and Volksempfängers (People’s Wireless) by Edward Kienholz. As a DAAD scholar Kienholz often lived in Berlin from 1973 on.

Another distinctive feature of the exhibition are the various room installations, including Stuck Red and Stuck Blue by James Turrell and Four Corner Piece by Bruce Nauman. In 1966 Turrell began working on his Light Room installations. In the work displayed in the Martin-Gropius-Bau that he designed in 1970, he uses light to dissolve the borders of spatial structures and transform them. In his Four Corner Piece from 1971 Bruce Nauman creates a particular spatial experience through the interplay of physical information vs. visual information.

 

Part Two: Greetings from L. A.

In the second part of the exhibition, elaborated by the Getty Research Institute, the Martin-Gropius-Bau shows over 200 objects – photographs, artists’ catalogues, books, posters, postcards, invitations, letters and artworks, of which many are on public view for the first time. We are given a sense of how Californian artists, through the involvement of a wide audience, brought art into contact with the general public. We also see how intensely the international networks linking groups of artists functioned.

Greetings from L.A. begins with Making the Scene and describes the gallery scene in Los Angeles from the 1950s to the 1970s. We are introduced to art dealers and collectors of the kind who congregated at La Cienega Boulevard – Rolf Nelson, Riko Mizuno and Betty Asher. On this gallery-lined boulevard, which crosses the Sunset Boulevard immortalised by Ed Ruscha, the reputation of Los Angeles as a city of modern and contemporary art was made.

Public Disturbances, the second section of the show, is devoted to three important exhibitions which drew fierce criticism and even led to arrests. Wallace Berman’s 1957 exhibition in the Ferus Gallery was closed down by the police. Violent controversies were triggered by the War Babies exhibition (1961) in the Huysman Gallery. There were also strong differences of opinion between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over the inclusion of Kienholz’s installation Back Seat Dodge ’38 (1964) in his grand retrospective of 1966.

The Private Assembly section of the exhibition focuses on the works created by Wallace Berman, George Herms, Charles Brittin and their circle in the 1950s and 1960s. The intimacy of these objects is explained not only by the unmistakable traces of artistic authorship they bear, but also by the fact that they were only accessible to a select, non-public audience. Mainly active outside the commercial gallery scene, this group of assemblage artists concentrated their energies on private artworks, which they handed over personally or sent by mail as a token of friendship.

The fourth section, Mass Media, introduces artists who selected the mass media as a model for their own art. Ed Ruscha, Allen Ruppersberg and Chris Burden occupied themselves with popular culture and mass production as alternative means of production and distribution. They used impersonal forms, such as those of objects or advertising materials commercially produced and sold as consumer goods. By avoiding conventional exhibition rooms, these artists reached a new public. They often exhibited anonymously, thus making the identity of artist and work secondary.

Art School as Audience, the fifth section of the exhibition, sheds light on the important role of art schools in the development of contemporary art forms. They served as the static pole, because in them artists constituted the audience of other fellow artists. The California Institute of the Arts, commonly known as CalArts, and its predecessor, the Chouinard Art Institute, were key venues for important groups of artists, as can be seen from the works of such students as Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode, and such teachers as John Baldessari, Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago. Other important forums were the new art faculties that came into existence at the universities and other higher education facilities in Los Angeles County. At the campuses of Irvine or San Diego in particular there was a stimulating audience for the experiments of such artists as Martha Rosler, Barbara Smith and Eleanor Antin.

The last section, The Art of Protest, examines how social and political developments mobilised artists to display their works in the street. In the 1960s Los Angeles became the scene of the first protests led by artists against the Vietnam War. This gave rise in 1966 to the construction of a Peace Tower at the corner of La Cienega and Sunset Boulevards. In the following decade it was feminism that moved many artists to become social activists, as can be seen from the work of Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus In Mourning and in Rage 1977, a highly esteemed protest performed on the steps of City Hall.

Greetings from L.A. offers a new look at art in Southern California by showing how the artists of this region changed the conventional relations between art and public and developed alternatives for a public role of art and its place in society.

The exhibition affords glimpses into some recently acquired archives, like those of Betty Asher, Hal Glicksman, George Herms, Wolfgang Stoerchle, High Performance magazine, the galleries of Rolf Nelson, Mizuno and Jan Baum as well as of the papers of Charles Brittin and Edmund Teske. These are supplemented by material from archives not normally associated with Southern California, such as the papers of the critics Irving Sandler, Barbara Rose and Lawrence Alloway of New York; of Marcia Tucker, the founder and curator of New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art; and of the Kasmin Gallery, London.

 

Part Three: Julius Shulman

The last part of the Berlin exhibition shows over 50 photographs by Julius Shulman – the most important American photographer of architecture in the post-war period. For more than thirty years he photographed Modernist houses –  built by Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, or Frank Gehry – thus making many of them into architectural icons. The exhibition shows some of his key works.

Press release from Martin-Gropuis-Bau website

 

Julius Shulman. 'Malin Residence, "Chemosphere”' 1960

 

Julius Shulman (American, 1910-2009)
Malin Residence, “Chemosphere”
1960
Gelatin silver print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust

 

Julius Shulman. 'Case Study House #22' 1960

 

Julius Shulman (American, 1910-2009)
Case Study House #22
1960
Gelatin silver print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust

 

Charles Brittin. 'Peace Tower' 1966

 

Charles Brittin (American, b. 1928)
Peace Tower
1966
Silver-dye bleach print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust

 

Peter Alexander. 'Cloud Box (Large)' 1966

 

Peter Alexander (American 1939-2020)
Cloud Box (Large)
1966
Cast polyester resin
Janis Horn and Leonard Feldman
© Peter Alexander
Foto: Brian Forrest

 

Jerry McMillan. 'Ed Bereal in His Studio' c. 1961

 

Jerry McMillan (American, b. 1936)
Ed Bereal in His Studio
c. 1961
Gelatin silver print mounted on board
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Gift of George Herms
© Jerry McMillan

 

David Hockney. 'A Bigger Splash' 1967

 

David Hockney (British, b. 1937)
A Bigger Splash
1967
Acrylic on canvas
96″ x 96″
© David Hockney
Tate Gallery, London, 2011

 

Wallace Berman. 'Untitled (Verifax Collage)' 1969

 

Wallace Berman (American, 1926-1976)
Untitled (Verifax Collage)
1969
Verifax collage on board
Collection of Michael D. Fox, Berkeley CA, Courtesy Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco CA
© Courtesy of the Estate of Wallace Berman and Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
Foto: Joe Schopplein

 

 

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Corner Stresemannstr. 110
10963 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 254 86-0

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04
Aug
10

Exhibition: ‘Robert Mapplethorpe’ at NRW-Forum Dusseldorf

Exhibition dates: 6th February – 15th August 2010

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Phillip Prioleau' 1980 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Phillip Prioleau
1980
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe was a classical photographer with a great eye for form and beauty, an artist who explored the worlds he knew and lived (homosexuality, sadomasochistic practices, desire for black men) with keen observations into the manifestations of their existence, insights that are only shocking to those who have never been exposed to these worlds. If we observe that our history is written as a series of interpretive shifts then perhaps we can further articulate that the development of an artist’s career is a series of interpretations, an “investigation into the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to recognise ourselves as subjects of what we are doing, thinking, saying.”1 Mapplethorpe was such an artist.

The early work is gritty and raw, exposing audiences to sexuality and the body as catalyst for social change, photographs the “general public” had never seen before. Early photographs such as the sequence of photographs Charles and Jim (1974) feature ‘natural’ bodies – hairy, scrawny, thin – in close physical proximity with each other, engaged in gay sex. There is a tenderness and affection to the sequence as the couple undress, suck, kiss and embrace.

At the same time that Mapplethorpe was photographing the first of his black nudes (Mapplethorpe’s photographs of black men come from a lineage that can be traced back to Fred Holland Day who also photographed black men), he was also portraying acts of sexual progressiveness 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 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 depicting them. There is a sense of connection with the people and the situations that occur before his lens in the S/M photographs.

As time progresses the work becomes more about surfaces and form, about the polished perfection of the body, about that exquisite corpse, the form of the flower. Later work is usually staged against a contextless background (see photographs below) as though the artefacts have no grounding in reality, only desire. Bodies are dissected, cut-up into manageable pieces – the objectified body. Mapplethorpe liked to view the body cut up 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. The named body is placed on a pedestal (see photograph of Phillip Prioleau (1980) below) much as a trophy or a vase of flowers. I believe this isolation, this objectivity is one of the major criticisms of most of Mapplethorpe’s later photographs of the body – they reveal very little of the sitter only the clarity of perfect formalised beauty and aesthetic design.

While this criticism is pertinent it still does not deny the power of these images. Anyone who saw the retrospective of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 1995 can attest to the overwhelming presence of his work when seen in the flesh (so to speak!). Mapplethorpe’s body of work hangs from a single thread: an inquisitive mind undertaking an investigation in the condition of the world’s becoming. His last works, when he knew he was dying, are as moving for any gay man who has lost friends over the years to HIV/AIDS as anything on record, are as moving for any human being that faces the evidence of their own mortality. Fearless to the last, never afraid to express who he was, how he felt and what he saw, Mapplethorpe will long be remembered in the annals of visual art.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Foucault, Michel. “What is Enlightenment?,” trans. C. Porter in Rabinow, Paul (ed.,). The Essential Works of Michel Foucualt, 1954-1984. Vol.1. New York: New Press, 1997, p. 315.

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Many thankx to NRW-Forum Dusseldorf for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Parrot Tulips' 1988 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Parrot Tulips
1988
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Ajitto' 1981 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Ajitto
1981
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'David Hockney' 1976 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
David Hockney
1976
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe, who was born in 1946 and passed away in 1989, is one of the few artists who truly deserve to be known far beyond the borders of the art world. Mapplethorpe dominated photography in the late twentieth century and paved the way for the recognition of photography as an art form in its own right; he firmly anchored the subject of homosexuality in mass culture and created a classic photographic image, mostly of male bodies, which found its way into commercial photography.

In 2010, the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf will organise a major retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs. His work was first shown in Germany in 1977 as part of documenta 6 in Kassel and then in a European solo exhibition in 1981 with German venues in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. In addition to various museum and gallery exhibitions the largest museum exhibition in Germany of Mapplethorpe’s work took place in 1997 when the worldwide Mapplethorpe retrospective, which opened at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, traveled to the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. The last time Robert Mapplethorpe’s works were shown in Düsseldorf was in the exhibition ‘Mapplethorpe versus Rodin’ at the Kunsthalle in 1992.

Both during his life and since his death, Mapplethorpe’s work has been the subject of much controversial debate, particularly in the USA. Right up until the end of the twentieth century, exhibitions of his photographs were sometimes boycotted, censured, or in one case cancelled. His radical portrayals of nudity and sexual acts were always controversial; his photos of sadomasochistic practices in particular caused a stir and frequently resulted in protests outside exhibitions and in one instance, a lawsuits was brought against a museum director.

In 2008, the Supreme Court in Japan ruled that Mapplethorpe’s erotic images did not contravene the country’s ban on pornography and released a volume of his photographs that had been seized and held for over eight years. As far as the American critic Arthur C. Danto was concerned, Mapplethorpe created ‘some of the most shocking and indeed some of the most dangerous images in modern photography, or even in the history of art.’

In Germany, on the other hand, Mapplethorpe’s photographs were part of the ‘aesthetic socialisation’ of the generations that grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s. Lisa Ortgioes, the presenter of the German women’s television programme frau tv, notes that during this time, Mapplethorpe’s photos were sold as posters; his ‘black’ portraits in particular being a regular feature on the walls of student bedrooms at the time.

The curator of the exhibition, Werner Lippert, is quick to point out that ‘this exhibition needs no justification. Mapplethorpe was quite simply and unquestionably one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. It is an artistic necessity.’

The exhibition in the NRW-Forum covers all areas of Mapplethorpe’s work, from portraits and self-portraits, homosexuality, nudes, flowers and the quintessence of his oeuvre the photographic images of sculptures, including early Polaroids. The photographs are arranged according to themes such as ‘self portraits’, which includes the infamous shot of him with a bullwhip inserted in his anus, as well as his almost poetic portraits of his muse, Patti Smith, the photographs of black men versus white women, the body builder Lisa Lyon, the juxtaposition of penises and flowers (which Mapplethorpe himself commented on in an interview: ‘… I’ve tried to juxtapose a flower, then a picture of a cock, then a portrait, so that you could see they were the same’), and finally those images of classical beauty based on renaissance sculptures, and impressive portraits of children and celebrities of the day.

Despite the obvious references to the Renaissance idea of what constitutes ideal beauty and the history of photography from Wilhelm von Gloeden to Man Ray, this exhibition shows Robert Mapplethorpe as an artist who is firmly anchored is his era; his contemporaries are Andy Warhol and Brice Marden; Polaroids were the medium of choice in the 1970s, and the focus on the body and sexuality was, at the time, for many artists like Vito Acconci or Bruce Nauman a theme that was key to social change. Above all, Robert Mapplethorpe developed his own photographic style that paid homage to the ideals of perfection and form. ‘I look for the perfection of form. I do this in portraits, in photographs of penises, in photographs of flowers.’ The fact that the photographs are displayed on snow-white walls underpins this view of his work and consciously moves away from the coy Boudoir-style presentation of his photographs on lilac and purple walls a dominant feature of exhibitions of Mapplethorpe’s work for many years and opens up the work to a more concept-based, minimalist view of things.

The selection of over 150 photographs covers early Polaroids from 1973 to his final self-portraits from the year 1988, which show how marked he was by illness and hint at his impending death, and also includes both many well-known, almost iconic images as well as some never-before seen or rarely shown works. The curators delved deep into the collection of the New York-based Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to create this retrospective.

Press release from the NRW-Forum Dusseldorf website [Online] Cited 02/08/2010 no longer available online

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Greg Cauley-Cock' 1980 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Greg Cauley-Cock
1980
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Patti Smith' 1975 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Patti Smith
1975
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Self Portrait' 1988 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self Portrait
1988
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Lowell Smith' 1981 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Lowell Smith
1981
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Thomas' 1987 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Thomas
1987
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Used by permission

 

 

NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft
Ehrenhof 2, 40479 Düsseldorf
Phone: +49 (0)211 – 89 266 90

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Closed Mondays

NRW-Forum Dusseldorf website

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26
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe’ at Phoenix Art Museum

Exhibition dates: 21st March – 12th July, 2009

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Rock formations on the Road to Lee's Ferry, Arizona' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Rock formations on the Road to Lee’s Ferry, Arizona
2008
Digital inkjet print
36″ h x 76″ w

Left inset: William Bell. Plateau North of the Colorado River near the Paris 1872 (courtesy National Archives)
Right inset: William Bell. Headlands North of the Colorado River 1872 (courtesy National Archives)

 

 

An interesting concept but I’m not entirely sure that the images are successful. Some work better than others. Perhaps it is not necessary for there to be an absolute registration across time and space, the continuation of a horizon line for example. The famous photographic collages by David Hockney are a case in point.

It doesn’t matter when the images were made, whether there is a second, or a century, between compositions. The camera and the artist are always selective, the camera always privileging one view over another view: all images are therefore constructions. Hockney pushes the boundaries of these constructions whereas I don’t think these images do to anywhere near the same extent.

There were some vaguely interesting videos on the Phoenix Art Museum website about the starting point, discovery, process and collaboration for the work which are no longer available. There is one video available on the Klett and Wolfe website.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Phoenix Art Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

William H. Bell (1830 - January 28, 1910) 'Headlands North of the Colorado River' 1872

 

William H. Bell (American, 1830-1910)
Headlands North of the Colorado River
1872
Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division
Courtesy National Archives

 

 

Arizona’s Grand Canyon – natural wonder, national park, tourist attraction, sacred land – is perhaps the world’s best “photo op.” The collaborative photographic team of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe have set out to explore this celebrated place of dramatic beauty, and Phoenix Art Museum is proud to be the first to show a comprehensive look at their powerful, thoughtful, and playful approach to the Grand Canyon.

Drawn from two seasons of fieldwork, Charting the Canyon will include about 30 photographs ranging from a modest 20 by 20-inch print to a panorama nearly 10 feet wide. Mark Klett, a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and Byron Wolfe, a former student of Klett’s who is now a Lantis’ University Professor teaches at California State University at Chico, have been interested in rephotographing historic images since their collaboration began in 1997.

Now the pair combines their own colour photographs with imagery by 19th-century photographer J. K. Hillers and artist William Holmes and by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, who worked at the Canyon in the early 20th century. Klett and Wolfe respond to the historic images and the Canyon itself, yielding artworks that reconsider an icon, challenge how we perceive the land, and bring a new perspective to its portrayals.

Charting the Canyon offers visual delights: the humorous layering of a 19th-century drawing with contemporary photographic details, the extension of an Ansel Adams view into a serene panorama, and the illusion of three-dimensions with a stereopticon viewer built for the twenty-first century, among others to be discovered in this unique exhibition.

Text from the Phoenix Art Museum website [Online] Cited 20/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Sixty-six years after Edward Weston's "Storm, Arizona" From the Marble Canyon Trading Post' 2007

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Sixty-six years after Edward Weston’s “Storm, Arizona” From the Marble Canyon Trading Post
2007
Digital inkjet print
16″ h x 38.75″ w

Left: Edward Weston. Storm, Arizona 1941 (courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson)

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Desert View: from the window of the Watchtower gift shop' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Desert View: from the window of the Watchtower gift shop
2008

 

 

The Grand Canyon – natural wonder, sacred ground, national park, international tourist attraction – is perhaps the world’s best “photo op.” Vivid colours, breathtaking vistas and jaw dropping canyon depths have lured photographers to Northern Arizona for years. A new exhibition, Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe on view at Phoenix Art Museum through July 12, 2009, explores this celebrated place of dramatic beauty with large-scale sweeping panoramas that marry 21st century colour photographs with historic drawings and images.

In 2007, Mark Klett, a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and Byron Wolfe, a former student of Klett’s and now a Lantis’ University Professor at California State University at Chico, headed to the Grand Canyon to re-envision the many images made at the site over the last 150 years. During two summers of field work, they identified the exact locations portrayed in early photographs and drawings. From those geographic points they created new photographs that incorporate the original view. Digital versions of the historic images are inserted within the contemporary photograph, creating combined images that convey the big picture surrounding earlier artists’ depicted view.

Working collaboratively, Klett and Wolfe challenge one another to invent new ways to integrate the historic images they discover. Charting the Canyon reveals their combined invention, offering provocative ways to think about the land, its history and our role in seeing it.

“Many of the things we’re trying to do seemed impossible at first – like merging several views of a scene from different times into a continuous space, or extending one photo’s frame to include spaces from multiple vantage points,” commented Klett. “We’re intentionally using playfulness as a way to stretch ideas, a kind of free form exploration that puts a premium on creative solutions to complex space and time problems.”

“The pleasure the artists experienced in the creative process comes through in their work. Charting the Canyon is a joyful exploration allowing Museum visitors to discover the Grand Canyon in a new and thought-provoking way,” commented Rebecca Senf, Norton Family Assistant Curator of photography, Phoenix Art Museum. “Phoenix Art Museum is proud to be the first to show a comprehensive look at Klett and Wolfe’s powerful, thoughtful and playful images.”

Charting the Canyon includes 26 photographs ranging from a modest 20 by 20-inch print to a panorama 10 feet wide. Exhibition highlights include:
The humorous layering of a 19th-century drawing with contemporary photographic details.
The extension of an Ansel Adams view into a serene panorama.
The pairing of a black-and-white Edward Weston view with a colour image made 66 years later.
The illusion of three-dimensions with a stereopticon viewer built for the 21st century.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Point Imperial on the Grand Canyon' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Point Imperial on the Grand Canyon, 50% Ansel Adams, 50% Red Wall Limestone
2008

Left: Ansel Adams. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 1941

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) 'Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona' 1941

 

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
1941
Gelatin silver print

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Panorama from Hopi Point on the Grand Canyon, made over two days extending the view of Ansel Adams' 2007 

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Panorama from Hopi Point on the Grand Canyon, made over two days extending the view of Ansel Adams
2007

Right: Ansel Adams. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 1941 (Courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ)

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) 'Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona' 1941

 

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
1941
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ

 

 

“We’re intentionally using playfulness as a way to extend ideas, a kind of free-form exploration that puts a premium on creative solutions to complex space and time problems. Many of the things we’re trying to do seemed impossible at first – like merging several views of a scene from different times into a continuous space, or extending one photo’s frame to include spaces from multiple vantage points.”

Klett and Wolfes process of inserting historic views within contemporary photographs, or linking a number of different historic views, emphasises the possibilities of multiple interpretations of a single landscape. If we look at a photograph of the Grand Canyon, we bring to it our own cultural notions, myths, and memories, and read it based on our personal point of view. By bringing together images made throughout time, Klett and Wolfe remind us that any terrain is not only what we see and think about it in this present moment, but it is part of a long evolution of thought and use that includes the past and future, as well. The team’s photographs present time as overlapping layers, much like the stratigraphic rock of the Canyon. This unconventional presentation encourages viewers to see time as a flexible construction.

Text by Rebecca Senf, Assistant Curator of photography, Phoenix Art Museum from the exhibition brochure [Online] Cited 20/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Details from the view at Point Sublime on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, based on the panoramic drawing by William Holmes (1882)' 2007

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Details from the view at Point Sublime on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, based on the panoramic drawing by William Holmes (1882)
2007

Lithograph by William Henry Holmes, 1882. From Clarence Dutton, Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

David Hockney. 'Pearblossom Highway., 11 - 18th April 1986 #2' 1986

 

David Hockney (English, b. 1937)
Pearblossom Highway., 11-18th April 1986 #2
1986

 

 

Phoenix Art Museum
McDowell Road & Central Avenue
1625 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Opening hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10am – 9pm
Thursday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Phoenix Museum of Art website

Byron Wolfe website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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