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In The Homoerotic Photograph, Allen Ellenzweig reminds us that photography has persistently captured the male gaze upon other men. Gathered here are 127 beautiful and provocative duotone photographs that reflect the wide-ranging history of male homoeroticism as revealed by the camera - amply suggesting spiritual, physical, and intellectual exchange between men. To accompany these images, Ellenzweig offers a detailed account of the multiple and complex meanings of the homoerotic, from the 1850s to today.
Each artist is placed in historical context, with chapters devoted to specific photographers and eras, beginning with the male nude studies created by nineteenth-century French photographer Eugene Durieu under the direction of painter Eugene Delacroix. Later in the century photographers such as Thomas Eakins, Frank Sutcliffe, and F. Holland Day portrayed classical ideals through images of male beauty and bonding, while the work of early twentieth-century photographers - Brassai, for example - showed the influences of the homosexual subculture and of Freud on photography. Modernists and Surrealists, represented by photographers George Platt Lynes and Herbert List, captured the artistic spirit of the late twenties and thirties. Later, the kinship created by war and the conflicting standards imposed by the post-World War II era were reflected in Minor White's spiritual artistry.
Out of the rebellious sixties came the contemporary camera work of Arthur Tress, Duane Michals, and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the ongoing photographic studies of such artists as George Dureau and Chantal Regnault. Their engaging works range from exposes of men experiencing the whole gamut of human emotions - love, fear, sexual arousal, loneliness, hope - to portraits of public and private human relations, to detached explorations of erotic fantasies and primal passions.
Against the backdrop of the disputes surrounding Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial retrospective in 1989 and 1990, Allen Ellenzweig demonstrates that the homoerotic in photography is hardly a contemporary invention. Current photographers across the stylistic spectrum share a common heritage of homoeroticism in photography, which serves to inspire spiritual, physical, and intellectual ideals.
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Book by Ellenzweig Allen George Stambolian
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