From HUFFPOST, by David Leddick
Do You Hate Homoerotic Art? Is It the Art, or Is It You?
Did you think homoeroticism in art was just a late-20th-century phenomenon, that artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, and many others were something new under the sun?
When the European publishing house Bruno Gmünder asked me to create a new book of art featuring male nudes, for my introduction I decided to search for surprising works by well-known artists of the past. My new book is called Gorgeous Gallery and features more graphic and edgy art than do any of my past collections. But now that the collection is finished and ready to be published, I got to thinking: is this art really that edgy, historically speaking?
Maybe it only feels like it pushes the limits here in America, because of so much political hoo-ha from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and their noisemakers, as they flood the airwaves trying to frighten us all. I don’t write political diatribes, but I am anti-prude.
If you follow my books and my blog, you know I am all about celebrating our new, 21st century — and rejecting those who want to pull us back into the past. I was born in 1930, and take it from me: we do not want to go back there. A lot of us over 65 don’t avoid sex as we get older. (I call our group the “sextennials.” Do you like my new term?) We don’t yearn for the past. If everyone else did the same, wouldn’t the world be better?
But are these “conservatives” really resisting a very modern trend, as they say they are? They should just forget it. We all might as well face it: homoerotic art did not break loose in the 20th century; it has been with us always, no matter how the art experts might choose to interpret it. Many in our society, and in the art world, do not like to admit that a work of art can be of a very high level and still be homoerotic — erotic, maybe, but homoerotic? Horrors! Sorry, we may be able to excuse those flat-fronted Egyptians, but all those Greek Eros representations created for centuries weren’t made to turn on the ladies.
Sure, fine art can come under the heading of pornography if your definition of pornography is “sexually arousing.” That’s hard to deal with in the ever-so-repressive United States. Now porn is something that comes in a plain wrapper and that, more and more, you search for on your computer. Well, pre-Internet, you used to find these things on the walls of famous museums (you still do) and in public statues. Are you going to try to tell me that Michelangelo’s “David” is not sexy in all that nakedness? Come on.
Since it is dawning on us that fine art can be sexy, and because we are in such a hyper-political frenzy, soon Republicans are bound to start demanding yet again that certain kinds of art be taken out of exhibits, claiming that the art is “offensive.” The Smithsonian in Washington went through this song and dance not too long ago, and it just made them look silly and out of it.
Homoerotic Art Through the Ages
Certainly way back when, the ancients knew that art could turn you on. Of course, they probably didn’t think of “fine art” and “popular art.” They probably didn’t even think of it as “art.” The statues of naked young men that must have been everywhere in public places were certainly to honor the beauty of these young men. And in addition to their beauty, they were also sexual. Beauty and sex operate in the same area and on the same plane. And certainly we know that Greek men much admired the beauty and sexiness of younger men. Their pottery reveals that fooling around was an essential part of their culture. The Greeks, and later the Romans, did not, of course, have our contemporary notion that there is something wrong with sex and that it is inextricably locked in with feeling guilty. The fact that they had all those athletic meets where men wandered about naked tells you that the public liked to take a look — the public that did not include any women, who were all at home. However, the female nude was equally displayed in public as statuary, and certainly for the very same reasons. Sex was in the air, and all the time.
Depicting hot guys went very much out of style with the fall of the Roman Empire and those dark, dark ages that pretty much lasted until the Renaissance. But when in the 1400s in Italy they began to dig up those sexy statues, art got a whole new head start. Artists not only copied the work of the past but sometimes imitated it and tried to pass it off as from the earlier time. Michelangelo was much inspired by the classic period, and anyone who has closely observed the Sistine Chapel can see that it is jammed with paintings of very hot guys (and the women look very much like men). Art historians excuse this by saying women were not available to pose nude. I wonder.
History seems to repeat itself, because after all those male nudes were on view, both in art and around town, suddenly the Catholic popes insisted that a lot of fig leaves be painted over the offending male regions. Some popes even sent off crusading mobs to chop off the winkies from sexy statues. But it is still obvious that these men were supposed to be sexy. They didn’t all have to have their clothes off. Anyone who has read the graphic novels of Teo Jodorowsky has seen that he imagines an affair between the pope of that period and Michelangelo, even depicting the two men in bed repeating the pose of God creating Adam with a touch of his finger.
When we move on to the period of Peter Paul Rubens, who painted a ton of work with the assistance of helpers, we see religious paintings still offering us homoerotic titillation. In his “The Enthroned Madonna Surrounded by Saints” there is a near-naked saint in the foreground being given some special attention by an admirer/persecutor in black armor. The saint seems to be relishing it. This kind of naked image was certainly to show off somebody with a great and sexy body. And again, I don’t think it was for the ladies of the time.
The French Revolution brought another burst of interest in naked men in paintings, harking back to the distant Greek past. The men who led the revolution loved being likened to those long-ago heroes. Painters like David and Girodet and Girard created a large number of works for public view with lots of naked guys. Girodet’s “Revolt in Cairo” has a central figure of a splendid, nude Egyptian guard defending his swooning leader, almost every square inch of his fabulous body on display. Most of the artists of that time were trained in Rome, and their training included much viewing of the male nude (which is rumored to have taken place in their homes quite often).
In the 1830s, during the Romantic period, the female nude came to occupy a much more Continue readingPin It
Shadows and silhouettes back-lit by the glare of sunlight. Add to the recipe masculine virility in the form of a young man. Poetry is the only word that can describe it. His name is John. He doesn’t profess to be a master of nude male photography, yet his photos almost suggest the opposite.
John is twenty-three, from a small town in Texas. He takes nude photographs of himself for a number of reasons. Sometimes something as simple as seeing himself in the mirror after a shower, or when he is feeling ‘frisky’, he might be in the mood to reach for his camera. Sometimes he just wants to send something sexy to his girlfriend.
Sexy is the key word. Considering the thoughtfulness behind his photography, I haven’t run across many 23 year old men quite this sexy. When they say “youth is lost on the young”, it doesn’t apply in John’s case. He knows how to enjoy his youth and his body, which means he knows how to enjoy life.
Given his sensitivity, his creativity and sense of adventure, John and his girlfriend must make a dynamic couple, especially if they have these qualities in common. Part of his world view includes an appreciation for the male body (like most of us, he is occasionally tempted to look at other men in the gym locker room). He says: “I think the male body is a sexy, well proportioned form. I absolutely appreciate the beauty and sensuality of the human body overall, and this appreciation is not limited to either the male or female body.”
I asked John if he likes public nudity such as nude beaches. He says he loves the idea of getting naked in public, especially exhibitionism. With a body like his, would that be exhibitionism or would it be a public treat?
So how much does John enjoy being nude? “I like to live my life nude when I am in private. Normal activities such as cooking, exercising and just lazing around all become so much more sexy and sensual when nude.”
John’s most compelling fantasy is having his girlfriend take control over him, using him as her own personal sex toy. They have discussed and plan to have her use some sex toys on him anally, a scenario that just might give the rest of us some ideas. Perhaps the picture above is the position he will be in when the time comes.
John loves his body, as he should. He works out daily and it shows. Such a magnificent Continue readingPin It
One man’s analytical adventure with nude self-photography.
I had no idea of what to expect when Alessio and I discussed doing this feature. I knew he was an attractive man, not at all uncommon for Italians. He told me he is going through a rather difficult period in his life that has affected his self-esteem. He believed by doing this piece, it would help reverse that. Then he sent his portfolio and blew me away. My first thought was: “How can a man as gorgeous as Alessio suffer a problem with self-esteem?”
Alessio just turned thirty-two. He’s straight, never had a doubt. With a long future ahead of him, he has learned one of life’s most heart-wrenching lessons. Into his second important relationship, he has learned you can be beautifully compatible with a woman sexually and have serious problems with the other elements of the relationship. Conversely, you can be wildly in love with a woman, be compatible in many ways, only to find out your sexual perspective and hers don’t match.
While Alessio’s body would launch countless men into flights of fantasy, there are some women that would take his body with a grain of salt, hard as that is to believe. But it’s not a man he is concerned about, it’s his female counterpart. Alessio sees himself as metrosexual.
Alessio was born and raised in Trieste, Italy, moved to San Francisco for ten years, then back to Italy. He has taken nude photographs of himself to explore his sexuality. Plus he likes to keep his mind as open as possible, a good idea if you live in San Francisco for ten years. He believes nude self-photography is a good way to be more confident with his body, and hopefully with himself in general. Until now, he has only shared them with a girlfriend by the name of Daisy, a girl with whom he can share everything.
Like me, you probably think Alessio has an incredible body. For one thing he takes care of it. In fact he has become passionate about taking care of it by running and working out at the gym. His sport is volley ball, a game he participates in and is also passionate about.
I asked Alessio what he thinks about the male body: “I think it is an essential compliment to a woman’s body … it is as beautiful and harmonious like the female form. I believe one body is made to complete the other and there cannot exist one without the other … but this is my personal opinion; I have a lot of respect for gays and lesbians.” However, he has no problem with looking at other men in a locker room.
Alessio may be suffering a temporary self-esteem downturn, but he certainly doesn’t have a libido problem. He currently has an Japanese wife and a girlfriend, which he says is a long story. What can I say … he’s Italian … lot of testosterone running through those veins.
Akessio is spiritual in his own way, with personal beliefs that work for him. He likes to be nude, it makes him feel good, a feeling many of us identify with. Public nudity such as nude Continue readingPin It
Jim Ferringer’s Digital Male Nudes
There are works by certain artists you never tire of, images created by canvas and brush, by stone or clay, or by ink and paper … Jim Ferringer uses pixels to create digital male nudes. Take a really good photograph, or even one of his own, let him work his magic and you end up with a photographic masterpiece. Top that off with the fact he uses images of the male form and you have fantasies like you’ve never experienced before. Not perfect men, bursting with muscle and bodies most of us couldn’t hope to attain, but everyday average men like you and me. Jim doesn’t simply present them in photographic images, he immortalizes them.
Call him a master, a pioneer, a great artist … I call him a man that sits atop his profession. In my relentless search on the World Wide Web, I’ve never discovered anything that equals the digital male nudes that Jim creates, unless you care to go as far back as Michelangelo.
Long gone are the days when the male form was considered an unacceptable or lewd photographic subject. Nude photographic art is just that, art, a presentation of the human body, male or female. Here are some of the photographers that understand that and celebrate images of the male form through their camera lens with talented and thoughtful compositions.
If anyone doubts the beauty of the male form, the strength, the shadows and curves, the subtle nuances; if anyone doesn’t appreciate the mysteries of pure masculinity, Chris is here to change their perspective. At age thirty-one, Chris is male beauty personified, mind body and soul.
Chris is an art student and a male model. When he contacted me I couldn’t resist sharing his pictures and his story with you. He is a delightful young man that understands what resonates in the world of visual art, in this case photography. Through his work he communicates masculine sensitivity and the qualities of life that makes life worth living.
Chris grew up in north Texas. His mom is from the Philippines and his dad from Texas, which explains his mixed ethnicity good looks. He sees nude composition and erotica as a way to experience freedom of expression and creativity. He says the human body is very complex and beautiful, a presence that can invoke great emotion, not just sexual, though he feels that can be fun too.
Chris enjoys doing nudes. He says “The male form is beautiful, not only attractive but powerful and raw. As an art student he has learned to appreciate nudity even more. He shares his nude photos with his boyfriend and on his blog christopherturpinmodel.tumblr.com.
A pose that evokes flights of fantasy. It’s as if Chris is inviting someone to bathe him, an intimate adventure that no doubt would be taken up by any number of enlightened males. My guess is Chris and his boyfriend take care of bathing each other themselves.
“I like my body. Of course no one is perfect. I have learned to appreciate it more. Being of mixed ethnicity I have a very unique look. I work hard every week to bring a more athletic physic to my modeling.” . Continue readingPin It
It’s not just Pete Klimek’s photographic skills, or his artistic photo manipulations, or his poetry or amazing good looks, or his beautiful voice in the music he writes and records … it’s also his remarkable life.
1969 Vienna. The communist occupied, bullet-riddled streets of Prague. Pete Klimek’s family escaped as refugees and “settled like dust” in South Africa, a far cry from the bohemian-style cafes where poetry readings were a common as sipping Turkish coffee in smoky coffee houses.
Read what you will into Pete’s photography. He didn’t discuss his sexuality with me. It doesn’t matter. I am simply enchanted by the man and his work. His poetry is published in a collection called View from the Middle of the Road, Vol. 4 and is available at Amazon.
Pete first picked up his guitar to perform for his first audience in 1977, where he performed his own compositions, and has never quite put it down since, thus making his vocation an eternal series of auditions as a singer/songwriter. Count me among the first to buy his new CD called The Purpose in Everything to be released next month, October 2012. You can hear his music on his website:
Creativity brought Pete back to Europe in the 1990s, where he settled in Rotterdam. Photography and writing formed the essence of his soul. His images and words became intimately interconnected with his thoughts, dreams and emotions. His music echoes in the hallways and alleys of Holland, Germany, the UK, Spain, Belgium and on various radio stations between the continents.
As if all of this were not enough, Pete ranked among South Africa’s top ten tennis players in high school and was offered a scholarship at Tennessee State. Too bad he didn’t take the offer … we might have him here in the States now. But then he would have to put up with our screwy politics.Pin It