Homoerotica has a long, long history. For many years gone by, a lot of women, and a lot of men too, have looked at, studied and lusted after the male form. These days we look at eroticised photographs, we surf the web, we can look at the art of Tom of Finland. In long centuries ago, eroticised paintings of the male, in Biblical and mythological scenarios, were the only images available to the viewer of the male form.
Perhaps the male form has always been fetishised -- whether the viewer has a predilection for the male erection, shoulders, groins, pectorals, abdomens, buttocks or all of the above, painters have delivered. They painted the stories that they knew, the stories that they had been told -- tales from Greek and Roman mythology and tales from the Bible.
The pleasure is for the viewer -- a male in the prime of his life -- muscles and limbs, stretched out, on display.
Caravaggio. The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was the most famous painter in early 17th century Rome. His chiaroscuro work has been credited with the birth of Baroque. However, despite numerous famous works, speculation over Caravaggio's sexuality began with the commission of a few paintings for an influential Roman patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. Some historians see these paintings as "homoerotic" indications of Caravaggio's sexuality, while others say they merely reflect the tastes of his patron at the time. Caravaggio's short temper contributed to his short fame and life before the question of his sexuality could be answered.”
Although no conclusive evidence of Caravaggio's sexuality has survived, derogatory accusations made by contemporaries, coupled with the aggressive representation of male eroticism in his paintings, suggest that the most original painter of early seventeenth-century Europe was actively bisexual, if not primarily homosexual.
A poet of dramatic stimulation, Caravaggio was fascinated by the intrusion of the divine into the mundane world; in canvas after canvas he used shifting planes of light and dark to fashion a moment of spiritual anagnorisis, that moment of perception that precipitates the reversal of the action in Greek drama.
CORNELIS VAN HAARLEM Massacre of the Innocents
The story of the Massacre of the Innocents is found in the Bible. After the birth of Jesus, KingHerod heard that a new king of the Jews had been born in Bethlehem. Having no way to recognise the child, he ordered his soldiers to kill all the boys in Bethlehem younger than two. Meanwhile, Mary andJoseph had already fled with the baby Jesus to Egypt. They remained there until after the death of Herod. In 1590 Cornelis van Haarlem painted a blood-curdling picture of the Massacre of the Innocents. The subject had never before been tackled on so large and ambitious a scale.
BOUGUEREAU The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“To fully appreciate the art of Bouguereau one must profess a deep respect for the discipline of drawing and the craft of traditional picture-making; one must likewise submit to the mystery of illusion as one of painting's most characteristic and sublime powers. Bouguereau's vast repertory of playful and poetic images cannot help but appeal to those who are fascinated with nature's appearances and with the celebration of human sentiment frankly and unabashedly expressed.
But it remains to understand, given Bouguereau's in many ways unique style, exactly what the artist was trying to represent. Although Bouguereau has been classified by many writers as a Realist painter, because of the apparent photographic nature of his illusions, the painter otherwise has little in common with other artists belonging to the Realist movement.”
From William Bouguereau at Work, by Mark Steven Walker
“William-Adolphe Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle, France on November 30, 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. He seemed destined to join the family business but for the intervention of his uncle Eugène, a Roman Catholic priest, who taught him classical and Biblical subjects, and arranged for Bouguereau to go to high school. He showed artistic talent early on. His father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, where he won first prize in figure painting for a depiction of Saint Roch. To earn extra money, he designed labels for jams and preserves.
Bouguereau employed traditional methods of working up a painting, including detailed pencil studies and oil sketches, and his careful method resulted in a pleasing and accurate rendering of the human form. His painting of skin, hands, and feet was particularly admired. He also used some of the religious and erotic symbolism of the Old Masters, such as the “broken pitcher” which connoted lost innocence.”
THE SWIMMING HOLE Thomas Eakins.
“The Swimming Hole (also known as Swimming and The Old Swimming Hole) is an 1884–85 painting by the American artist Thomas Eakins (1844–1916), Goodrich catalog #190, in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum inFort Worth, Texas. Executed in oil on canvas, it depicts six men swimming naked in a lake, and is considered a masterpiece of American painting. According to art historian Doreen Bolger it is "perhaps Eakins' most accomplished rendition of the nude figure", and has been called "the most finely designed of all his outdoor pictures". Since theRenaissance, the human body has been considered both the basis of artists' training and the most challenging subject to depict in art, and the nude was the centerpiece of Eakins' teaching program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. For Eakins, this picture was an opportunity to display his mastery of the human form.
“In this work, Eakins took advantage of an exception to the generally prudish Victorian attitude to nudity: swimming naked was widely accepted, and for males was seen as normal, even in public spaces. Eakins was the first American artist to portray one of the few occasions in 19th century life when nudity was on display. The Swimming Hole develops themes raised in his earlier work, in particular his treatment of buttocks and his ambiguous treatment of the human form; in some cases it is uncertain as to whether the forms portrayed are male or female. Although the theme of male bathers was familiar in Western art, having been explored by artists from Michelangelo to Daumier, Eakins' treatment was novel in American art at the time. The Swimming Hole has been "widely cited as a prime example of homoeroticism in American art".
“In 2008, the art critic Tom Lubbock described Eakins' work as:
‘a classic of American painting. It shows a scene of healthy, manly, outdoor activity: a group of young fellows having stripped off for a dip. It is based on the swimming excursions that were enjoyed by the artist and his students. Eakins himself appears in the water at bottom right – in signature position, so to speak.’”
“Touko Laaksonen, best known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland (8 May 1920 – 7 November 1991) was a Finnish artist notable for his stylised androerotic and fetish art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. He has been called the "most influential creator of gay pornographic images" by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade.
Over the course of four decades he produced some 3500 illustrations, mostly featuring men with exaggerated primary and secondary sex traits: heavily muscled torsos, limbs, and buttocks, and large penises. Tight or partially removed clothing showed off these traits, with the penis often visible as a bulge in tight trousers or prominently displayed for the viewer. His drawings frequently feature two or more men either immediately preceding or during explicit sexual activity. Nearly all of his characters were versatile and obviously enjoyed the bottom as well as the top role in sexual intercourse.”
I am unable to post any images from Tom of Finland. The images are protected by tight copyright laws. But here is a video which features much of his work.
Friday, 17 February 2012
"In this gritty thriller, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack, Being John Malkovich) joins forces with a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans, Immortals) to hunt down a mad serial killer who's using Poe's own works as the basis in a string of brutal murders. Directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin), the film also stars Alice Eve (Sex and the City 2), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster). When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper--part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe. But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe's writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage, Fields enlists the author's help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer's next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of the detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it's too late."
The Raven (In Cinemas March 9, 2012)
Thanks to my friend Jan Vander Laenan. who told me about this soon to be released film.
“‘The Raven’ is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in January 1845. It is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow descent into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word "Nevermore". The poem makes use of a number of folkand classical references.
The Raven. Edouard Manet. 1875
Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay "The Philosophy of Composition". The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe borrows the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett'spoem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship", and makes use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.
"The Raven" was first attributed to Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime, although it did not bring him much financial success. Soon reprinted, parodied, and illustrated, critical opinion is divided as to the poem's status, but it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.”
The Raven. Gustave Doré. 1884
It is a poem, a lament, telling of loss, isolation, and loneliness. The opening lines identify the speaker as someone who feels tired and weak but is still awake in the middle of a gloomy night. He passes the time by reading a strange book of ancient knowledge. Poe uses alliteration to convey the effect of unsteadiness. This line also sets the poem's rhythmical pattern and provides the first example of the use of internal rhyme in "dreary" and "weary."
The speaker tells of becoming more tired and beginning to doze but being wakened by a sound that he assumes is a quiet knock. Internal rhymes of "napping," "tapping," and "rapping" along with repetition of these last two words, create a musical effect. This effect is also produced by alliteration of n. These sound devices and the steady rhythm of these lines are almost hypnotic. The Raven speaks only one word: “nevermore.” This word punctuates the poem. Each time the speaker asks a question, the strange bird repeats the word “nevermore”.
The Raven. John Tenniel 1858
Near the end of this poem, when the fear of the poem's speaker has reached a level of near hysteria, he shouts "Leave my loneliness unbroken!" In one sense, this could just be an emotional outburst, like the lines that lead up to it, but the interesting thing about this particular line is that the speaker, in his terror, is for once reflecting upon himself. This, and the line's location at the climax of the poem, indicates to us that "my loneliness" is not just another expression that he shrieks: it is the key, the secret that he has been trying to guard all along. Throughout the poem, we see the speaker being drawn out of his isolation by the raven and the one word that it speaks. Once the bird enters his chambers, nothing really changes in the scene except the speaker's attitude, which grows
The Raven. Gustave Doré. The final lines of the poem.
I am excited by the possibilities that the film “The Raven” offers. I cannot imagine that many people viewing the film will have read Poe’s great poem. I am not being patronising: sadly, we live in a world where people do not read books, let alone the classics and poetry even less. The possibilities are that the viewer of the film, may try reading Poe’s poem and from there, turn to Poe’s body of work where there is real mystery, and a haunting despair. Poe explicitly states that he intended “the Raven” to be accessible to both the mainstream and high literary worlds.
It is unknown how long Poe worked on "The Raven"; speculation ranges from a single day to ten years.
“In part due to its dual printing, "The Raven" made Edgar Allan Poe a household name almost immediately and turned Poe into a national celebrity. Readers began to identify poem with poet, earning Poe the nickname "The Raven". The poem was soon widely reprinted, imitated, and parodied. Though it made Poe popular in his day, it did not bring him significant financial success. As he later lamented, ‘have made no money. I am as poor now as ever I was in my life – except in hope, which is by no means bankable.’
“The New World said, "Everyone reads the Poem and praises it ... justly, we think, for it seems to us full of originality and power." The Pennsylvania Inquirer reprinted it with the heading "A Beautiful Poem". Elizabeth Barrett wrote to Poe, "Your 'Raven' has produced a sensation, a fit o' horror, here in England. Some of my friends are taken by the fear of it and some by the music. I hear of persons haunted by 'Nevermore'."
“Poe's popularity resulted in invitations to recite "The Raven" and to lecture – in public and at private social gatherings. At one literary salon, a guest noted, "to hear [Poe] repeat the Raven ... is an event in one's life." It was recalled by someone who experienced it, "He would turn down the lamps till the room was almost dark, then standing in the center of the apartment he would recite ... in the most melodious of voices ... So marvelus was his power as a reader that the auditors would be afraid to draw breath lest the enchanted spell be broken.
“‘The Raven’ has influenced many modern works, including Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1955, Bernard Malamud's "The Jewbird" in 1963 and Ray Bradbury's "The Parrot Who Knew Papa" in 1976. The poem is additionally referenced throughout popular culture in films, television, music and more.”
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Friday, 10 February 2012
I watch the Crime and Investigation channel a lot. I guess it is my way of keeping in touch with the wider world, often a world I know nothing about. Oh, I watch the news and I am alert as to what is going on in the Middle East and the Far East. I watched events unfolding in the “Arab Spring”, starting with the suicide of one disenfranchised man, in Tunisia, moving across the Arab world to Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi was killed and into Syria, where once again the abuse of human rights were highlighted. I pretty much keep in touch with what is going on in my own country.
I listen to politicians talking about “The War on Terror”.
But it is the little human tales that get to me. I watched one unfold the other night, on CI. The tale of a Canadian woman, Louise Gallagher.
“What do you do when your charming knight on a white horse turns out to be Satan in a tuxedo?
“Louise Gallagher of Calgary wasn’t even looking for a relationship. A 45-year-old partner in a corporate communications firm, she was a busy professional raising two teenage daughters when a charming, impeccably dressed man walked into her office and into her life. "Have we met before?" asked Louise, smiling and extending her hand to this potential new client. Locking eyes with hers, he gave a butter-smooth reply: "If we had met before, I’d never have let you go."
“Louise didn't fall for the corny line. But he was compelling and magnetic nonetheless, and eventually she began a relationship with this man, who turned out to be a master of deception. Over the next four years Louise would be conned out of her home, her car, her job – the losses totalling $250,000 – and even her daughters.
“At this point you are probably thinking, 'That could never happen to me'. You’re too sharp to fall prey to a man posing as a romantic partner to dupe you into sex, con you out of money or take pleasure in watching you flail helplessly in his elaborately spun web of lies – aren’t you?
“In truth, we're all vulnerable to any manner of con.
“Louise Gallagher thought she was too savvy to fall for a pickup artist. But Peter (not his real name) was persistent. He sent massive bouquets of flowers to Louise's office. He gave her a beautifully framed photograph of herself at a business function. He called her twice a day. Finally she agreed to meet him for dinner. Peter, co-owner of a company that made replicas of exotic cars, oozed charisma. "He kept telling me I was so talented, so perfect," Louise says. "I pushed my intuition aside because I wanted to believe that someone thought I was amazing."
“Within two weeks Peter proposed. "Whoa! I’m not prepared to do that!" she replied. “That's when he told her about his life-threatening heart condition. Louise was sceptical, but over the next few weeks she noticed increasing "episodes" where he seemed to be short of breath. Then one day he called in a shaky voice to say he was in a California hospital on life support.
“Eventually Peter was arrested and convicted on unrelated charges of fraud, harassment and assault. But after violating his conditional sentence, he persuaded Louise to leave the province with him. Peter took her to Maple Ridge, B.C., where they hid out for three months before the RCMP tracked him down. He served time until August 2006, when he was released. His whereabouts today aren't known.
“Louise now realizes this master manipulator duped not only herself, but also another woman. Today, Louise has resumed her career and a normal family life. She's also dating again. But her financial losses total a staggering quarter-of-a-million dollars. At least she can say, "He has no hold over me anymore."
Extracts from Canadian Living
Romantic fraud is insidious because it breaches the most intimate kind of trust. Perpetrators are remorseless psychopaths who may fabricate an entirely fictitious persona, lying about their background, profession, income, health or marital status. They generally profess an all-consuming love for the ones they dupe that is entirely manufactured, leaving a trail of broken hearts and shattered lives. And it isn’t just women who are duped. I know of some dear sweet men who have been on the receiving end of this sort of vile behaviour too.
Friday, 3 February 2012
“I’m all for protecting the kids from seeing things they really shouldn’t be seeing, so I understand and agree with certain things not being shown on public television. But I also recognize that sometimes NOT getting shown on TV can actually be a huge benefit!
First of all, when marketers are free from the normal constraints of advertising sometimes they can come up with really “attractive” ads. And banned commercials are great examples of advertisements which obviously received excellent Return On Investment, based on the sheer number of online views each one received. Indeed, these are the most popular of all banned commercials.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy to have one of my ads viewed as many times as the worst performing of those featured here…”
The above image is an ad by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I was searching for it in his archives, but couldn't find it. It appeared in magazines around 1990. I wondered why there was no trace of it online -- had it been banned?
It features a giant woman in a body stocking, into which two rows of mammaries have been stitched. She is high on a pedestal. She is on all fours. She is powerful, a roar comes from her open mouth. She wears very dark glasses. Beneath her, are tiny, tiny men suckling from her many breasts.
I think that Jean- Paul is playing with the notion of the Fertility Goddess. She is powerful, more powerful than we could dream.
While searching, I came across some great "banned" stuff. Here are a few of the images.
And this one from Snidely Whiplash
For more banned advertisements click here.