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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

     
Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  

Breaking with conventions that effectively restricted nude male images to depictions of athletic, young, white men, many recent artists have sought to produce works of art that reflect the actual diversity and complexity of queer communities.

Such photographers as Australian Jamie Dunbar (for example, Posithiv Sex Happens, 1993) and Americans Mark I. Chester (for example, Robert Chesley--ks portrait, 1991), George Dureau (Wilbert Hines, 1983), Lyle Ashton Harris (Constructs, 1989), and Peter Hujar (Manny, undated) have devoted themselves to creating powerful nude images of men who would normally be excluded from representation because of their age, social class, HIV status, physical condition, and/or race.

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Numerous contemporary queer artists have exploited the nude figure to create provocative narratives, with great psychological and political resonance. For instance, Nigerian-born photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode conceived several transcultural series (Metaphysick: Every Moment Counts, 1991, among others) that synthesized Western conceptions of erotic art with Yoruba spiritual traditions.

The prominent Mexican artist Nahum Zenil has made his own nude body the primary subject of his work. In Dart Game (1994), Zenil depicts himself (in the pose of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, a symbol of Renaissance ideals) against a target with the colors of the Mexican flag; he thus reveals the dangers to which he willingly has subjected himself as a very outspoken proponent of gay rights.

Sunil Gupta (a Canadian citizen and United Kingdom resident, born in India) is among the many contemporary queer artists who have found inspiration in historical art. For example, in the photographic series No Solutions (1990), Gupta depicted himself and his British partner (in various stages of undress) in positions that are deliberately evocative of ancient Hindu erotic sculpture.

To reinforce the references to earlier Hindu work, Gupta paired each of his photographs with a popular Indian religious print. Displayed with captions taken from an Indian government proposal to ban sex between Indian citizens and foreigners, No Solutions raised a variety of urgent political, spiritual, and personal questions. This piece eloquently reveals the links between historical and contemporary queer culture, and it well exemplifies the vitality and complexity of recent images of the male nude.

Richard G. Mann

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  African-American and African Diaspora Art

Gay and lesbian artists of the African Diaspora have recently begun to explore issues specific to gender and sexuality; often relying on self-portraiture, they address homophobia and racism as well as desire and longing.

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:  American Art: Gay Male, Nineteenth Century

In nineteenth-century America men who loved other men often suffered from guilt, but artists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins celebrated male camaraderie and affection, while expatriate John Singer Sargent depicted the dandy, and photographs documented male friendships.

arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, American gay male art underwent a radical transformation as artists came out and began to treat gay themes openly and directly.

arts >> Overview:  Classical Art

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

arts >> Overview:  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male

Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Baroque

From about 1590 through the first decades of the eighteenth century, Baroque artists challenged the decorum of Renaissance art; but the period was also a time of intolerance and persecution.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Medieval

Ranging from depictions of acts "against nature" to representations of sexual ambiguity, queer medieval art may be richer than is generally recognized.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Nineteenth Century

Several artists and art critics of the nineteenth century achieved a self-aware homosexual identity that is expressed in both their lives and their works, but lesbianism is only rarely depicted in terms of identity during this period.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Renaissance

The various cultural patterns, especially the conditions of artistic production and the types of subjects and themes represented, provide a great deal of evidence about Renaissance sexuality and art.

arts >> Overview:  Indian Art

Not only is sexuality celebrated in Indian art, but many of India's gods also consider gender to be a fluid affair, sometimes manifesting as androgynes and sometimes switching gender altogether.

arts >> Overview:  Japanese Art

Japanese art, from the prehistoric period onward, features images that can be given queer readings as well as a wide range of representations that contemporary viewers would understand to be homosexual.

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:  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: Hercules

A complex and multivalent character, Hercules is an exemplary hero whose myths remind us that a supreme manifestation of virility and physicality can also encompass sexual deeds outside the heteronormative.

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.

social sciences >> Alexander the Great

One of the most fascinating men of all times, Alexander the Great was not only a great soldier and conqueror, he was also renowned for his love of Hephaestion.

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 >> Caravaggio

The most original painter of early seventeenth-century Europe, Caravaggio imbues his art with homoeroticism.

arts >> Darger, Henry

Now considered one of the most original artists of the last half of the twentieth century, Henry Darger died completely unknown in his native Chicago.

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 >> Donatello

The varied oeuvre of Renaissance sculptor Donatello includes figures of beautiful male youths imbued with homoerotic sensuality.

arts >> Dureau, George

New Orleans artist George Dureau is best known for his male figure studies and narrative paintings in oil and charcoal and for his black-and-white photographs, which often feature street youths, dwarfs, and amputees.

arts >> Dürer, Albrecht

One of the greatest graphic artists in history, Dürer elevated printmaking to the level of painting through his unprecedented use of line and value; his works frequently express sexual themes and homoeroticism.

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 >> Fani-Kayode, Rotimi

One of the most important black photographers of the late twentieth century, Rotimi Fani-Kayode explores important themes of racial and sexual identity.

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.

social sciences >> Hadrian

The love of the second-century Roman emperor Hadrian for the beautiful youth Antinous was exceptional not because the lovers were male, but because of its intensity.

arts >> Harter, J. B.

Mississippi-born artist and museum curator J. B. Harter drew and painted throughout his life, but only began showing his homoerotic work soon before he was murdered.

arts >> Hujar, Peter

Photographer Peter Hujar created stark, stunning, affecting , and sometimes disturbing images in black and white.

arts >> Jansson, Eugène Frederik

Eugène Jansson, sometimes described as Sweden's first gay artist, has only recently begun to receive the international attention that his accomplishments merit.

arts >> Leonard, Michael

Britain's leading photorealist painter, Michael Leonard is accomplished in a number of genres, but his dominant subject is the nude male.

arts >> Lynes, George Platt

American photographer George Platt Lynes made his fame as a fashion and portrait photographer, but his greatest work may have been his dance images and male nudes.

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 >> Il Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi)

Although his nickname may indicate nothing about his sexuality, Il Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi) painted a number of works that depict same-sex intimacy.

arts >> Solomon, Simeon

Known for his association with the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement, British artist Simeon Solomon created homoerotic works and suffered as a victim of late nineteenth-century English homophobia.

arts >> Subjects of the Visual Arts: Harmodius and Aristogeiton

Athenian lovers Harmodius and Aristogeiton were remembered in ancient Greece as the great tyrannicides and celebrated as lovers, patriots, and martyrs.

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.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.

arts >> Zenil, Nahum B.

Mexican artist Nahum Zenil has consistently acknowledged and utilized his identity as a gay man to define his artistic personality.


    Bibliography
   

Cooper, Emmanuel. Fully Exposed. The Male Nude in Photography. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.

_____. The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.

Davis, Whitney, ed. Gay and Lesbian Studies in Art History. New York: Harrington Park Press, 1994.

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

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Mann, Richard G.  
    Entry Title: Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated March 1, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/subjects_nude_male.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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