Posts Tagged ‘the male nude

29
Sep
17

Photographs: Lionel Wendt’s Ceylon

September 2017

 

More photographs from the artist Lionel Wendt.

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (Still life with mask and statue)' 1942

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Still life with mask and statue)
1942
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled' c. 1933-38

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
c. 1933-38
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled' c. 1933-38

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
c. 1933-38
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (Sea landscape)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Sea landscape)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'I Heard A Voice Wailing Where The Ships Went Sailing' c. 1935-40

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
I Heard A Voice Wailing Where The Ships Went Sailing
c. 1935-1940
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (At the well)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (At the well)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (At the well)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (At the well)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (At the well)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (At the well)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (At the pottery)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (At the pottery)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel-Wendt. 'Untitled (Architecture surréaliste)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Architecture surréaliste)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (Buddha head and wine goblet)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Buddha head and wine goblet)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Gunaya Yakdessa Costume' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Gunaya Yakdessa Costume
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled' c. 1933-38

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Solarised woman)
c. 1933-38
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled' c. 1934-37

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Solarised nude)
c. 1934-1937
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Solarised man in ocean)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'The Misery of Balanced Perplexities' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
The Misery of Balanced Perplexities
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Untitled (Canes)' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled (Canes)
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Untitled
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Lionel Wendt. 'Narayanan' Nd

 

Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, 1900-1944)
Narayanan
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

 

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30
Dec
14

Exhibition: ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Exhibition dates: 6th September 2014 – 4th January 2015

Curator: Susanna Brown, Curator of Photographs at the V&A

 

 

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

 

Installation image of Horst – Photographer of Style at the V&A
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

 

Steichen, Penn, Avedon, Newman – and then there is Horst, master of them all. Style, elegance, lighting, framing, colour but above all panache – the guts and talent to push it just that little bit further.

Marcus

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

 

 

“Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again.”

.
Horst, 1984

 

 

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

Installation image of 'Horst - Photographer of Style' at the V&A

 

Installation images of Horst – Photographer of Style at the V&A
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

 

This autumn, the V&A will present the definitive retrospective exhibition of the work of master photographer Horst P. Horst (1906-1999) – one of the leading photographers of the 20th century. In his illustrious 60-year career, German-born Horst worked predominantly in Paris and New York and creatively traversed the worlds of photography, art, fashion, design, theatre and high society.

Horst: Photographer of Style will display 250 photographs, alongside haute couture garments, magazines, film footage and ephemera. The exhibition explores Horst’s collaborations and friendships with leading couturiers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris; stars including Marlene Dietrich and Noël Coward; and artists and designers such as Salvador Dalí and Jean-Michel Frank. Highlights of the exhibition include photographs recently donated to the V&A by Gert Elfering, art collector and owner of the Horst Estate, previously unpublished vintage prints, and more than 90 Vogue covers by Horst.

The exhibition will also reveal lesser-known aspects of Horst’s work: nude studies, travel photographs from the Middle East and patterns created from natural forms. The creative process behind some of his most famous photographs, such as the Mainbocher Corset, will be revealed through the inclusion of original contact sheets, sketches and cameras. The many sources that influenced Horst – from ancient Classical art to Bauhaus ideals of modern design and Surrealism in 1930s Paris – will be explored.

Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said: “Horst was one of the greatest photographers of fashion and society and produced some of the most famous and evocative images of the 20th century. This exhibition will shine a light on all aspects of his long and distinguished career. Horst’s legacy and influence, which has been seen in work by artists, designers and performers including Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and Madonna, continues today.”

Horst’s career straddled the opulence of pre-war Parisian haute couture and the rise of ready-to-wear in post-war New York and his style developed from lavish studio set-ups to a more austere approach in the latter half of the 20th century. The exhibition will begin in the 1930s with Horst’s move to Paris and his early experiments in the Vogue studio. Among his first models and muses were Lisa Fonssagrives, Helen Bennett and Lyla Zelensky. Vintage black and white photographs from the archive of Paris Vogue will be displayed alongside garments in shades of black, white, silver and gold by Parisian couturiers such as Chanel, Lanvin, Molyneux and Vionnet.

The exhibition will then focus on Horst’s Surreal-inspired studies and collaborations with Salvador Dalí and Elsa Schiaparelli. Fashion photographs will be shown with trompe l’oeil portraits and haunting still life. Horst excelled at portraiture and in the 1930s he captured some of Hollywood’s brightest stars: Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Noël Coward, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, to name a few.

Horst travelled widely throughout the 1940s and 1950s to Israel, Iran, Syria, Italy and Morocco. An escape from the world of fashion and city environs, his little-known travel photographs reveal a fascination for ancient cultures, landscapes and architecture. On display will be works taken in Iran such as the Persepolis Bull, Horst’s powerful image of a vast sculpture head amidst the ruins of a once magnificent palace, and images documenting the annual migration of the nomadic Qashqai clan.

Detailed studies of natural forms such as flowers, minerals, shells and butterfly wings from the project Patterns From Nature, will be shown alongside a series of kaleidoscopic collages made by arranging photographs in simple repeat; his intention was that these dynamic patterns could be used as designs for textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics and glass.

Horst was admired for his dramatic lighting and became one of the first photographers to perfect the new colour techniques of the 1930s. A short film of him at work in the Vogue studios during the 1940s will be shown with an introduction to his peers including Lee Miller, Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn. The advent of colour enabled a fresh approach and Horst went on to create more than 90 Vogue covers and countless pages in vivid colour. A selection of 25 large colour photographs, newly printed from the original transparencies from the Condé Nast Archive, will demonstrate Horst’s exceptional skill as a colourist. These prints feature Horst’s favourite models from the 1940s and 50s, such as Carmen Dell’Orefice, Muriel Maxwell and Dorian Leigh, and will be shown together with preparatory sketches, which have never previously been exhibited.

In the early 1950s, Horst created a series of male nudes for an exhibition in Paris for which the models were carefully posed and dramatically lit to accentuate their musculature. The series evokes the classical sculpture that Horst so admired throughout his career. During the 1960s and 1970s, Horst photographed some of the world’s most beautiful and luxurious homes for House and Garden and Vogue under the editorship of his friend Diana Vreeland. A three-sided projection and interactive screens will present these colourful studies. Among the most memorable are the Art Deco apartment of Karl Lagerfeld, the three lavish dwellings of Yves Saint Laurent and the Roman palazzo of artist Cy Twombly.

In the latter years of Horst’s life, his early aesthetic experienced a renaissance. The period also witnessed a flurry of new books, exhibitions, and television documentaries celebrating his work. Horst produced new, lavish prints in platinum-palladium for museums and the collector’s market, selecting emblematic works from every decade of his career, which will be showcased as the finale to the exhibition.

Press release from the V&A

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Chanel, Vogue France' 1935

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Chanel, Vogue France
1935
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

 

A fore-runner of the timeless look of Chanel, here in brown and white check rayon with collar, cuffs and lapels in white piquè that matches the buttoned top.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Hat and coat-dress by Bergdorf Goodman, modelled by Estrella Boissevain' 1938

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Hat and coat-dress by Bergdorf Goodman, modelled by Estrella Boissevain
1938
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Corset by Detolle for Mainbocher' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Corset by Detolle for Mainbocher
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Lisa with Turban, New York' 1940

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa with Turban, New York
1940
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Gertrude Stein at Balmain Fashion Show' 1946

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Gertrude Stein at Balmain Fashion Show
1946
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Birthday Gloves, New York' 1947

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Birthday Gloves, New York
1947
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lillian Marcuson in Dior's belted two-piece suit in black rustic wool, called 'Milieu du Siècle'' 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lillian Marcuson in Dior’s belted two-piece suit in black rustic wool, called ‘Milieu du Siècle’
1949
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Nina de Voe' 1951

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Nina de Voe
1951
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lillian Marcuson, New York' 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lillian Marcuson, New York
1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Outfit by Tina Leser' Vogue, April 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Outfit by Tina Leser
Vogue, April 1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Bombay Bathing Fashion' 1950

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Bombay Bathing Fashion
1950
© Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

Model (unidentified) and Dorian Leigh (r) in bathing suit and sleeveless shirt cover-up by Carolyn Schnurer 1951 Vogue

 

 

Haute Couture

When Horst joined Vogue in 1931, Paris was still the world’s undisputed centre of high fashion. Photography had begun to eclipse graphic illustration in fashion magazines and the publisher Condé Montrose Nast devoted large sums to improving the quality of image reproduction. He insisted that Vogue photographers work with a large format camera, which produced richly detailed negatives measuring ten by eight inches.

The creation of a Horst photograph was a collaborative process, involving the talents of the photographer and model, the art director, fashion editor, studio assistants and set technicians. The modelling profession was still in its infancy in the 1930s and many of those who posed under the hot studio lights were stylish friends of the magazine’s staff, often actresses or aristocrats.

By the mid 1930s, Horst had superseded his mentor George Hoyningen-Huene as Paris Vogue‘s primary photographer. His images frequently appeared in the French, British and American editions of the magazine. Many of the photographs on display in the exhibition are vintage prints from the company’s archive.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dress by Hattie Carnegie' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dress by Hattie Carnegie
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dress by Hattie Carnegie' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dress by Hattie Carnegie
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Summer Fashions, American Vogue cover' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Summer Fashions, American Vogue cover
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Dinner suit and headdress by Schiaparelli' 1947

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Dinner suit and headdress by Schiaparelli
1947
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Millicent Rogers in a Charles James gown and a gold necklace of her own design' Vogue, February 1, 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Millicent Rogers in a Charles James gown and a gold necklace of her own design
Vogue,
February 1, 1949
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst in Colour from Victoria and Albert Museum

 

This film reveals the process of creating new colour prints for the exhibition Horst: Photographer of Style. Horst was quick to master new colour processes, introduced in the late 1930s, and he created hundreds of vibrant fashion photographs for Vogue.

The V&A team worked closely with specialists at the Condé Nast Archive and expert printer Ken Allen to select and print from Horst’s early transparencies, which date from the 1930s to the 1950s. The film includes insights into Horst’s dynamic approach from model Carmen Dell’Orefice and Vogue‘s International Editor at Large, Hamish Bowles.​

 

Fashion in Colour

The 1930s ushered in huge technical advancements in colour photography. Horst adapted quickly to a new visual vocabulary, creating some of Vogue‘s most dazzling colour images. In 1935 he photographed the Russian Princess Nadejda Sherbatow in a red velveteen jacket for the first of his many Vogue cover pictures.

The occupation of Paris transformed the world of fashion. The majority of French ateliers closed and many couturiers and buyers left the country. Remaining businesses struggled with extreme shortages of cloth and other supplies. The scarcity of French fashions in America, however, enabled American designers to come into their own.

Horst’s colour photographs are rarely exhibited because few vintage prints exist. Colour capture took place on a transparency which could be reproduced on the magazine page without the need to create a photographic print. The size of the new prints displayed in this room of the exhibition echoes the large scale of a group of Horst images printed in 1938 at the Condé Nast press.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Marlene Dietrich, New York' 1942

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Marlene Dietrich, New York
1942
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Gloria Vanderbilt age 17 wearing a dress by Howard Greer, New York' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Gloria Vanderbilt age 17 wearing a dress by Howard Greer, New York
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

At 17, in Beverly Hills wearing a tabletop dress by Howard Greer. Tabletop dresses looked good from the waist up when stars were photographed sitting in restaurants and nightclub

 

 

Stage and Screen

Horst’s portraits spanned a wide cross-section of subjects, from artists and writers to presidents and royalty. In the 1930s, he became aware of a new focus for his work. As he later noted in his book Salute to the Thirties (1971), glamorous Hollywood movie stars were imperceptibly assuming the place left vacant by Europe’s vanishing royal families. With the approach of the Second World War, the escapism offered by theatre and cinema gained in popularity. Horst began to photograph these new, classless celebrities, both in costume and as themselves.

The first well-known star Horst photographed was the English performer Gertrude Lawrence, then appearing in Ronald Jeans’ play Can the Leopard…? at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Horst’s first portrait of a Hollywood actress, Bette Davis, appeared in Vogue‘s sister magazine Vanity Fair in 1932.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Round the Clock, New York' 1987

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Round the Clock, New York
1987
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Platinum

The 1980s witnessed a flurry of new books, exhibitions and television documentaries about Horst. He produced new prints for museums and the collector’s market, selecting emblematic works from every decade of his career to be reprinted in platinum-palladium, sometimes with new titles. This was a complex and expensive technique, employing metals more expensive than gold. Failing eyesight finally forced him to stop working in 1992.

Horst’s platinum-palladium prints are treasured for their nuanced tones, surface quality and permanence. His style had experienced a renaissance in 1978 when Francine Crescent, French Vogue‘s editor in chief, had invited him to photograph the Paris collections. Horst’s work for her echoed his atmospheric, spot-lit studies of the 1930s. His use of the platinum process for creating new and reproducing early works ensured his mastery of light, mood and composition would be enjoyed by a new audience.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Male Nude #3' 1952, printed 1980s

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Male Nude #3
1952, printed 1980s
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Still Life' Nd

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Still Life
Nd
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Male Nude' 1952

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Male Nude
1952
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Male Nudes

In the early 1950s Horst produced a set of distinctive photographs unlike much of his previous output. These male figure studies were exhibited for the first time in Paris in 1953 and reprinted using the platinum-palladium process in the 1980s. The studies exemplify Horst’s sense of form. All emphasis is on the idealised human body, expressive light and shadow. Monumental and anonymous nudes resemble classical sculptures. As Mehemed Agha (1929-78), art director of American Vogue, commented:

“Horst takes the inert clay of human flesh and models it into the decorative shapes of his own devising. Every gesture of his models is planned, every line controlled and coordinated to the whole of the picture. Some gestures look natural and careless, because carefully rehearsed; the others, like Voltaire’s god, were invented by the artist because they did not exist.”

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Salvador Dali's costumes for Leonid Massine's ballet 'Bacchanale'' 1939

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Salvador Dali’s costumes for Leonid Massine’s ballet Bacchanale
1939
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lisa Fonssagrives hands, New York' 1941

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa Fonssagrives hands, New York
1941
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Odalisque I' 1943

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Odalisque I
1943
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P.Horst. 'Bunny Hartley' Vogue, 1938

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Bunny Hartley
Vogue,
1938
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Lisa Fonssagrives "I Love You"' 1937

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Lisa Fonssagrives “I Love You”
1937
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Surrealism

The Surrealist art movement explored unique ways of interpreting the world, turning to dreams and the unconscious for inspiration. During the 1930s Surrealism escaped its radical avant-garde roots and transformed design, fashion, advertising, theatre and film. Horst’s photographs of this period feature mysterious, whimsical and surreal elements combined with his classical aesthetic. He created trompe l’oeil still life, photographed the surreal-infused dress designs of his friend Elsa Schiaparelli and collaborated with the artist Salvador Dalí. He shared with the Surrealists a fascination with the representation of the female body, often fragmenting and eroticising the human form in his images.

His most celebrated photograph of the era is Mainbocher Corset (1939). Decades after the photograph was made, Main Bocher himself expressed his admiration for Horst’s virtuosity, writing,

“Your photographs are sheer genius and delight my soul … each one is perfect by itself.”

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Patterns from Nature Photographic Collage' 1945

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Patterns from Nature Photographic Collage
1945
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Patterns from Nature

Horst’s second book, Patterns from Nature (1946), and the photographs from which it originated, are a surprising diversion from the high glamour of his fashion and celebrity photographs. These close-up, black and white images of plants, shells and minerals were taken in New York’s Botanical Gardens, in the forests of New England, in Mexico, and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

This personal project was partly inspired by photographs of plants by Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Horst was struck by “their revelation of the similarity of vegetable forms to art forms like wrought iron and Gothic architecture.” Horst’s interest was also linked to the technical purity of ‘photographic seeing’, a philosophy associated with the New Objectivity movement of the 1920s and ’30s. Practitioners took natural forms out of their contexts and examined them with such close attention that they became unfamiliar and revelatory.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'View of ruins at the palace of Persepolis, Persia' 1949

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
View of ruins at the palace of Persepolis, Persia
1949
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Travel

In the summer of 1949, Horst journeyed to the Middle East with his partner Valentine Lawford, then political counsellor at the British Embassy in Tehran. They travelled by road from Beirut to Persepolis, where Horst was able to photograph parts of the ancient Persian city that had only recently been uncovered. Afterwards, Horst visited the newly established State of Israel on a photographic assignment for Vogue.

The trip left a strong impression on Horst and he returned in the spring of 1950. He spent a week with Lawford at the relatively remote south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, before documenting the annual migration of the Qashqa’i clan. Horst and Lawford were invited by Malik Mansur Khan Qashqa’i to spend ten days with his tribe as they travelled by camel and horse, in search of vegetation for their flocks.

 

Horst P. Horst. 'Yves Saint Laurent poses in the apartment's grand salon for a November 1971 'Vogue' photo spread' 1971

 

Horst P. Horst (German-American, 1906-1999)
Yves Saint Laurent poses in the apartment’s grand salon for a November 1971 ‘Vogue’ photo spread
1971
© Conde Nast / Horst Estate

 

 

Living in Style

In 1947 Horst acquired five acres of land in Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, part of the estate once owned by the designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. On the land he described as ‘everything I had ever dreamed of’, Horst built a unique house and landscaped garden. British diplomat Valentine Lawford visited for the first time in 1947, with Noël Coward, Christopher Isherwood, and Greta Garbo. It was the beginning of a relationship with Horst that would last until Lawford’s death in 1991.

They welcomed many friends and visitors to Long Island, including the dynamic editor Diana Vreeland. She left Harper’s Bazaar for Vogue in 1962 and soon put the couple to work on Vogue‘s ‘Fashions in Living’ pages. The homes and tastes of everyone from Jackie Onassis to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Andy Warhol and Karl Lagerfeld featured in their articles. Horst’s creative chemistry with Vreeland brought him a new lease of life.

 

Roy Stevens. 'Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives' 15 May 1941

 

Roy Stevens (American, b. 1916)
Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives
15 May 1941
© Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

 

 

In the Studio

During the 1940s Horst worked primarily in the Condé Nast studio on the 19th floor of the Graybar Building, an Art Deco skyscraper on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue. The busy studio was well equipped with a variety of lights and props and Horst worked closely with talented art director Alexander Liberman. Like Horst, he had found refuge in the artistic circles of Paris and New York, and enjoyed a long career with Condé Nast.

By 1946 dressing the American woman had become one of the country’s largest industries, grossing over six billion dollars a year. The staff of Vogue expanded accordingly. In 1951 Horst found a studio of his own, the former penthouse apartment of artist Pavel Tchelitchew, with high ceilings and a spectacular view over the river. Horst developed a new approach to photography in response to the abundance of daylight and for a time his famous atmospheric shadows disappeared.

 

 

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Opening hours:
The V&A is open daily from 10.00 to 17.45 and until 22.00 on Fridays

Victoria and Albert Museum website

Horst web page

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14
Dec
13

Exhibition: ‘Masculine / Masculine: The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the present day’ at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Exhibition dates: 24th September 2013 – 2nd January 2014

 

Camille Félix Bellanger. 'Abel' 1874-75

 

Camille Félix Bellanger (French, 1853-1953)
Abel
1874-1875
Oil on canvas
110.5cm (43.5 in) x 215.4cm (84.8 in)
© Musée d’Orsay

 

 

The von Gloeden is stunning and some of the paintings are glorious: the muscularity / blood red colour in Falguière by Lutteurs d’Alexandre (1875, below); the beauty of Ángel Zárraga’s Votive Offering (Saint Sebastian) (1912, below); the sheer nakedness and earthiness of the Freud; and the colour, form and (homo)eroticism of The Bath by Paul Cadmus (1951, below), with their pert buttocks and hands washing suggestively.

But there is nothing too outrageous here. Heaven forbid!

After all, this is the male nude as curatorial commodity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Musée d’Orsay for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

“The high brow peep show is divided thematically into depictions of religion, mythology, athleticism, homosexuality, and shifting notions of manliness. Wandering the Musee’s grand halls you will see rippling Greco-Roman Apollonian gods, Egon Schiele’s finely rendered, debauched self portraits and David LaChapelle’s 90s macho-kitsch celebs. Edward Munch’s hazy, pastel bathers mingle with Lucian Freud’s grossly erotic fleshy animals and reverent depictions of Christ and Saint Sebastian, showing the many ways to interpret a body sans outerwear.”

.
Priscilla Frank. “‘Masculine/Masculine’ Explores Male Nude Throughout Art History And We Couldn’t Be Happier (NSFW),” on the Huffpost Arts and Culture website, 26/09/2013 updated 07/12/2017 [Online] Cited 02/01/2021

 

 

Jean Delville (1867-1953) 'École de Platon' (School of Plato) 1898

 

Jean Delville (Belgium, 1867-1953)
École de Platon (School of Plato)
1898
Oil on canvas
H. 260; W. 605cm
© RMN (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

 

 

In the late 19th century, Belgium was one of the great centres of European symbolism. Jean Delville’s paintings and writings expressed the most esoteric side of the movement. In the mid-1880s, Delville’s discovery of the symbolist milieu in Paris and the friendships he made there led him to break with the naturalism inherited from his academic training. Thus his friendship with the Sâr Péladan and his regular attendance at the Salon of the Rose+Croix, testified to his belief in an intellectual art which focused on evocation more than description.

School of Plato, a decoration intended for the Sorbonne but never installed there, is a striking work in many respects. Its monumental size and its ambitious message – an interpretation of classical philosophy seen through the prism of the symbolist ideal – set it apart. The manifesto makes no secret of its references, from Raphael to Puvis de Chavannes, but envelops them in the strange charm of a deliberately unreal colour range. The ambiguity emanating from this fin de siècle Mannerism knowingly blurs the borderline between purity and sensuality.

 

Jules Elie Delaunay. 'Ixion Thrown Into the Flames' 1876

 

Jules-Élie Delaunay (French, 1828-1891)
Ixion Thrown Into the Flames
1876
© RMN-Grand Palais / Gérard Blot

 

Eadweard Muybridge. 'Motion Study (Men wrestling)' 1887

 

Eadweard Muybridge (British, 1830-1904)
Motion Study (Men wrestling)
1887
Plate 332 from Animal Locomotion
Collotype plate 1872-1885
© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN / Alexis Brandt

 

Kehinde Wiley. 'Death of Abel Study' 2008

 

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977)
Death of Abel Study
2008
© Kehinde Wiley, Courtesy Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA & Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris

 

Paul Cézanne. 'Baigneurs' (Bathers) 1890

 

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906)
Baigneurs (Bathers)
1890
Oil on canvas
60.0 x 82.0cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of Baroness Eva Gebhard-Gourgaud 1965
© RMN (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

 

 

In this work the arrangement of the bathers is brilliantly orchestrated – a complex grouping of foregrounded figures is contrapuntally arranged against another group occupying the middle ground. There is a strong classical echo to the triangular, pedimental architecture of these four foregrounded figures, anchoring the work compositionally. The effect is to create an architecturally interlocking circle of figures surrounding a group of bathers in the water or sitting on the banks. The corporeal presence of the foregrounded figures and the luminosity of their skin tones are echoed in the volumetric forms of the cumulus clouds that loom in the background. We see Cézanne’s technical confidence in the way the terrain has been flattened and the treescape simplified. He uses trees here not for their anecdotal fidelity, but to anchor the composition at key points.

There is an undeniable sense of ritual in this work. Some commentators interpret the scene as baptismal – Cézanne became a devout catholic in 1890 – with the figure at left pouring water over the head of a partially submerged bather to his right. But it is also clear here that Cézanne mixes the sacred with the profane. There is a celebratory, Arcadian purity which finds its mirror in the compositional structure as a whole, whether it be the way in which light reflects off the facets of the bodies or in which it is refracted off the looming cloud masses. A paganistic, sensual exuberance informs the way in which the figures circle the bathers in the water, which Henri Matisse’s famous The dance 1910 will later recall. (Matisse was a great admirer of Cézanne’s work and owned a number of his paintings.) And it is probably no coincidence that the ‘attendant’ holds a luminous, vulva-shaped towel at the very centre of the composition. Grammatically, the title Baigneurs does not preclude the possibility that some of the participants may be female – the seated figure who is, significantly, adjacent to the towel, appears to be clearly female, for example. Bathers, then, is redolent with meaning. This is a powerfully multivalent work, and along with the later The large bathers paintings of 1894-1905 and 1900-1905, is considered to be one of Cézanne’s great masterpieces.

Mark Henshaw

Text from the National Gallery of Canberra website [Online] Cited 02/01/2021

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Les adolescents' (Teenagers) 1906

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Les adolescents (Teenagers)
1906
Oil on canvas
157 x 117cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l’Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski © Succession Picasso 2015

 

 

This red/pink monochrome that characterises The Adolescents first appeared after Picasso’s visit to Gosol with his partner Fernande. The earth in this village in the Catalan Pyrenees was done in an unusual ochre colour that Picasso included in his “Rose Period” (1904-1906). Two nude figures, outlined and modelled on a monochrome background, give the image a sculptural and classical character. The poses are hieratic: the young man crosses his arms above his head, while the young woman, or androgynous adolescent, balances a pitcher on her head in a timeless pose. Jean Cassou highlighted the Mediterranean character of this brief phase in Picasso’s art, and its relationship with the art of Maillol (1861-1944). Undulating lines can be made out below the legs of the two figures. This in fact is the sketch from another composition intended to be in horizontal format, but which the artist chose to erase. Paul Guillaume bought this beautiful painting in 1930. It came from the art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). The “pink classicism” of this painting seems to anticipate the period after 1906 of the “return to order”, which characterised Picasso’s work in the 1920s, and which corresponds with other paintings in the Orangerie like the large Bathers of the 1920s.

Provenance: Ambroise Vollard, Paris; Paul Guillaume (1930); Domenica Walter

Text from the Musée de l’Orangerie website [Online] Cited 08/01/2021

 

Auguste Rodin. 'The Age of Bronze' 1875-76

 

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
The Age of Bronze
1875-1876
Bronze
H. 180.5cm ; W. 68.5cm ; D. 54.5cm

 

 

Made in Brussels, this figure, one of Rodin’s most famous works, attests to the sculptor’s masterly skill and his attention to living nature that informs the pose and the modelling.A young Belgian soldier, Auguste Ney,was the model for this statue devoid of any element that would shed light on the subject’s identity. The untitled work was exhibited at the Cercle Artistique, Brussels, in 1877, then, entitled The Age of Bronze, at the Salon in Paris, where it caused a scandal.

Also known as The Awakening Man or The Vanquished One, the statue recalls one of the early ages of mankind. There was originally a spear in the left hand, as is shown in a photograph by Gaudenzio Marconi, but Rodin decided to suppress the weapon so as to free the arm of any attribute and infuse the gesture with a new liberality.

Accused of having used a life cast of his sitter, when the statue was shown in Paris, Rodin had to prove that the quality of his sculpture’s modelling came from a thorough study of profiles, not from a life cast. His critics eventually recognised that the sculptor was innocent of any trickery. The scandal, however, did draw attention to Rodin and earned him the commission for The Gates of Hell in 1880.

Text from the Musée Rodin website [Online] Cited 08/01/2020

 

 

While it has been quite natural for the female nude to be regularly exhibited, the male nude has not been accorded the same treatment. It is highly significant that until the show at the Leopold Museum in Vienna in the autumn of 2012, no exhibition had opted to take a fresh approach, over a long historical perspective, to the representation of the male nude. However, male nudity was for a long time, from the 17th to 19th centuries, the basis of traditional Academic art training and a key element in Western creative art. Therefore when presenting the exhibition Masculine / Masculine, the Musée d’Orsay, drawing on the wealth of its own collections (with several hitherto unknown sculptures) and on other French public collections, aims to take an interpretive, playful, sociological and philosophical approach to exploring all aspects and meanings of the male nude in art. Given that the 19th century took its inspiration from 18th century classical art, and that this influence still resonates today, the Musée d’Orsay is extending its traditional historical range in order to draw a continuous arc of creation through two centuries down to the present day. The exhibition will include the whole range of techniques: painting, sculpture, graphic arts and, of course, photography, which will have an equal place in the exhibition.

To convey the specifically masculine nature of the body, the exhibition, in preference to a dull chronological presentation, takes the visitor on a journey through a succession of thematic focuses, including the aesthetic canons inherited from Antiquity, their reinterpretation in the Neo-Classical, Symbolist and contemporary eras where the hero is increasingly glorified, the Realist fascination for truthful representation of the body, nudity as the body’s natural state, the suffering of the body and the expression of pain, and finally its eroticisation. The aim is to establish a genuine dialogue between different eras in order to reveal how certain artists have been prompted to reinterpret earlier works. In the mid 18th century, Winckelmann examined the legacy of the divine proporzioni of the body inherited from Antiquity, which, in spite of radical challenges, still apply today having mysteriously come down through the history of art as the accepted definition of beauty. From Jacques-Louis David to George Platt-Lynes, LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles, and including Gustave Moreau, a whole series of connections is revealed, based around issues of power, censorship, modesty, the boundaries of public expectation and changes in social mores.

Winckelmann’s glorification of Greek beauty reveals an implicit carnal desire, relating to men as well as women, which certainly comes down through two centuries from the “Barbus” group and from David’s studio, to David Hockney and the film director James Bidgood. This sensibility also permeates the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries as it questions its own identity, as we see in the extraordinary painting École de Platon [School of Plato], inexplicably purchased by the French state in 1912 from the Belgian artist Delville. Similarly, the exhibition will reveal other visual and intellectual relationships through the works of artists as renowned as Georges de La Tour, Pierre Puget, Abilgaard, Paul Flandrin, Bouguereau, Hodler, Schiele, Munch, Picasso, Bacon, Mapplethorpe, Freud and Mueck, while lining up some surprises like the Mexican Angel Zarraga’s Saint Sébastien (Saint Sebastian), De Chirico’s Les Bains mystérieux (Mysterious Baths) and the erotica of Americans Charles Demuth and Paul Cadmus.

This autumn therefore, the Musée d’Orsay will invite the visitor to an exhibition that challenges the continuity of a theme that has always interested artists, through unexpected yet productive confrontations between the various revivals of the nude man in art.”

Press release from the Musée d’Orsay website

 

Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) 'Academy Drawing of a Man, said to be Patroclu' 1778

 

Jacques Louis David (French, 1748-1825)
Academy Drawing of a Man, said to be Patroclu
1778
Oil on canvas
H. 122; W. 170cm
Cherbourg, musée Thomas-Henry
© Cherbourg, musée Thomas-Henry

 

 

Masculine / Masculine

Why had there never been an exhibition dedicated to the male nude until Nackte Männer at the Leopold Museum in Vienna last year? In order to answer this question, the exhibition sets out to compare works of different eras and techniques, around great themes that have shaped the image of the male body for over two centuries.

We must distinguish above all between nudity and the nude: a body simply without clothes, that causes embarrassment with its lack of modesty, is different from the radiant vision of a body restructured and idealised by the artist. Although this distinction can be qualified, it highlights the positive, uninhibited approach to the nude in western art since the Classical Period.

Today, the nude essentially brings to mind a female body, the legacy of a 19th century that established it as an absolute and as the accepted object of male desire. Prior to this, however, the female body was regarded less favourably than its more structured, more muscular male counterpart. Since the Renaissance, the male nude had been accorded more importance: the man as a universal being became a synonym for Mankind, and his body was established as the ideal human form, as was already the case in Greco-Roman art. Examples of this interpretation abound in the Judeo-Christian cultural heritage: Adam existed before Eve, who was no more than his copy and the origin of sin. Most artists being male, they found an “ideal me” in the male nude, a magnified, narcissistic reflection of themselves. And yet, until the middle of the 20th century, the sexual organ was the source of a certain embarrassment, whether shrunken or well hidden beneath strategically placed drapery, thong or scabbard.

 

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Desmarais (1756-1813) 'Le Berger Pâris' (The Shepherd, Paris) 1787

 

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Desmarais (French, 1756-1813)
Le Berger Pâris (The Shepherd, Paris)
1787
Oil on canvas
H. 177 ; L. 118cm
Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa
© Photo: MBAC

 

 

The Classic Ideal

From the 17th century, training of the highest standard was organised for the most privileged artists. In sculpture and in history painting, the ultimate aim of this teaching was to master the representation of the male nude: this was central to the creative process, as the preparatory studies had to capture the articulation of the body as closely as possible, whether clothed or not, in the finished composition.

In France, pupils studied at the Académie Royale then at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, working from drawings, engravings, sculptures “in the round” and life models. Right up until the late 20th century, these models were exclusively male, for reasons of social morality, but also because the man was considered to have the archetypal human form. In order to be noble and worthy of artistic representation, and to appeal to all, this could not be the body of an ordinary man: the distinctive features of the model had to be tempered in order to elevate the subject.

Above all, the artists of Antiquity and of the Renaissance were considered to have established an ideal synthesis of the human body without being distracted by individual characteristics. For Winckelmann, the German 18th century aesthete, the ideal beauty of Greek statues could only be embodied by the male nude. But although it inspired numerous artists, the “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” of Winckelmann’s gods was undermined by other interpretations of Classical art: the torment of Laocoon, a work from late Antiquity, can be seen in the work of the Danish painter Abildgaard, while David advocated a much more Roman masculinity. Even when challenged, reinterpreted and renewed by the 20th century avant-garde, the Classical male nude and its rich legacy remains an object of fascination right up to the inter-war years and up to the present day.

 

George Hoyningen-Huene (1900-1968) 'Horst P. Horst, Photographie' 1932

 

George Hoyningen-Huene (American born Russia, 1900-1968)
Horst P. Horst, Photographie
1932
Tirage argentique
H. 19 x L. 22.7cm
Hambourg, FC Gundlach
© Droits réservés

 

 

The Heroic Nude

The concept and the word “hero” itself come from ancient Greece: whether a demigod or simply a mortal transcending his human condition to become an exemplum virtutis, he embodies an ideal. The admiration for Classical art and culture explains the ubiquity of the hero in Academic painting, particularly in subjects given to candidates of the Prix de Rome: great history painting thrived on the exploits of supermen in the most perfect bodies.

This connection between anatomy and heroic virtue, conveying noble and universal values, goes back to the Neo-Platonic concept linking beauty and goodness. The hero’s nudity has been so self-evident that the “heroic nude” has become the subject of a recurrent debate about the representation of great men, past or present, no matter how incongruous the result may appear.

Heroism is not a state, rather a means by which the strength of character of an exceptional being man is revealed: although Hercules’ strength is inseparable from his exploits, it was David’s cunning that overcame the powerful Goliath. In both cases they are endowed with a warrior’s strength, which was particularly valued by a 19th century thirsting for virility and patriotic assertion: more than ever, this was the ideal to be attained. We had to wait for the 20th century crisis of masculinity before we could see the renewal of the status of the increasingly contemporary hero, and the diversification of his physical characteristics. However, whether a star or a designer like Yves Saint-Laurent, or even the young men on the streets of Harlem painted by the American Kehinde Wiley, the evocative power of nudity remains.

 

Pierre et Gilles (born respectively in 1950 and 1953) 'Vive la France' 2006

 

Pierre et Gilles (Pierre Commoy, b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Vive la France
2006
(Models: Serge, Moussa and Robert)
Painted photograph, unique piece
H. 125 x W. 101cm
© Pierre et Gilles

 

 

The Gods of the Stadium

The 20th century witnessed the start of a new way of looking at the human body where the focus was on medical aspects and hygiene, and this had a considerable impact on the concept of the artistic nude. Numerous physical education movements and gymnasia appeared. People were captivated by the figure of the “sportsman” and, as in the work of the painter Eugene Jansson, came to admire and covet the virile power of his body in action. This concept is realised in culturalism, the narcissistic admiration of a body that has become an object to be fashioned like an artwork in its own right. Modern man with his athletic morphology has become a new potential ideal: he embodies a beauty that invites comparison with Greco-Roman art.

Linked with the affirmation of national identity, the athlete has come to personify the brute force of the nation and an ability to defend the country in times of war. During the 1930s in the United States, the image of the athlete evolved in a distinctive way, highlighting the ordinary man as a mixture of physical strength and bravery. Totalitarian regimes, however, perverted the cult of the athlete in order to promote their own ideology: Germany linked it in a demiurgic way with the made-up concept of the “Aryan” race, while Mussolini’s government erected marble idols on the Stadio dei Marmi.

 

Jean-Bernard Duseigneur (1808-1866) 'Orlando Furioso' 1867

 

Jean-Bernard Duseigneur (French, 1808-1866)
Orlando Furioso
1867
Cast in bronze
H. 130; W. 146; D. 90cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
© Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Thierry Ollivier

 

 

It’s tough being a Hero

As he moves outside the established order, the mythological hero risks the anger of the gods and the jealousy of men. Although his passions, his moral shortcomings and occasionally his frailties stem from his human condition, he is happy to possess the perfect form of the gods: thus the artist and the spectator find expression of a perfect self. The great dramatic destinies thus give character to the compositions, and enable them to interpret a whole range of emotions from determination to despair, from hostility to eternal rest.

Although it is a platitude to say that feelings are expressed most accurately in the face – from the theorised and institutional drawings of Charles Le Brun to the “tête d’expression” competition at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts – one must not underestimate the key role of the body and the anatomy as vehicles for expressing emotion: certain formal choices even led to generally accepted conventions.

Mythology and the Homeric epic abound with stories of the ill-fated destinies and destructive passions of heroes, whose nudity is justified by its origins in ancient Greece: Joseph-Désiré Court displays the broken body of the ill-fated Hippolytus, a premonition of the transposition in the ancient world of Mort pour la patrie [Dying for The Fatherland] of Lecomte du Nouÿ.

 

Nude Veritas

The Realist aesthetic, which came to the fore in western art during the 19th century, had a dramatic effect on the representation of male nudity. The human body, represented as nature intended, was no longer seen from the decorous distance that characterised the idealised image of the nude, a goal to be achieved through Academic drawing exercises. In this context, where revealing the body was an affront to modesty – in the male-dominated society of the 19th century, the unclothed male appeared even more obscene and shocking than the unclothed female – the male nude gradually became less common as female figures proliferated.

This reversal did not mean, however, that naked men disappeared altogether: scientific study of the male nude, aided by new techniques such as the decomposition of movement through a series of photographs taken in rapid succession – chronophotography – brought advances in the study of anatomy and transformed the teaching of art students. From then on, it was less a case, for the most avant-garde artists, of striving to reproduce a canon of beauty inherited from the past, than of representing a body that retained the harmony of the model’s true characteristics.

The evocative power of the nude inspired artists like the Austrian Schiele to produce nude self portraits that revealed the existential torments of the artist. Invested at times with a Christ-like dimension, these depictions, moving beyond realism into introspection, continued to be produced right up to the 21st century, especially in photography.

 

William Bouguereau (1825-1905) 'Equality before Death' 1848

 

William Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Equality before Death
1848
Oil on Canvas
H. 141; W. 269cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

 

 

Without compromise

The fascination for reality established in artistic circles in the mid 19th century prompted a thorough renewal of religious painting. Although resorting to the classical idealisation of the body seemed to be consistent with religious dogma, artists like Bonnat breathed fresh life into the genre by depicting the harsh truth of the physical condition of biblical figures.

This principle was already at work in Egalité devant la mort (Equality before Death), by Bouguereau, who, in his early work, in the final days of Romanticism, exploited the power of the image of an ordinary corpse. Rodin, far from enhancing the appearance of the novelist that he was invited to celebrate, sought to render Balzac’s corpulent physique with implacable accuracy, without diminishing his grandeur in any way.

The question is thus raised of art’s relationship to reality, a question Ron Mueck tackles in his work. And the strange effect brought about by a change of scale gives an intensity to the dead body of his father that echoes the dead figure in Bouguereau’s painting.

 

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) 'Fisherman with a Net' 1868

 

Frédéric Bazille (French, 1841-1870)
Fisherman with a Net
1868
Oil on canvas
H. 134; W. 83cm
Zurich, Rau Foundation for the Third World
© Lylho / Leemage

 

Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) 'Nude Youth Sitting by the Sea, Study' 1836

 

Hippolyte Flandrin (French, 1809-1864)
Nude Youth Sitting by the Sea, Study
1836
Oil on canvas
H. 98; W. 124cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
© Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Angèle Dequier

 

Gloeden,_Wilhem_von_(1856-1931)-Cain-WEB

 

Wilhelm von Gloeden (German, 1856-1931)
Cain, Taormine, Sicile
1911
© Westlicht, Musée de la Photographie, Vienna

 

 

In Nature

Including the naked body in a landscape was not a new challenge for 19th century artists. In many aspects, this was recurrent in large-scale history painting, and a demanding artistic exercise by which a painter’s technical mastery was judged. It was about making the relationship between the naked body and its setting as accurate as possible in terms of proportion, depth and light. Although Bazille’s Pêcheur à l’épervier [Fisherman with a Net] is one of the most successful attempts – in a contemporary context – at depicting a naked man in an atmospheric light that the Impressionists later took for their own, he nevertheless observed the principles of academic construction.

Masculine nudity in nature took another meaning as society was transformed through technical advances and urbanisation. Man was now seeking a communion with nature, that could reconcile him with the excesses and the sense of dislocation created by the modern world, while still conforming to the theories of good health advocating physical exercise and fresh air.

 

In pain

In allowing themselves to deviate from the classical norms, artists opened up new possibilities for a more expressive representation of a body in the throes of torment or pain. The decline of the Academic nude and of classical restraint explains this predilection for ordeals: Ixion’s for example, condemned by Zeus to be bound to an eternally spinning wheel of fire.

The writhing body can also express torment of a more psychological nature. The pain experienced by the male body naturally relates to the issues of power between men and women in contemporary society: the naked body can be demeaning and, in certain circumstances, likely to call into question virility and male domination. In this respect, Louise Bourgeois’ choice of a male figure for her Arch of Hysteria was not a random one.

The martyr can, nevertheless, inspire compositions other than the tortured body: the death of Abel, killed by his brother Cain in the Book of Genesis, seems, on the contrary, to have inspired the pose of a totally relaxed body at the point of death. This abandon, however, conveyed a certain ambivalence that artists were determined to exploit: the body, often magnified and in state of morbid ecstasy, was in fact there for the spectator to relish. In these cases, suffering was merely a device to justify fetishising the body once again. In contrast with this seductive treatment, photographers engaged in experiments to divide the body into individual parts, in an aesthetic or even playful approach.

 

François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837) 'The Dying Saint Sebastian' 1789

 

François-Xavier Fabre (French, 1766-1837)
The Dying Saint Sebastian
1789
Oil on canvas
H. 196; W. 147cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération
© Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération – cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

 

Ángel_Zárraga-Votive_Offering_(Saint_Sebastian)-1912-WEB

 

Ángel Zárraga (Mexican, 1886-1946)
Votive Offering (Saint Sebastian)
1912
Oil on canvas
© Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico

 

 

The Glorious body

Judeo-Christian culture has undeniably influenced the representation of the naked man since the beginning of modern art. However, the Catholic concept of the body has been at variance with nudity since Paleochristian times: the body is merely the corporeal envelope from which the soul is freed on death. Influenced by theologians advocating the union of the sensory and the spiritual, nudity gradually became accepted for important figures such as Christ and Saint Sebastian. Their martyred bodies, transcended by suffering endured through faith, paradoxically allowed the human soul to come close to God.

For the Catholic church, the vulnerability of Christ’s body, subjected to suffering and bearing the stigmata, is evidence of his humanity, while his divinity is revealed in his inspired expression and his idealised body, a legacy of the underlying classical models. The figure of Saint Sebastian is especially complex: this popular saint, the epitome of the martyr who survives his first ordeal, embodies the victory of life over death. This life force is no doubt related to his youthful beauty and his naked body, both of which made their appearance in the 17th century. This being the case, his representation gradually moves away from Catholic dogma, and acquires an unprecedented freedom and life of its own: his sensuality is more and more obvious, whereas his suffering is at times impossible to detect. In this quest for sensual pleasure, and until the 20th century, the only taboo was to reveal the penis.

 

Paul Cadmus (1904-1999) 'The Bath' 1951

 

Paul Cadmus (American, 1904-1999)
The Bath
1951
Tempera on card
H. 36.4; W. 41.4cm
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art
Anonymous gift
© Whitney Museum of American Art, NY – Art
© Jon F. Anderson, Estate of Paul Cadmus / ADAGP, Paris 2013

 

Douche.-1932.-(Boris-Ignatovitch)-WEB

 

Boris Ignatovitch (Russian, 1899-1976)
Douche (Shower)
1932
Silver gelatin photograph

 

 

In Shower, a group of young athletes enjoys a therapeutic water massage; in the foreground is the back of a young man, whose stately figure takes up almost the entire frame. The masterful light and airiness of the image have a stunning aesthetic effect, illuminating the drops of water that are sprinkled across the spine and muscles of his tanned back. Aleksandr Deineka (1899-1969) was so captivated by the powerful composition of Shower that he recreated the scene in his painting After the Battle (1937-1942, below).

Text from the Nailya Alexander Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/01/2021

 

Aleksandr Deyneka (Russian, 1899-1969) 'After the Battle' 1937-1942

 

Aleksandr Deyneka (Russian, 1899-1969)
After the Battle
1937-1942
Oil on canvas
Kursk State Art Gallery

 

 

This painting was inspired by a photograph by legendary Soviet photographer Boris Ignatovich that he had presented to Deyneka (above). The artist thought the composition with an athlete in the foreground was perfection itself. However, he had difficulty transferring it to the canvas, and the painting took five years to complete. Deyneka finished it at the height of World War II, which is why the athletes in the title had turned into soldiers.

Anonymous text from the Russia Beyond website December 2019 [Online] Cited 10/01/2021

 

“This male homoeroticism maintains close ties with the revolutionary project to destroy the family and traditional marriage and the construction of new types of social relations based on collective values ​​above all, with the idea that the bonds of friendship and camaraderie between men (homosociality, “male bonding”) are equally or more important than heterosexual bonding. It is mainly in the period from the Revolution to the 1930s the values ​​of friendship and camaraderie seem particularly highlighted the detriment of the bonds of love, very devalued as “petty-bourgeois”, but even more later, with the Stalinist project of “restoration” of the family, it can be assumed that the emotional and romantic in the heterosexual couple have never been a pervasive and rewarding cultural representation of magnitude of that which may be known in the West. [11] The researcher Lilya Kaganovsky, analysing the Soviet visual culture (especially cult films of the 1930s and 1940s), speaks of “heterosexual panic” in response to the concept of “homosexual panic” coined by Eve K. Segdwick: according Kaganovsky, Soviet cultural works largely reflects the idea that the relations of friendship, especially homosocial, particularly between men, is a moral value than heterosexual relationships. [12] In such a cosmology, heterosexual relationships could be perceived from within oneself and risk jeopardising the homosocial relationships of camaraderie and friendship, and the same social and national cohesion, thought to be based on collective values that conflicts with the value of exclusivity in the couple, “cozy comforts of home” [13].”

Mona. “Représenter le corps socialiste : l’exemple du peintre A. Deïneka (1899-1969),” on the Genre, politique et sexualités website, 16th April 2012 (translation by Google translate). No longer available online

 

 

The Temptation of the male

An acknowledged desire for the male body, and the liberalisation of social conventions gave rise to some daring works from the mid 20th century onwards. In the United States, in spite of its puritan outlook since the Second World War, Paul Cadmus did not balk at depicting a pick up scene between men in a most unlikely Finistère. While the physical attraction of the body remained confined for a long time to the secrecy of private interiors, it was increasingly evident in public, in exclusively masculine social situations like communal showers or in the guise of a reconstructed Platonic Antiquity.

Eroticism is even presented quite crudely by Cocteau, whose influence on the young Warhol is undeniable. Beauty and seduction part company when the ideal transmitted by references to the past takes root in idiosyncratic practices and contemporary culture, as Hockney has expressed so accurately in his painting.

 

Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824) 'The Sleep of Endymion' 1791

 

Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, 1767-1824)
The Sleep of Endymion
1791
Oil on canvas
H. 90; W. 117.5cm
Montargis, Musée Girodet
© Cliché J. Faujour/musée Girodet, Montargis

 

Pierre et Gilles (born respectively in 1950 and 1953) 'Mercury' 2001

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy, b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Mercury
2001
© Pierre et Gilles

 

 

The Object of desire

For many years, the male body in art had been the subject of “objectification”. The unrestrained admiration for the perfection of the Greco-Roman nudes, a purely intellectual reconstruction of a body that had become the canon of beauty, meant that no interpretation of the nude was considered improper, even Winckelmann’s, with its powerful erotic charge.

Although Academic circles naturally encouraged the nude in great history paintings, certain subjects retained elements of sensuality and ambiguity. At the turn of the 19th century, discussion of the characteristics of the two sexes and their respective boundaries aroused interest in the bisexual amours of Jupiter and Apollo, while the formula of the young hero dying in the arms of his male lover was met with particular interest.

Girodet’s Endymion is depicted as an ephebe, his body caressed sensuously by the rays of the moon goddess, inspiring numerous homoerotic interpretations. With the Symbolists, as with Gustave Moreau, the difference between the sexes results in the downfall of a vulnerable man overcome by an inexorable and destructive force that is seen as feminine. However, at the other extreme, and in a less dramatic way, Hodler depicts the awakening of adolescent love between a self-obsessed young man and a girl who is captivated by his charm.

The sensuality and acknowledged eroticisation considered to be appropriate to the female body during the 19th century struck a serious blow against the traditional virility of the male nude: this blow was not fatal however, as the male nude was still very visible in the 20th century. Sexual liberation expressed, loud and clear, a feeling of voluptuousness and, often with few reservations, endowed the male body with a sexual charge. The model was usually identified, an assertive sign as a statement of the individuality: with Pierre and Gilles, where mythology and the contemporary portrait become one.

Text from the Musée d’Orsay website

 

Antonin Mercié. 'David' 1872

 

Antonin Mercié (French, 1845-1916)
David
1872
Bronze
© Musée d’Orsay, Paris

 

David LaChapelle. 'Eminem - About to Blow' 1999

 

David LaChapelle (American, b. 1963)
Eminem – About to Blow
1999
Chromogenic Print

 

Giorgio de Chirico (1883-1966) 'Les bains mystérieux' (Mysterious Baths) c. 1934-36

 

Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1883-1966)
Les bains mystérieux (Mysterious Baths)
c. 1934-36
Tempera on card
39 x 31cm
© Musei Civici Fiorentini – Raccolta Alberto Della Ragione

 

Egon Schiele. 'Self-Portrait, Kneeling' 1910

 

Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918)
Self-Portrait, Kneeling
1910
© Leopold Museum / Manfred Thumberger

 

Henri-Camille-Danger.-Fléau!,-1901. Paris, musée d'Orsay-WEB

 

Henri Camille Danger (French, 1857-1937)
Fléau! (Scourge!)
1901
© Musée d’Orsay, Paris

 

Koloman Moser. 'Le Printemps' (Spring) c. 1900

 

Koloman Moser (Austrian, 1868-1918)
Le Printemps (Spring)
c. 1900

 

Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) 'Grand Guerrier avec Jambe' 1893-1902

 

Antoine Bourdelle (French, 1861-1929)
Grand Guerrier avec Jambe
1893-1902
Bronze

 

George Platt Lynes. 'Le Somnambule (The Sleepwalker)' 1935

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Le Somnambule (The Sleepwalker)
1935
Gelatin silver print
© Christoph Irrgang, Hamburg

 

Lutteurs d'Alexandre. 'Falguière' 1875

 

Lutteurs d’Alexandre (French, 1851-1900)
Falguière
1875
Oil on canvas
H. 240; W. 191cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

 

 

From the 1870s, Alexandre Falguière worked simultaneously as a painter and sculptor. Wrestlers, which was his first large painting, caught the critics’ eye and won him a second-class medal at the Salon in 1875. The theme of modern wrestling, fashionable in the Romantic period, had enjoyed a revival in the 1850s. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the figure of the wrestler took on another meaning: his courage was held up as an example to develop the young citizens’ fighting spirit.

Critics were divided between those who scorned “the painting of a sculptor” and the larger group of those who recognised that Falguière had the talent of a true painter. The discussion also focused on the painting’s realism. Some commentators, who preferred the antique, slated the triviality of the theme, seeing nothing more than banal fairground wrestlers. Defenders of realism, on the other hand, enthused over the modernity of the subject and the lack of idealisation.

From 1876, Falguière nonetheless forsook modern subjects in his painting and turned to historical, mythological, literary or religious themes. If Castagnary is to be believed, the painting “was no more than a response to a dare by a painter faintly infatuated with himself and his talent.” Falguière perhaps produced The Wrestlers to prove that he was also a painter.

Text from the Musée d’Orsay website [Online] Cited 06/01/2021

 

Lucian Freud. 'Naked Man on Bed' 1989

 

Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011)
Naked Man on Bed
1989
Oil on canvas

 

Lucian Freud. 'David and Eli' 2004

 

Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011)
David and Eli
2004
Oil on canvas

 

 

Masculin / Masculin – La video on YouTube

 

 

Musée d’Orsay
62, rue de Lille
75343 Paris Cedex 07
France

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 9.30am – 6pm
Closed on Mondays

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02
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Laure Albin Guillot: The Question of Classicism’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 12th May 2013

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Estampe pour F. Marquis chocolatier-confiseur, Paris [Print for F. Marquis chocolate maker, Paris]' sans date (without date)

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Estampe pour F. Marquis chocolatier-confiseur, Paris (Print for F. Marquis chocolate maker, Paris)
Sans date (without date)
Collection particulière, Paris

 

 

The ravishing sensuality of the nudes make all the hours spent assembling this archive worthwhile!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Jue de Paume for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE AND FEMALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Étude publicitaire' sans date (without date)

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Étude publicitaire (Advertising study)
Sans date (without date)
Collection Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Ville de Chalon-sur-Saône

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Les tierces alternées, illustration pour les Préludes de Claude Debussy [The third alternative, illustration for Claude Debussy Preludes]' 1948

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Les tierces alternées, illustration pour les Préludes de Claude Debussy (The third alternative, illustration for Claude Debussy Preludes)
1948
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Publicité pour la pommade-vaccin Salantale' 1942

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Publicité pour la pommade-vaccin Salantale (Advertisement for Salantale ointment vaccine)
1942
Bibliothèque nationale de France

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Micrographie' 1929

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Micrographie
1929
Collection particulière, Paris
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Micrographie, bourgeon de Frêne (coupe)' 1930

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Micrographie, bourgeon de Frêne (coupe)
1930
Collection Société française de photographie
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Micrographie' 1929

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Micrographie
1929
Collections Roger-Viollet / Parisienne de Photographie
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

 

Laure Albin Guillot (Paris, 1879-1962), a “resounding name that should become famous”, one could read just after World War II. Indeed, the French photographic scene in the middle of the century was particularly marked by the signature and aura of this artist, who during her lifetime was certainly the most exhibited and recognised, not only for her talent and virtuosity but also for her professional engagement.

Organised in four parts, the exhibition, Laure Albin Guillot: The Question of Classicism allows one to discover her art of portraiture and the nude, her active role in the advertising world, her printed work and, at last, a significant gathering of her “micrographies décoratives”, stupefying photographs of microscopic preparations that made her renown in 1931. The exhibition presented at the Jeu de Paume gathers a significant collection of 200 original prints and books by Laure Albin Guillot, as well as magazines and documents of the period from public and private collections, such as the Parisienne de Photographie, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Musée Nicéphore Niépce (Chalon-sur-Saône) and the Musée Français de la Photographie (Bièvres).

A large number of the original prints and documents on show come from the collections of the Agence Roger-Viollet, which acquired Laure Albin Guillot’s studio stock in 1964. This archive, which now belongs to the City of Paris, recently became accessible after a long inventory process. Made up of 52,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, this source has made it possible to question the oeuvre and the place that the photographer really occupies in history. The photographer’s work could appear as a counter-current to the French artistic scene of the 1920s to 40s, whose modernity and avant-garde production attract our attention and appeal to current tastes. It is however this photography, incarnating classicism and a certain “French style” that was widely celebrated at the time.

If Laure Albin Guillot’s photography was undeniably in vogue between the wars, her personality remains an enigma. Paradoxically, very little research has been carried out into the work and career of this artist. Her first works were seen in the salons and publications of the early 1920s, but it was essentially during the 1930s and 40s that Laure Albin Guillot, artist, professional and institutional figure, dominated the photographic arena. As an independent photographer, she practised several genres, including portraiture, the nude, landscape, still life and, to a lesser degree, documentary photography. Technically unrivalled, she raised the practice to a certain elitism. A photographer of her epoch, she used the new means of distribution of the image to provide illustrations and advertising images for the press and publishing industry.

She was notably one of the first in France to consider the decorative use of photography through her formal research into the infinitely tiny. With photomicrography, which she renamed “micrographie”, Laure Albin Guillot thus offered new creative perspectives in the combination of art and science. Finally, as member of the Société des artistes décorateurs, the Société Française de Photographie, director of photographic archives for the Direction générale des Beaux-Arts (forerunner of the Ministry of Culture) and first curator of the Cinémathèque nationale, president of the Union Féminine des Carrières Libérales, she emerges as one of the most active personalities and most aware of the photographic and cultural stakes of the period.

Press release from the Jeu de Paume website

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Illustration pour 'Le Narcisse' de Paul Valéry' 1936

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Illustration pour ‘Le Narcisse’ de Paul Valéry
1936
Collection particulière, Paris
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Lucienne Boyer' 1935

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Lucienne Boyer
1935
Collections Roger-Viollet / Parisienne de Photographie
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Autoportrait' 1935

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Autoportrait
1935
Collection Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Ville de Chalon-sur-Saône
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Jean Cocteau' 1939

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Jean Cocteau
1939
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Hubert de Givenchy' 1948

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Hubert de Givenchy
1948
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Étude de nu' 1930s

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Étude de nu
1930s
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Étude de nu' 1939

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Étude de nu
1939
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Étude de nu' 1939

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Étude de nu
1939
Bibliothèque nationale de France.
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Nudite de Jeune Femme [Nude of a Young Woman]' c. 1950

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Nudite de Jeune Femme (Nude of a Young Woman)
c. 1950
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Étude de nu' 1935

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Étude de nu
1935
Collections Roger-Viollet / Parisienne de Photographie
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

 

Laure Albin Guillot. 'Sans titre [women with crossed legs on a plinth]' 1937

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
Sans titre [women with crossed legs on a plinth]
1937
Collection musée Nicéphore Niépce, Ville de Chalon-sur-Saône

 

 

Jeu de Paume
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75008 Paris
métro Concorde
Phone: 01 47 03 12 50

Opening hours:
Tuesday: 11am – 9pm
From Wednesday to Sunday: 11am – 7pm
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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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17
Apr
10

Exhibition: ‘Nude Visions. 150 Years of Nude Photography’ at Museum Fur Kunst und Gewerbe (MKG), Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 29th January – 25th April 2010

 

Many thankx to the MKG for allowing me to publish the photographs in this post. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Marcus

 

 

Jan Mutsu. 'Japanese Man with Tattoo' c. 1955

 

Jan Mutsu
Japanese Man with Tattoo
c. 1955
Gelatin silver print
20.2 x 25.7cm
Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

Gerhard Riebicke (German, 1878-1957) 'Couple Performing German Dance' c. 1930

 

Gerhard Riebicke (German, 1878-1957)
Couple Performing German Dance
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
11.6 x 16.2 cm
Bodo Niemann and Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

 

Gerhard Riebicke spent his childhood in Switzerland. He studied in Tübingen, worked as a tutor in Poznan, and appropriated the technique of self taught photographer. In 1909 he was a press photographer in Berlin. Gradually, his focus shifted to the sports and nudity culture photography (ball games, jumps, dance or bathing scenes).

As a friend of Adolf Koch, he documented his school for physical education and nude culture. As a chronicler of the reform movement, he also maintained contacts with the Laban School of Hertha Feist and other dance and gymnastics schools Hedwig Hagemann, Berte Trümpi and Mary Wigman. He was represented in Hans Surén’s “The Man and the Sun” in 1924. After 1933 he concentrated on sports photography.

Text translated from the German Wikipedia website

 

Josef Breitenbach (German-American, 1896-1984) 'Nude' from the series 'This beautiful landscape' 1963

 

Josef Breitenbach (German-American, 1896-1984)
Nude from the series This beautiful landscape
1963
Gelatin silver print
27.5 x 35.3cm
Breitenbach Trust USA and Munchner Stadtmuseum

 

T.W. Salomon (attributed) 'Female Nude in Armchair' c. 1935

 

T.W. Salomon (attributed)
Female Nude in Armchair
c. 1935
Gelatin silver print
27.5 x 27.4cm
Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

 

An exhibition with more than 250 original photos, books and folders with studies from the nude, including masterpieces from each period.

The representation of the unclothed human body has exuded a great fascination ever since time began. The exhibition Nude Visions invites visitors to embark on a journey through a collection of depictions of the human body spanning 150 years. More than 250 original photos, books and folders with studies from the nude will be on view, including masterpieces from each period: from photographs dating from the 19th century which seek their models in Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance, up to Surrealistic experiments and fashion and lifestyle photography. The exhibition illustrates changing ideals of beauty and moral perceptions, and reveals once again the constant attempt to balance between educational openness, titillation and curiosity.

“Without any doubt, there is nothing which draws the attention of the observer to it so much as the naked human body.” This comment of the journalist and photographer Kurt Freytag in1909 is as true today as it was then. The exhibition turns this fact to its advantage and deals with the historical, aesthetic and ideological development of images of the human body in photography. The show is divided into seven chapters devoted to the meaning and function of the unclothed human body in photography, and tracing the history of the medium: “Academies and Exotic Pictures in the 19th century,” “Art photography around 1900 (Pictorialism),” “Avant-gardes of the 20s and 30s,” “Artistic positions after 1945,” “Naturism,” “The Male Nude” and “Glamourous Nudes.” The first coloured Daguerreotypes of curvaceous ladies with blushing cheeks dating from 1855 meet the unflatteringly in-your-face and voyeuristic self-portrait of the photographer Frank Stürmer from 2004. These two photos mark the two ends of the spectrum covered by the exhibition, which illustrates the evolution of nude photography over sixteen decades by the example of more than 250 eminent works.

Nude photography is always, too, a process of negotiation between revealing and concealing. This exhibition makes clear the ambivalence of what is visible and what is unseen, of shame and curiosity, of legitimation and provocativeness. How nakedness is treated is closely bound up with the specific social context in which it occurs, the ideas of morality and the aesthetic ideal of an era. The motif of the nude is always influenced here both by the historical artistic tradition and reactions to contemporary impulses, which are interpreted by the photographer. Thus the movement for women’s emancipation, for instance, led to new ways of looking at both the female and the male body, as seen for example in the work of Herlinde Koelbl. Images which were still regarded as being scandalous at the beginning of the 20th century, triggering moral misgivings and controversy about a subject perceived as being delicate, would hardly bring a blush to the face of anyone living today. It is not only the motifs which have moved on, but also the reproducibility of the images and the extent of their media coverage impact on the awareness and significance of nakedness in society.

The origins of the history of nude photography lie in the so-called “academies,” which provided painters, graphic artists and sculptors with study objects in the 19th century and which followed the historical artistic models of Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance. Nude photography soon increasingly became emancipated from being a mere model for painting and sculpture, and developed artistic ambitions of its own: photographers discovered in the art of the fin de siècle, with its debt to Symbolism, the nude as a reflection of emotional states and yearnings. In the outgoing 19th century, with its bias towards the exact sciences, the human body served as an object for the study of movement, such as in the celebrated series shots by Eadweard Muybridge showing the sequence of motions in human movement.

Whereas historically staged scenes and compositions are still created in the sheltered environment of the atelier at the beginnings of photography, we find the first open-air nudes after 1870. Wilhelm von Gloeden, Guglielmo Plüschow and others took advantage of the light in the Mediterranean South to stage their visions of an earthly Arcadia. As a feature of the Lebensreform back-to-nature movement which gained ground from the turn of the century onwards, especially in Germany, nude photography became a torchbearer of the Naturist movement. The ornamentally arranged groupings of naked dancers which Gerhard Riebicke for example photographs, mainly in the German countryside, became a symbol for the liberation from the moral constraints of civilisation and industrialisation. The aesthetic of athletic bodies engaged in sporting activities or dancers in motion was taken up in the heroic physical ideal of the National Socialists and can later still be found in the cult of bodybuilding.

A new, more radical vision was developed by the Avant-garde movements after the 1920s, with their abstract and surrealistic experiments, such as the stories narrated in a play of light and shadow by František Drtikol or the deformed bodies in the works of Hans List. The theme of “glamour” plays a crucial role above all in fashion photography. That chapter poses the question as to what role is played in the debate on fashion by the way of showing the unclothed female body, by male desire and how perceptions change in the course of cultural history. Glamour can be seen in the erotic images from the Atelier Manassé, shown in soft focus, in Bert Stern’s portraits from the “last sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, up to and including Helmut Newton’s photos. In addition to these, selected works by amateurs as well as the male nude as an expression of gay emancipation will also be presented in pictures, particularly by Will McBride or Herbert Roettgen, who placed the representation of the naked male body in the focus of their work as an expression of their homosexuality, an emblem of their coming-out.

The depiction of the naked torso is shrouded in an aura of scandal and has always been a political bone of contention, whereby images of the bare human body send signals which differ according to their historical context: the photographic artists of the 1970s, working within the framework of body art and performance events, declared the directness of their own physical experience to be a political necessity. In retrospect, their work can be seen as a last desperate attempt to grapple with the vanishing concept of the subjective personality before the transition to the post-modern age. The private spaces of life too are meanwhile also illuminated in a quite different way than 25 years ago. The photographer Thomas Ruff deals in his works, which he imbues with a diffuse haziness by digital means, with the theme of the exhibitionism which can go as far as pornographic exposure of one’s own and others’ nakedness in internet forums. Nude Visions shows that the representation of the naked human body always also has something to do with the quest for insight into what human beings (and one’s own self) really are and what role they play in society.

Press release from the MKG website [Online] Cited 15/04/2010 no longer available online

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975) 'Arab Boy with Desert Candles' 1935

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975)
Arab Boy with Desert Candles
1935
Gelatin silver print
29.7 x 22.5cm
Herbert List-inheritance, Hamburg and Munchner Stadtmuseum

 

André Gelpke (German, b. 1947) 'Angelique, Salambo, St.Pauli/Hamburg' 1976

 

André Gelpke (German, b. 1947)
Angelique, Salambo, St.Pauli/Hamburg
1976
Gelatin silver print
32.6 x 22cm
André Gelpke and Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

Norbert Przybilla (1953-1996) 'Franz' 1986

 

Norbert Przybilla (1953-1996)
Franz
1986
Gelatin silver print
50 x 50 cm
Munchner Stadtmuseum

 

Bert Stern (American, 1929-2013) 'Marilyn Monroe' from the series 'The Last Sitting' 1962

 

Bert Stern (American, 1929-2013)
Marilyn Monroe from the series The Last Sitting
1962
C-print
48 x 48.1cm
Bert Stern

 

 

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Steintorplatz | 20099 Hamburg

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to Sundays 10 am – 6 pm
Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 am – 9 pm
Closed on Mondays

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg website

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26
Mar
09

Exhibition: ‘Francis Bacon’ at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Exhibition dates: 3rd February – 19th April 2009

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Triptych inspired by T.S. Eliot's 'Sweeney Agonistes'' 1967

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Triptych inspired by T.S. Eliot’s ‘Sweeney Agonistes’
1967
Oil on canvas
198 x 147.5cm (each)
Washington, D.C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1972

 

 

Looks like an amazing exhibition of Francis Bacon’s work, one of my favourite artists – I wish I could see it!

.
Many thankx to the Museo Nacional del Prado for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

The exhibition is constructed in different sections

  • Animal
  • Zone
  • Apprehension
  • Crucifixion
  • Crisis
  • Archive
  • Portrait
  • Memorial
  • Epic
  • Late

.
Bacon’s work demonstrates marked similarities to that of many of the Spanish artists he admired. (Manuela Mena, co-curator of the exhibition at the Prado, has written an excellent essay on this topic that can be found in the exhibition’s catalog.) The retrospective at the Prado provides a rare opportunity to compare Bacon to some of the Spanish masters that influenced him.

Start by meandering through the vast Bacon exhibition. Spread between two floors of the new wing of the Prado, the exhibition has brought together Bacon’s most important works from nearly his entire artistic production. It begins with the work that put Bacon on the map, “Three Studies for Figures at the Foot of a Crucifixion” (1944), and follows his work through the interpretations of Velázquez, crucifixion triptychs, his unique portraits and the late works through the years shortly before his death.

Text from the Prado website

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion' c. 1944

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
c. 1944
Oil on board
94 x 73.7cm
London, Tate, presented by Eric Hall 1953

 

 

Animal

A philosophical attitude to human nature first emerges in Francis Bacon’s works of the 1940s. They reflect his belief that, without God, humans are subject to the same natural urges of violence, lust and fear as any other animal. He showed Figure in a Landscape and Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion in April 1945, and exhibited consistently thereafter. The bestial depiction of the human figure was combined with specific references to recent history and especially the devastating events of the Second World War. Bacon often drew his inspiration from reproductions, acquiring a large collection of books, catalogues and magazines. He repeatedly studied key images in order to probe beneath the surface appearance captured in photographs. Early concerns that would persist throughout his work include the male nude, which reveals the frailty of the human figure, and the scream or cry that expresses repressed and violent anxieties. These works are among the first in which he sought to balance psychological insights with the physical identity of flesh and paint.

 

Francis Bacon. 'Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X' 1953

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X
1953
Oil on canvas
153 x 118cm
Des Moines, Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Arts Center, purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust

 

 

Zone

In his paintings from the early 1950s, Bacon engaged in complex experiments with pictorial space. He started to depict specific details in the backgrounds of these works and created a nuanced interaction between subject and setting. Figures are boxed into cage-like structures, delineated ‘space-frames’ and hexagonal ground planes, confining them within a tense psychological zone. In 1952 he described this as “opening up areas of feeling rather than merely an illustration of an object”. Through his technique of ‘shuttering’ with vertical lines of paint that merge the foreground and background, Bacon held the figure and the setting together within the picture surface, with neither taking precedence in what he called “an attempt to lift the image outside of its natural environment”.

A theme that emerged in the 1950s was the extended series of variants of Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1650 (Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilj), a work Bacon knew only from illustrations. He used this source to expose the insecurities of the powerful – represented most often in the scream of the caged figure. Through the open mouth Bacon exposed the tension between the interior space of the body and the spaces of its location, which is explored more explicitly in the vulnerability of the ape-like nudes.

 

Francis Bacon. 'Chimpanzee' 1955

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Chimpanzee
1955
Oil on canvas
152.5 x 117cm
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie

 

 

Apprehension

Implicit throughout Bacon’s work of the mid 1950s is a sense of dread pervading the brutality of everyday life. Not only a result of Cold War anxiety, this seems to have reflected a sense of menace at a personal level emanating from Bacon’s chaotic affair with Peter Lacy (who was prone to drunken violence) and the wider pressures associated with the continuing illegality of homosexuality. The Man in Blue series captures this atmosphere, concentrating on a single anonymous male figure in a dark suit sitting at a table or bar counter on a deep blue-black ground. Within their simple painted frames, these awkwardly posed figures appear pathetically isolated.

Bacon’s interest in situations that combine banality with acute apprehension was also evident in other contemporary works. From figures of anxious authority, his popes took on malevolent attributes and physical distortions that were directly echoed in the paintings of animals, whose actions are also both sinister and undignified. Some of these images derived from Bacon’s close scrutiny of the sequential photographs of animals and humans taken by Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), which he called “a dictionary” of the body in motion.

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Three Studies for a Crucifixion' 1962

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Three Studies for a Crucifixion
1962
Oil on canvas
198.2 x 144.8cm
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

 

 

Crucifixion

Bacon made paintings related to the Crucifixion at pivotal moments in his career, which is why these key works are gathered here. The paradox of an atheist choosing a subject laden with Christian significance was not lost on Bacon, but he claimed, “as a non-believer, it was just an act of man’s behaviour”. Here the instincts of brutality and fear combine with a deep fascination with the ritual of sacrifice. Bacon had already made a very individual crucifixion image in 1933 before returning to the subject with his break-through triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion in 1944. This is a key precursor to later themes and compositions, containing the bestial distortion of human figures within the triptych format. These monstrous creatures displace the traditional saints and Bacon later related them to the Eumenides – the vengeful furies in Greek mythology. In resuming the theme in the 1960s, especially in 1962 as the culmination of his first Tate exhibition, Bacon used references to Cimabue’s 1272-1274 Crucifixion to introduce a more explicitly violent vision. Speaking after completing the third triptych in 1965 he simply stated: “Well, of course, we are meat, we are potential carcasses”.

 

Francis Bacon. 'Paralytic Child Walking on All Fours (from Muybridge)' 1961

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Paralytic Child Walking on All Fours (from Muybridge)
1961
Oil on canvas
198 x 142cm
The Hague, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

 

 

Crisis

Between 1956 and 1961, Bacon travelled widely. He spent time in places marginal to the art world, in Monaco, the South of France and Africa, and particularly with Peter Lacy in the ex-patriot community in Tangier. In this rather unsettled context, he explored new methods of production, shifting to thicker paint, violently applied and so strong in colour as to indicate an engagement with the light of North Africa. This was most extreme in his series based on a self-portrait of Van Gogh, The Painter on the Road to Tarascon (1888, destroyed), which became an emblem of the modern predicament. Despite initial acclaim, Bacon’s Van Gogh works were soon criticised for their “reckless energy” and came to be viewed as an aberration. They can now be recognised as pivotal to Bacon’s further development, however, and allow glimpses into his search for new ways of working. His innovations were perhaps in response to American Abstract Expressionism, of which he was publicly critical. Although he eventually returned to a more controlled approach to painting, the introduction of chance and the new vibrancy of colour at this moment would remain through out his career.

 

Montage of material from Bacon's Studio

 

Montage of material from Bacon’s Studio (including pictures of Velázquez’s Innocent X, The Thinker by Rodin etc.)
7 Cromwell Place
c. 1950
© Sam Hunter

 

 

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The posthumous investigation of Bacon’s studio confirmed the extent to which he used and manipulated photographic imagery. This practice was already known from montages recorded in 1950 by the critic Sam Hunter. Often united by a theme of violence, the material ranges between images of conflict, big game, athletes, film stills and works of art.

An important revelation that followed the artist’s death was the discovery of lists of potential subjects and preparatory drawings, which Bacon had denied making. Throughout his life, he asserted the spontaneous nature of his work, but these materials reveal that chance was underpinned by planning.

Photography offered Bacon a dictionary of poses. Though he most frequently referred to Eadweard Muybridge’s (1830-1904) survey of human and animal locomotion, images of which he combined with the figures of Michelangelo, he remained alert to photographs of the body in a variety of positions.

A further extension of Bacon’s preparatory practices can be seen in his commissioning of photographs of his circle of friends from the photographer John Deakin (1912-1972). The results – together with self-portraits, photo booth strips, and his own photographs – became important prompts in his shift from generic representations of the human body to portrayals of specific individuals.

 

A matrix of images

Bacon’s use of photographic sources has been known since 1950 when the critic Sam Hunter took three photographs of material he had selected from a table in Bacon’s studio in Cromwell Place, South Kensington. Hunter observed that the diverse imagery was linked by violence, and this fascination continued throughout Bacon’s life. Images of Nazis and the North African wars of the 1950s were prominent in his large collection of sources. Films stills and reproductions of works of art, including Bacon’s own, were also common. The dismantling of Bacon’s later studio, nearby at Reece Mews, after his death confirmed that the amassing of photographic material had remained an obsession. While some images were used to generate paintings, he also seems to have collected such an archive for its own sake.

 

The mediated image

From the 1960s, Bacon’s accumulation of chance images began to include a more deliberate strategy of using photographs of his close circle. They became key images for the development of the portraits that dominated his paintings at this time. Snap shots and photo booth strips were augmented by the unflinching photographs taken by his friend John Deakin. Bacon specifically commissioned some of these from Deakin as records of those close to him – notably his partner from 1962, George Dyer – and they served as sources for likenesses and for poses for the rest of his career.

 

The Physical Body

Bacon drew more from Eadweard Muybridge’s sequential photographs of human and animal locomotion than from any other source. These isolated the naked figure in a way he clearly found stimulating. He also, however, spoke of projecting on to them Michelangelo’s figures which for him had more “ampleness” and “grandeur of form”.

His fascination in photography’s freezing of the body in motion led him to collect sports photographs, particularly boxing, cricket and bullfighting. It was not just movement but the physicality of the body that Bacon scrutinised, using found images to provoke new ways of picturing its strength and vulnerability.

 

Francis Bacon. 'Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho' 1967

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho
1967
Oil on canvas
198 x 147.5cm
Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

 

 

Portrait

During the 1960s, the larger part of Bacon’s work shifted focus to portraits and paintings of his close friends. These works centre on two broad concerns: the portrayal of the human condition and the struggle to reinvent portraiture. Bacon drew upon the lessons of Van Gogh and Velázquez, but attempted to rework their projects for a post-photographic world. His approach was to distort appearance in order to reach a deeper truth about his subjects. To this end, Bacon’s models can be seen performing different roles. In the Lying Figures series, Henrietta Moraes is naked and exposed. This unprecedented raw sexuality reinforces Bacon’s understanding of the human body simply as meat. By contrast Isabel Rawsthorne, a fellow painter, always appears in control of how she is presented. With a mixture of contempt and affection, Bacon depicted George Dyer, his lover and most frequent model, as fragile and pathetic. This is especially evident in Dyer’s first appearance in Bacon’s work, in Three Figures in a Room, in which he represents the absurdities, indignities and pathos of human existence. Everyday objects occasionally feature in these works, hollow props for lonely individuals which reinforce the sense of isolation that Bacon associated with the human condition.

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Triptych - August 1972' 1972

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Triptych – August 1972
1972
Oil on canvas
198 x 147.5cm
London, Tate

 

 

Memorial

This room is dedicated to George Dyer who was Bacon’s most important and constant companion and model from the autumn of 1963. He committed suicide on 24 October 1971, two days before the opening of Bacon’s major exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. Influenced by loss and guilt, the painter made a number of pictures in memorial to Dyer. From this period onwards the large-scale triptych was his established means for major statements, having the advantage of simultaneously isolating and juxtaposing the participating figures, as well as guarding against narrative qualities that Bacon strove to avoid. But while evading narrative, Bacon drew more than ever from literary imagery; the first of the sequence, Triptych In Memory of George Dyer 1971, refers to a specific section of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922). In addition to his own memory, for Triptych – August 1972 Bacon relied on photographs, taken by John Deakin, of Dyer in various poses on a chair. He confined his dense and energetic application of paint to the figures in these works. The dark openings consciously evoke the abyss of mortality that would become a recurring concern in Bacon’s later works.

 

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) 'Triptych' 1987

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Triptych
1987
Oil on canvas
198 x 147.5cm
London, The Estate of Francis Bacon, courtesy Faggionato Fine Art

 

 

Epic

References to poetry and drama became a central element in Bacon’s work from the second half of the 1960s. Alongside images of friends and single figures (often self-portraits), he produced a series of grand works that identified with great literature. Imbued with the inevitability and constant presence of death, the poetry of T.S. Eliot was a particular source of inspiration. The sentiments of the poet’s character Sweeney could be said to echo the painter’s perspective on life:

Birth, and copulation, and death.

That’s all the facts when you come to

brass tacks:

Birth, and copulation, and death.

The works in this room refer to and derive from literature. Some make direct references in their titles, others depict, sometimes abstractly, a certain scene or atmosphere within the narratives themselves. Bacon repeatedly stated that none of his paintings were intended as narratives, so rather than illustrations, these works should perhaps be understood as evoking the experience of reading of Eliot’s poetry or Aeschylus’s tragedies: their violence, threat or erotic charge. Thus, of the triptych created after reading Aeschylus, Bacon explained “I tried to create images of the sensations that some of the episodes created inside me”.

 

Francis Bacon. 'Portrait of John Edwards' 1988

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Portrait of John Edwards
1988
Oil on canvas
198 x 147.5cm
The Estate of Francis Bacon, courtesy of Faggionato Fine Arts, London, and Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

 

 

Late

When Bacon turned seventy in 1979, more than a decade of work lay ahead of him. Neither his legendarily hedonistic lifestyle nor his work pattern seemed to age him, but he was continually facing up to mortality through the deaths of those around him. This unswerving confrontation, however mitigated by youthful companions such as John Edwards, became the great theme of his late style. Constantly stimulated by new source material – for example the photographs and the poetry of Federico García Lorca which triggered his bullfight paintings – he was able to adapt them to his abiding concerns with the vulnerability of flesh. Exploring new techniques he also extended his fascination with how appropriate oil paint is for rendering the human body’s sensuality and sensitivity. A certain despairing energy may also be felt in the forceful throwing of paint that dominates some of these final works: the controlled chance as a defiant gesture. Ultimately, and appropriately, Bacon’s last triptych of 1991 returns to the key image of sexual struggle that had frequently recurred in his work. He faced death with a defiant concentration on the exquisiteness of the lived moment.

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992) 'Three Studies for Self-Portrait' 1979-1980

 

Francis Bacon (British, 1909-1992)
Three Studies for Self-Portrait
1979-1980
Oil on canvas
37.5 x 31.8cm
Nueva York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacques and Natasha Gelman collection, 1998

 

 

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon is internationally acknowledged as among the most powerful painters of the twentieth century. His vision of the world was unflinching and entirely individual, encompassing images of sensuality and brutality, both immediate and timeless. When he first emerged to public recognition, in the aftermath of the Second World War, his paintings were greeted with horror. Shock has since been joined by a wide appreciation of Bacon’s ability to expose humanity’s frailties and drives.

This major retrospective gathers many of his most remarkable paintings and is arranged broadly chronologically. Bacon’s vision of the world has had a profound impact. It is born of a direct engagement that his paintings demand of each of us, so that, as he famously claimed, the “paint comes across directly onto the nervous system”.

As an atheist, Bacon sought to express what it was to live in a world without God or afterlife. By setting sensual abandon and physical compulsion against hopelessness and irrationality, he showed the human as simply another animal. As a response to the challenge that photography posed for painting, he developed a unique realism which could convey more about the state of existence than photography’s representation of the perceived world. In an era dominated by abstract art, he amassed and drew upon a vast array of visual imagery, including past art, photography and film. These artistic and philosophical concerns run like a spine through the present exhibition.

 

 

Museo Nacional Del Prado
Paseo del Prado, s/n,
28014 Madrid, Spain

Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm
Sunday 10am – 7pm

Museo Nacional del Prado 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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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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