Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gay mormon sculptor Trevor Southey

Trevor Southey was an artist, sculptor, painter, print maker, and also a gay Mormon, with a passion for the human form and male body, as we will see in the numerous sculptures, and some drawings, selected for this post.

He came out as gay in 1982, aged 42, which ended his marriage.

Summer is a pride period in many countries. To remember, and pursue, the fight to end discriminations against the LGBT community, and defend the right to love who we choose. So I thought it was a good opportunity to mention Trevor Southey, who became a gay icon in his Utah community, as you will see.

Southey's origin is from European colonists who arrived in South Africa in the 17th century.
He was born in 1940 in Zimbabwe. It is said he became a Mormon 'after hearing four missionaries singing in harmony and learning of the religion's belief in the divinity of man'.

He emigrated to the USA when he was 25, started art classes during two years at the Brighton College of Art in Sussex, England, then one year in South Africa, and then before receiving two degrees at the Brigham Young University, where he was a teacher until 1977. He then pursued an independent career, and gave some drawing classes as well.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts Executive Director Gretchen Dietrich mentioned that Southey loved the human form, even though it was considered old-fashioned at that time.

''It was a passion that sometimes put him at odds with the administration of BYU, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He wasn’t allowed to have his students paint from nude models and, once, a painting he submitted to a faculty art show caused quite a stir, according to his longtime friend Utah Sen. Jim Dabakis.

Dabakis said the dean persuaded Southey to paint over the naughty bits of that nude image using latex paint, which students quickly learned to peel off.

“I’ve always expressed my ideals as if I were living and painting in Renaissance Italy, not puritanical heartland America,” Southey told the Tribune in 2010.

In 1982, 15 years after his marriage, Southey came out as gay, in full honesty and transparency. A wonderful example for many people who may hesitate. He died aged 75 in Salt Lake city.

Trevor Southey sculpture illustrates the Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction (25 short stories about what it means to be both Mormon and gay). ''Some portray characters determined to reconcile their sexuality with the Mormon faith in accordance with its constantly evolving teachings and policies. The majority present the realities of gay/lesbian Mormons who have come to terms with their sexuality in a variety of alternative ways. Others are written from outside the Mormon community, commenting on often strange encounters with Mormons who are gay.''

There is a comprehensive book about Trevor Southey artwork, called 'Reconciliation' and available also in a collector's version (see below) with a bronze bas-relief insert on the cover.

Sources :
LGBTQ nation

Trevor Southey studio blog
Trevor Southey website
Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Trevor Southey book

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Icarus (3) Recent & contemporary sculptures

Below is the large statue of Icarus and Daedalus in Creta, located at Agia Galini, where it is said Icarus and Daedalus escaped from the King Minos.

With regard to the contemporary versions, I subjectively selected some works that all had Icarus as their title, to avoid the numerous 'flying' or 'angels' versions that may express similar poses but may not have been conceived with a link to the Icarus myth.

Stefan Balkenhol - Icarus - Bronze sculpture - 2006

Lucianne Lassalle - Icarus - Bronze sculpture - 2013

Lucianne Lassalle - Icarus - Bronze sculpture - 2013

Leo Krajden - American artist - Icarus 2012

Leather sculpture - author unknown

Igor Mitoraj - He did numerous Icarus versions, some already shared in this blog here. Here are three more!

Ira Reines was born in New York in 1957, and worked with Art Deco Master Erte.
Below his 'Icarus'.

Frank Eliscu (1912–1996) was an American sculptor and art teacher who designed and created the Heisman Trophy in 1935 when he was only 20 years old. It is one of the greatest honors a college athlete can receive.  Eliscu also is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below his Icarus. Is it the sun he is holding in his right hand ?

Anna Gillespie - British sculptor born in 1964 - Icarus - (with a hint on globalwarming).

Csilla Varga, born in Hungary in 1975 and lives in London, England. Sculpture of Icarus, visible at Neil Peat Gallery.
And the last ones for this post are some Icarus sculptures for the Air Force.
Here below for the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum (Illinois, USA).

And here in Hungary, at the Air Force HQ in Zenun near Belgrade.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jason and the Golden Fleece, by Bertel Thorvaldsen (Jason et la Toison d'Or)

This beautiful Jason with the Golden Fleece, male hero from the Greek mythology, was sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor mentioned before in this blog for his Ganymède and his Achille.

This sculpture is considered by many as the masterpiece of Thorvaldsen’s work. It was initially done in clay, life size, in 1802, to show his sculpting ability to the Copenhagen Academy. The nude aspect of the sculpture may have been inspired by the Apollo Belvedere, sculpture that we mentioned previously in this blog as part of the male art in the Vatican.

Bertel Thorvaldsen, from Denmark, is born in 1770, and died in 1844. He spent a major part of his life in Italy (Rome), and would be in the line of the best neoclassicists sculptors, like the Italian Antonio Canova. Canova who apparently was impressed by the Jason sculpture (see 19th century art website in the sources).
Painting of Bertel Thorvaldsen by Rudolf Suhrlandt - 1810 - detail

Drawing of Thorvalden 'Jason' sculpture, by Ferdinando Mori - 1809
Thorvaldsen received a commission from Thomas Hope, a British art lover, to sculpt his Jason in marble, larger than the clay model, and this sculpture of 242 cm (95 inches) will take 25 years to be achieved. The long and exciting story of it can be read in detail here. The marble sculpture was purchased by the Thorvaldsen Museum in 1917, at an auction following Hope's death.
The only known sketch of Jason done by Thorvaldsen - c.1800-1802

Below is a lithograph, dated 1872, made by Thorvald Jensen, showing Thomas Hope arriving in Thorvaldsen' studio to buy Jason with the Golden Fleece.

For those interested in the Greek mythology of Jason's legend: ''Jason was a Greek mythological prince whose wicked uncle Pelias had unjustly taken power from Jason’s father, King Aison. To win back the throne, Jason needed to obtain the Golden Fleece, which was guarded by a dangerous dragon in a far-off land. Jason sailed off with his men to find it, and after surviving numerous dangers and challenges, the brave young man and his comrades finally found the Fleece; this sculpture depicts the proud Jason at the moment where, with the Fleece draped over his arm, he is going down to the ship that will return him to his fatherland.
The Fleece was magical, and guaranteed fertility and wealth to the land that possessed it – so by obtaining it, Jason established that he was not only a prince in name, but indeed, equipped to rule his land in the best possible way. The notion that a person’s station in society is not determined by inherited privileges, but by his or her human abilities, is a fundamental democratic principle. As is well known, classical Greece was the cradle of democracy, and Thorvaldsen’s Jason made its appearance on the artistic scene at precisely the moment when pro-democracy sentiment was making a powerful impact in Europe."

The Copenhagen Thorvaldsen Museum :
As published in the Anderson guide in 1887

The Library
The Danish Post Office decided to create the first Danish Art Stamp with his name, to celebrate his return to Denmark, and his nomination as Citizen of Honour in Copenhagen.
  • Denmark 1938. The Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, after a painting by C.W. Eckersberg.
  • Denmark 1938. Sculpture by Bertel Thorvaldsen, "Jason with the Golden Fleece".  

The Thorvaldsen Museum
The Hope Commission story

19th century art website 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Icarus (2) old engravings

Below are some Icarus and Daedalus engravings. Engraving is taking out material, from glass, wood, stone so I link it to sculpture, although I agree it is very close to drawing!  Famous artists have depicted Icarus with that technique.
Here is a colored woodcut, made by one of my favourite engraver, Albrecht Dürer, in 1493, showing Icarus and his father flying, just before the fall of Icarus.

Here is an Italian engraving (school of Finiguerra) showing the Cretan labyrinth.
Maso Finiguerra (1426-1464) was an engraver (but also a goldsmith) working in Florence. Giorgio Giorgio Vasari declared that he invented the process of engraving to print paper, but it is now proven that Germany developed it before Italy.

The engraving below was done in 1588 by Hendrick Goltzius, showing the Fall of Icarus. Based on a Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem design.

And here is a woodcut made by the German engraver Virgil Solis (1514-1562), to illustrate the Ovide's Metamorphoses book relating the myth of Icarus. He made 183 engravings for Ovid texts. This engraving is visible in Glasgow. He was influenced by the French engraver Bernard Salomon.

 And the Salomon version here from 1557:

In France, we found one engraving from Bernard Picart (1673-1733), who was extremely talented even at a young age, possibly due to his father's skills and good practice at the Royal Academy. Indeed at the age of sixteen he got honors at the Academy of Paris. He established fully in Amsterdam, in 1710, which was a major center for both publishing and printmaking.
This engraving 'The Fall of Icarus' originates from The Temple of the Muses, a portfolio of sixty plates both designed and engraved by Bernard Picart.

Sources :