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arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male  
 
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The seemingly endless supply and increasing accessibility of gay pornography has dramatically altered the landscape in which gay artists work. Indeed, in postmodern style, it is not uncommon for gay artists to create a dialogue with the gay pornography industry by employing its aesthetic vocabulary in their own work.

Much as AIDS deeply impacted the public and private erotic lives of gay men in a diversity of ways, it also wrought a number of changes in visual expressions of homoeroticism. In the midst of great suffering, loss, and mainstream complacency, many gay artists directed their work toward activism and the public while others focused on personal lamentations of friends and lovers.

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Generally, the randy, sexually charged tone that characterized a good deal of homoerotic art in the decades before the 1980s was now greatly complicated by widely felt emotional turmoil around the consequences of sex between men. Loathe to accept that the emergence of AIDS meant the end of taking pleasure in male bodies or pictures of them, many artists adopted a meditative tone, trying to reconcile enthusiasm for gay sex with its new risks, necessary precautions, and various emotional entanglements.

Jason Goldman

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arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Prior to Stonewall, most gay artists were closeted, but they were inventive in creating codes for those in the know; after 1945 some adventurous artists developed independent networks for the distribution of works of gay art.

arts >> Overview:  Censorship in the Arts

Many gay and lesbian artists who have defied the legal and social prohibitions against explicit or sympathetic depictions of homosexuality have seen their art censored or suppressed.

arts >> Overview:  Classical Art

Ancient Greek and Roman art represents a variety of homoerotic experience in several different ways.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

Post-Stonewall gay male photography merits recognition for its contribution to fine art, documentation, photo-journalism, and advertising, as well as erotica.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall

Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.

arts >> Overview:  Pornographic Film and Video: Gay Male

Gay male pornographic film and video, which dates from the release of Wakefield Poole's The Boys in the Sand in 1971, has provided gay men an all-too-rare positive image of gay sexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Ganymede

Since antiquity Ganymede, the beautiful Phrygian youth abducted by Jupiter, has served as an artistic expression for homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males

Throughout much of history, the nude male figure was virtually the only subject that could be used to articulate homoerotic desire in publicly displayed works of art, as well as those works of art intended for private "consumption."

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: St. Sebastian

Sebastian's broad and long-standing presence in queer artistic production suggests that he functions as an emblem of the feelings of shame, rejection, inverted desire, and loneliness endured by queer people in a homophobic society.

arts >> Cadmus, Paul

American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.

arts >> Demuth, Charles

One of America's first modernist painters, Charles Demuth was also one of the earliest artists in this country to expose his gay identity through forthright, positive depictions of homosexual desire.

arts >> Eakins, Thomas

Although his personal sexual orientation is uncertain, American painter, photographer, and teacher Thomas Eakins is solidly aligned in the history of art with a homophile sensibility, as expressed particularly in his celebration of the male form.

arts >> Flandrin, Hippolyte

Nineteenth-century French artist Hippolyte Flandrin created studies of male youth that are richly homoerotic.

arts >> Gloeden, Wilhelm von, Baron

One of the earliest gay photographers of the male nude, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden created images that evoke a dreamy vision of forbidden desire, while also raising questions about sexual tourism and kitsch.

arts >> Mapplethorpe, Robert

American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial images typically combine rigorously formal composition and design with extreme subject matter.

arts >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

The most famous artist who ever lived, Michelangelo left an enormous legacy in sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and poetry; while the artist's sexual behavior cannot be documented, the homoerotic character of his drawings, letters, and poetry is unmistakable.

arts >> Quaintance, George

An influential figure in a unique American style of art, George Quaintance was a pioneer of male physique painting.

arts >> Roberts, Mel

In his 1960s and 1970s images of hikers, bikers, and surfers, photographer and activist Mel Roberts captured the spirit of the California Dream that lured thousands of gay men to the Golden State in search of freedom and opportunity after World War II.

arts >> Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen)

Defiantly rejecting the invisibility, homophobia, and indignities of pre-Stonewall life, the men in Tom of Finland's drawings reflect a hyper-masculine, working-class version of homosexual manhood that proved important to the emerging gay rights movement.


    Bibliography
   

Camille, Michael. "The Abject Gaze and the Homosexual Body: Flandrin's Figure d' Etude." Gay and Lesbian Studies in Art History. Whitney Davis, ed. Binghamton, N.Y.: Harrington Park Press, 1994. 161-188.

Chauncey, George. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Cooper, Emmanuel. The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Harris, Daniel. The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

Horne, Peter, and Reina Lewis, eds. Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities and Visual Cultures. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Waugh, Thomas. Hard to Imagine: Gay Male Eroticism in Photography and Film from Their Beginnings to Stonewall. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Weinberg, Jonathan. Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley and the First American Avant-Garde. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Goldman, Jason  
    Entry Title: Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 12, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/erotic_art_gay.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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