Archive for the Gay Category

Perseus and Andromedus

Posted in Annibale Carracci, Babylon Beefcake, Gay, Perseus & Andromeda/us, Vasari on July 24, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As today is my birthday (49th), I thought I might be allowed a bit of self indulgence. This blog of course explores my interest, but I rarely feel it is suitable  or appropriate to publish images of my own work, today will be an exception. I will , as usual include images created by far greater masters then this humble author;  to provide examples of inspiration, and sadly reveal the weakness of my own compositions. With this in mind , please view my attempts as the scribbles of an enthusiastic amateur.

Since boyhood Greek mythology has captured my imagination, the tale of valiant Perseus rescuing fair Andromeda a particular favorite. Psychologically I haven’t a clue as to why this myth resonated so viscerally;  am I Andromeda? am I Perseus?

I imagine I am a hybrid of both.

I recently stumbled upon an example of the myth by Giorio  Vasari, this painting rekindled my delight in the tale and inspired me to attempt my own version. I desired to portray the story as closely as Vasari had, but to switch the lovely  maidenAndromeda with an equally lovely boy, Andromedus -if I mangled the Latin, pardon me, my last Latin class was in 1980.

Giorgio Vasari

Perseus and Andromeda

1570-1572

Oil on slate

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

What I find of particular interest is that in this painting , part of a decorative scheme depicting the elements, this being water, Vasari is not only imaging the voluptuous moment of valiant rescue, but also depicting the moment in which coral is first created. Popular legend imagined coral to be the result of the spilt blood of the gorgon Medusa.

I love that, I have a bit of coral around my neck, I am tickled that it is a relic of  the fearsome Medusa.

My composition sketch is more modest, and I fear perhaps more “gay”, I probably should examine why that is bothersome to me. Vasari very clearly relished depicting the seductive Nereids in their aquatic Sapphic play. Why should I hesitate to depict vulnerable male pulchritude?

by the author

Perseus and Andromedus 

preparatory drawing for oil painting, 30 by 40 inches

2011

graphite on paper

Ovid describes Andromeda , bound and helpless, as frozen like a “marble statue”; I wanted to capture that  sense with  my youth, resigned to his fate. This is the moment prior to his salvation  Perseus approaching from behind, Vasari depicts the scene post rescue, the monster quite slain.

detail

detail of the Vasari.

I  admire how Vasari managed to balance his sensual delight in the figures and still create a  poetic composition. what I fear is my composition will take on the lascivious qualities of illustrators such as Boris Vallejo.

work by Boris Vallejo

I hope that with a thoughtful palette, I will be able to avoid the excesses so often depicted in what is categorized  as gay art. I hope this isn’t some bit of repressed internal homophobia, but in actuality an attempt to fuse sensuality with beauty. The Humanist painters were so successful at that.

As usual I will conclude with some really marvelous examples of this fusion of beauty, physical and soulful. They of course provide inspiration and intimidate the hell out of me. I must carry on nonetheless.

Annibale Carracci

Perseus and Andromeda

 1597

fresco

Farnese Gallery, Rome

click to enlarge

Annibale’s brother, Domenichino ,might have been responsible for the depiction of Andromeda’s wailing parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

I particularly love the sea monster. I chose to depict my own Leviathan dragon- like, but I may change that as the painting progresses.

Another marvelous example is painted on lapis lazuli, such opulence!

Cavalier d’Arpina, also known as Giuseppe Casani

Perseus Rescuing Andromeda

1593-1594

oil on lapis lazuli

 St. Louis Art Museum

The next image, from Pompeii, is perhaps a bit closer to the source of the tale.

Wall painting,

Pompeii, Casa Dei Dioscuri

The following example, though more chaste, is perhaps a more charming depiction of the rescue. 

anonymous 15th century illumination

The following 18th century example really capture the fleshiness of the tale, a visual delight.

Charles André van Loo

Perseus and Andromeda

1735-1740

oil on canvas

Hermitage

Again, enchanted by the Sea Monster, I really will have to re-work my version.

Anton Raphael Mengs

Perseus and Andromeda

1774-1779

oil on canvas

Hermitage

This smoking hot Perseus is soon to be replaced in the 19th century by images almost as chaste as the 15th century illumination.

Our loss.

Alas the artist’s skill level is probably more in line with my own.

Illustration of the tale by Gustav Benjamin Schwab ( 1792-1850).

Schwab’s depiction of Perseus is lifted  almost directly from Carracci’s imagining of Mercury in the Farnese panel Paris and Mercury, although as mentioned without the nasty bits.

Annibale Carracci

Paris and Mercury

A more poetic image from a Frenchman is perhaps to be expected.

 Charles Edouard de Beaumont (1812-1888)

Andromeda

19th century illustration

I will begin the painting shortly,  it is a daunting task,  but one that I look forward to. I will periodically keep my readers abreast on its progress.

Until then,

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Slow going on the painting, but here is the progress thus far.

August 5th 2011

detail of August 5th’s progress

Blocking in, August 7th

August 11th

August 14th, I have continued to work on Perseus for much of the day.

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The Real Deal, Charles Demuth

Posted in 20th century, Gay on April 9, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Feeling a bit shamefaced by my naiveté concerning the last post, I felt the need to present an actual artist from a period I so admire; Charles Demuth of course comes to mind.

This image still startles me.


Turkish Bath with Self Portrait

Charles Demuth

1918

Really quite extraordinary , the background action a bit shocking.

I was unaware that he was born in Lancaster Pennsylvania, I am hard pressed to imagine this man with his fantastic imagery hailing from such a dour(though attractive) place. The Demuth Museum link provides more details.

Self Portrait

1907

 

b. 8th of November 1883

d. 23rd of October 1935

Final home, now the Demuth Museum, quite a good looking place.

Buildings, Lancaster

1930

Distinguished Air

1936

The painting I am most familiar with, I assume the sculpture that is being admired is a mock Brancusi.

Three Sailors

1917

I’m sad to say I hesitated including this, I tend towards prudery I’m afraid.


Men at a Bar

1912

I really admire the sense of artificial light captured in the medium of watercolor, no mean feat.

Artist on the Beach at Provincetown

1934

Poppies

1929

Wishing all a happy weekend,

Babylon Baroque

Bruce Sargeant, the Gay Deceiver?

Posted in 20th century, Babylon Beefcake, Gay, Quaintance on April 7, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Thumbing through the always excellent Gay & Lesbian Review, I was struck by an arresting image, a painting by Bruce Sargeant, Wrestler in Singlet.

As the article promised, I had never heard of Sargeant.

Apparently, a painter of promise, born 1898, that golden period before the war. Gifted, inspired, his talents enhanced by a stint at the Slade School, tragic affairs with young pretty boys, familial exile and ultimately a tragic early (1938) death when a wrestling match goes awry ( I assume with quite a cute lad).

Is all this some sort of E.M. Forster fantasy? If so,  the G&LR doesn’t let on that it is.

Upon research it appears to be some high camp romp. Mark Beard,  a”distant relative”, seems to have created Sargeant as his alter ego. The mainstream gay rags, Out and The Advocate in particular seem to be a bit more clued in.

I confess I am still a bit baffled, but evidence suggests it is a bit of a prank.

In the end it doesn’t matter, painted in the 20’s in some Bloomsbury haze, or yesterday by some smart fellow in New York, the images are a  joy to behold, undeniably sexy, well crafted,  and worthy of our attention be it directed at Beard or Sargeant.


Swimmer Drying Himself

Berlin Olympics

1936

John Stevenson Gallery

 

Portrait of a Wrestler

John Stevenson Gallery

Untitled

Weight Lifter

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery


Standing Male Nude

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery


Unidentified Surfer

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Young Wrestlers

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

1938

(the year of his wrestling match “death”)

Sargeant’s/ Beard’s draftsmanship is exceptional as the following images illustrate.

both sourced from Carrie Haddad Gallery.

My suspicions were raised by this high camp scene, but really is it any more extreme then some fantasy by George Quaintance?

La Chasse aux Cygnes

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

1892?

(he was supposedly born in ’98)

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Great fun.

This mysterious play has left me yearning for flesh and blood vintage beefcake, so I close with some actual dapper fellows.

Tim Murnane

1874

1898

source

Butch (indeed)

1925

source

If interested there is a book which seems to accompany Beard’s/Sargeants work, Bruce Sargeant and His Circle, Figure and Form, by Mark Beard.

I hope you have enjoyed these rather naughty images as much as I have.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

Addendum: my chum Serge, far worldlier (not to mention a collector of Beard/Sargeant) has set me straight so to speak, follow this link for the complete scoop.

George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace

Posted in 20th century, Gay, George Platt Lynes, George Tooker, Jared French, Paul Cadmus, Pierro della Francesca, Recquiscat in Pace, Reginald Marsh on March 31, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I was saddened to read that George Tooker had died Sunday.

I have only just begun to appreciate his work, and that of his circle, and now he has passed, link to NYT obituary.


George Clair Tooker Jr.

Self Portrait

1947

b. 5th August 1920

d. 27th March 2011

age 90

Described as a Symbolist and  a Magic Realist, labels he eschewed ; I find in Tooker’s work  ( this is  certainly not an original thought ) a strong link to the Renaissance, in particular the work of Piero della Francesca. It is not just his medium,  egg tempera, that calls this association to mind, his sensibilities, though decidedly modern, have strong roots in the rich Renaissance tradition, a modernist Neo-Renaissance perhaps.


Pierro della Francesca

St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist

George Tooker

Window XI

part of the Windows series, 1950-1960.

Having a strong determination to paint, which was contrary to parental desire, Tooker majored in English Literature at Harvard ( this boy was no slouch) yet continued to paint. His circle included Reginald Marsh, Paul Cadmus ( who introduced Tooker to egg tempera) and Jared French; fine company, tremendous inspiration.

George Tooker by George Platt Lynes

source

Cornice

Difficult to ignore a certain resemblance.

Perhaps his most disturbing portrait is Children and Spastics , three effeminate men being pummeled by little monsters. Was this mocking? empathetic? or merely an observation?

It is striking, and quite modern.


Children and Spastics

1946

Museum of Contemporary Art

Chicago

I was first drawn to Tookers work due to the following image, it is easy to understand my attraction.


Coney Island

1947

Difficult to ignore the Pieta reference.

As I mentioned with the earlier image, Tooker created a series, Windows, during the 50’s and 60’s; comely Puerto Rican neighbors being  his inspiration.


Window XIII

The Window

lithograph

After his longtime partner the painter William Christopher died in 1973 ( they had met in ’49, quite a commitment ), Tooker was understandably devastated. He followed a path I can sympathize with, he found comfort in the arms of the Mother Church, and moved to Vermont. Seems quite sensible.

The following link is a recent interview he gave to Vermont Public Radio, it’s a treat to hear his thoughts.


sourced from the New York Times

I found a rather complete gallery of Tooker’s work, unfortunately much isn’t titled or dated, but the images are ravishing.

It is a great loss, we will miss out on new Tooker paintings, mysterious, gorgeous work; fortunately he left a large body of work to absorb, contemplate and enjoy.

Dance

1946


Good Night,

Babylon Baroque



Babylon Beefcake

Posted in 19th Century, Babylon Baroque, beefcake, Gay on March 25, 2011 by babylonbaroque


No rhyme or reason, just cute fellas long gone…

sourced from The Haunted Lamp

Love this guy, so damn cute!

Enjoy the weekend my friends,

warm wishes from  Babylon

Mid-Century Victoriana, Gaslight Romanticism

Posted in 19th Century, Ben Shahn, Booth Tarkington, Disney, Fin de Siècle, Gaslight Romanticism, Gay, Orson Welles, Pugs, The Magnificent Ambersons on March 4, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In my continuing obsession with the 19th century, the fin de Siècle in particular;I have been ruminating about that curious, often sanitized version depicted in mainstream  American culture (particularly  film) during the  mid century (give or take a decade or two).

 

Perhaps it was just nostalgia, Walt Disney, when describing his vacuous horror Main Street stated: “For those of us who remember the carefree time it recreates, Main Street will bring back happy memories. For younger visitors, it is an adventure in turning back the calendar to the days of their grandfather’s youth.”

Although the Disney oeuvre offends my sensibilities, his interpretation of what I call Gaslight Romanticism was extremely influential. In his own Main Street pied-e-terre, the cobwebs of Victorianism have been swept away in a cheery attempt at nostalgic recollection.

Images of his apartment will follow.

The 19th century, being such a close memory for many of the mid-century inspired some really beautiful interpretations as well, Saul Steinberg and Ben Shahn coming to mind.


Ben Shahn

Farewell to New York- All That is Beautiful

watercolor on paper

ca. 1965

I recently stumbled upon this wonderful illustration by Max Bignans, circa 1961, it beautifully captures the era’s fascination with Paris during the Gay 90’s.

Max Bignans illustration

ca. 1961

Thank you Chateau Thombeau.

Perhaps it was just the sauciness of the 90’s that had such great appeal for mainstream audiences. What I love about the fin de Siècle, the Decadent movement, Oscar, Beardsley et al are given little play.

Heteronormative fantasy is the fashion of the period.


Marilyn

It is difficult to not be seduced by the charms of Montmarte during the 90’s , what bothers me is how chaste (yet vaguely sexy) the depictions were, the 1952 Moulin Rouge starring the very pretty Zsa Zsa Gabor a prime example.

As pretty as she is, the clip fails to capture what I find so very appealing about the Montmartre scene.

George Cukor’s 1964 My Fair Lady offered a much more stylized interpretations, at least based upon Miss Hepburn’s costume, a pared down confection seemingly inspired by Charles Worth.


Cukor’s vision, although a little nauseating for my tastes- I may be the only gay man with a deep rooted aversion to the musical genre- admirably captures the Victorian/Edwardian interior.

Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 Gigi offers a particularly vivid interpretation of the 19th century interior; again I suggest muting the clip, it is way too shrill for my ears.


Some folks seem to really enjoy this stuff.


My curiosity for this Hollywood spin on Gaslight Romanticism was inspired by my recently watching the very silly 1965 comedy The Great Race, directed by the late great Blake Edwards. I have never seen Tony Curtis so fey , Natalie Wood so charming(and shapely) or so many adorable pug-dogs.

It goes down as one of my favorite movies.

the very adorable Miss Wood

I particularly love the opening credits, very period, both 1890’s and 1960’s, an admirable accomplishment.

Two films from my youth depict the 90’s , the first that I remember being Gene Kelly’s 1969 Hello Dolly, starring Louis Armsrtrong and Miss Streisand.

I am only just beginning to understand her appeal (a little too much of  a middle- aged -gay -homo cliche for my taste) but she does seem to have quite an impressive voice.

I might convert yet.

Of course we mustn’t forget Miss Channing

Miss Channing

The other film of my childhood, one that haunted me with boyhood nightmares was the 1968 film directed by Ken Hughes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The Child Catcher of Vulgaria ( gotta love it!) sent my brother David and I into fits of terror.

We of course adored it.

Sally Anne Howes as the deliciously named Truly Scrumptious is really quite scrumptious.

The only film depiction of the 19th century that I am wild about is from a little earlier; Orson Welles 1942 masterpiece The Magnificent Ambersons based upon the equally stupendous 1918 novel of the same title by Booth Tarkington.

The film ( and the novel) captures the somewhat claustrophobic atmosphere of the 19th century that I perversely find so very appealing.


I love how Welles captured the spirit of the Victorian painted backdrop of the traveling photographer.

This clip clearly captures Welles understanding and perhaps sympathy for the 19th century sensibility.

The following image is of the now demolished Indianapolis mansion that inspired the Amberson mansion of Tarkington’s novel.

It is undeniably magnificent.

I include the following clip from the 2002 A&E interpretation of Welles’  masterpiece, only because it features pretty boy Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Ridiculous of me, ridiculous of A&E.

As I mentioned before Uncle Walt ( that moniker  has ALWAYS creeped me out) was perhaps influential for this whole “bright & cheery” spin on my beloved dark and romantic 19th century aesthetic. His apartment certainly looks a heck of lot like my own Nana’s home, although she chose the particularly bilious palette of “peach and Wedgewood blue”, trust me it was a horror. God rest her antiquarian lovin’ soul!

Uncle Walt in situ , above MainStreet’s Firehouse.

A true horror.

Evidently this frightful lamp is left burning to honor the great man’s passing.


God this is one ugly lamp.

I don’t fully comprhend the vitriol I have towards this man and his vision; a tremendous number of people ( friends and family included) adore this fellow. For more info concerning Walt,  his vision of Victoriana, and  his apartment follow this  link.

I for one will take my 19th century straight up, clutter, moodiness, romanticism intact,

although perhaps at times a clearing out of clutter is in order.


I appreciate your indulgence in this particularly long post; if for some reason you want to further explore Hollywood films depicting the fin de Siècle follow this link.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Edward Carpenter and George Merrill,a love beyond class, convention and law.

Posted in Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, Fred Holland Day, Gay, Labour & Socialism, Walter Crane on February 9, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As my last post concerning the Greystone murder/suicide was quite a dreary view of love, I had the desire to explore a love that shone bright; particularly poignant considering the repressive Victorian-Edwardian society in which it was expressed.

I am speaking of the love between the Socialist poet-philosopher Edward Carpenter and his working class partner George Merrill; having met in 1881, their love endured for 47 years until Merril died unexpectedly in June of 1928.

All we can ask for is such a sunny season for love to blossom.


Edward Carpenter & George Merrill

undated

source of image

Carpenter, a man of many talents and interests, is best known for his devotion to Socialism and the plight of the working man; we will see how that interest extended into his personal and romantic life. Aside from his role as a prominent Socialist philosopher and poet, he was the author of various Labour anthems, a devotee of Hindu mysticism and philosophy, a vegetarian, an anti-vivisectionist, a naturist, an advocate of sustainable farming, an environmentalist, and most charmingly , an advocate of the Rational Dress movement.

Carpenter, note the sandals.

Rational Dress Dandy ca. 1905

Carpenter

circa 1875

(handsome devil)

b. 29th August 1844

d. 28th june 1929

Carpenter, like his chum Walt Whitman

Walt

experienced a growing concern for the plight of the working man. Having moved to Sheffield in 1874 , he became increasingly aware of the the difficulties endured by the “working stiff”. It was during this period that he wrote the Labour anthem England Arise, the following link provides the verse. Carpenter edited the workingman’s songbook Chants of Labour, the frontispiece by Walter Crane, (the most renowned Socialist artist of his day and ours)is quite telling; the depiction of the hunky laborer clearly illustrating Carpenter’s taste in his fellow man.

Chants of Labour

edited by Edward Carpenter

illustrated by Walter Crane

A Songbook of the people with music Edited by Edward Carpenter

(there is a clearer example of this image available at the link to Chants of Labour)

In 1882 Carpenter experienced the good fortune of inheriting his father’s considerable wealth; this allowed him  to devote his energies to the joint causes of the working class and market gardening ( a dream our current locavores aspire to).In ’84 he joins the Socialist League with Master Wm. Morris, further securing his allegiance to the common man.

The year 1886 gives him a taste of love with George Hukin; this is not an emotionally satisfying relationship, as Hukins marries conventionally. This brief bout of unrequited love sharpens Carpenter’s ability to sustain a far truer, happier period of enchantment with Merrill.

George Hukin and Edward Carpenter

source of image

Having met Merrill , a man of the Sheffield slums having no formal education, in 1881 ; they do not move in together until 1898. What the reason for the delay was I am unclear, I for one, moved in with the Beloved quite soon after our initial date.

George Merrill

b. 1866

d. June 1928

(not sure why his vital info is so vague, class snobbery?)

Carpenter best expressed his attraction to “trade” in The Intermediate Sex:

“It is noticeable how often Uranians (as in Plato’s Symposium ) of good position and breeding are drawn to rougher types…”.

So taken was E.M. Forster by the “rougher type”, that when Merrill patted his bum, poor frazzled Forster “scudder-ed” ( pun intended”) home to write Maurice; the character Scudder is for the most part based upon Merrill.

I am left with an enduring respect for this couple, even in our more  tolerant climate, gay love is a challenge; these boys faced a far harsher climate yet the sweetness of their love prevails.

Thank you George and Edward.


I dedicate this post to working boys,

panel designed by Walter Crane

1885

source of image

and to my own dear spouse of 15 wonderful years.

Have a most marvelous Saint Valentine’s Day!

Babylon Baroque

image by Fred Holland Day