Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Humanity against Evil - by Gaetano Cellini

A few weeks before critical elections in USA, I submit to your thoughts and appreciation this remarkable sculpture in marble made by Gaetano Cellini in 1908, entitled 'Humanity against Evil'. It is currently visible at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, Italy.


Gaetano Cellini (1873-1937) was born in Ravenna. Influenced by Rodin, who he met, and by Michelangelo, he presented this sculpture first in plaster, in Milan in 1906. With that model, he won a famous prize "Premio Fumagalli dell'Accademia di Brera".
The marble version was finished in 1908.

Photo Ken Munsie

At the base of the sculpture, you can read two lines in Italian (or more precisely a dialect from northern Italy) translated as : “Thus I’ll extirpate using my teeth and nails / the eternal pain that stings my heart”.
Homodesiribus blog

Friday, October 7, 2016

Gay secrets of the MET Museum - New York

If you are in New York next November 4, 2016 you may want to explore some less-known aspects of the Metropolitan Museum treasures, during a tour called 'Gay Secrets of the Met'.
This artistic & fun & knowledge-sharing promenade is organized by Oscar Wilde Tours and is led by the famous professor, Andrew Lear (see some bio extracts at the end of the post).

Of course, you will see Greek and Roman ancient nude statues, like Hadrian (the first out gay leader as Lear says) and Antinous (well mentioned in this blog here), but also homoerotic art pieces from other periods, Renaissance, phallic totems of Oceania, beautiful Italian paintings, curious erotic vases, sculptures, etc. all depicting, visibly of more hidden at times, gay characters, male love, seducing scenes, etc.

Some artists can be well known at times, like Caravaggio or Rodin, but you will discover others too. They all depict the appreciation for the male love. Professor Lear did some research on one interesting painting by Andrea Sacchi for example, ''depicting a nude Apollo crowning the soprano singer Pasqualini. With a bit of digging, Lear concluded the painting was secretly an homage to the intimate relationship between the singer and a well-known cardinal of the time, a nephew of Pope Urban VIII. ''.

As Eventbrite quotes : ''The Met doesn’t have as many male nudes as other major museums because there was little trustee backing for the curators to acquire risqué pieces in its early days. The Met’s funders, more so than other museums, Lear claims, were a dominating and “very prudish” group. As visible by today’s exhibits, that didn’t last. “There’s so much homo-eroticism in the history of art that you can’t keep it out that easily,” Lear says. “Even if you try, it’s going to pop back up.” “In the Renaissance, anytime there was an excuse for making something homoerotic, they do,” Lear says. 
At the end of tour, Professor Lear shows a trio of portraits done by gay New Yorkers in the 1940s art scene.

Professor Andrew Lear (Oscar Wilde Tours)
Some bio extracts:

Professor Andrew Lear combines a love of travel with a passion for gay history, and he brings both of those attributes to Oscar Wilde Tours.
Professor Lear holds a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA. He has published a widely praised book on male-male love in ancient Greek art, as well as a number of important scholarly articles in this area. Indeed he is generally considered one of the foremost experts on same-sex love in the ancient world, but his interest in gay history extends to other key periods, such as fin-de-siècle England, Renaissance Italy, and medieval Japan...
A beloved teacher at Harvard, Columbia and NYU, Professor Lear won the Harvard Certificate for Excellence in Teaching four times. He has taught a wide variety of courses in Classics, history, art history, and gender studies—as well as Italian and French language classes.

His courses on sexuality in the ancient world have been particularly popular.
Professor Lear brings all those qualities to Oscar Wilde Tours, along with twenty years of experience organizing and leading group tours. With his vast cultural background, his detailed knowledge of gay history and his long experience of travel, Professor Lear strives to provide our guests with a vacation that is intellectually stimulating, culturally rewarding and, above all, fun!

Oscar Wilde Tours

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

David's ankles in the NY Times!

A few weeks ago, the NY Times published a very amusing, amazing and interesting article about Michel Angelo's David, that I submit to you if you click on the NY Times link here.

Photo (detail) by Maurizio Cattelan for NY Times.
No doubt you will appreciate some great reminders about the Renaissance period in Italy, the technical details of some restoration process, but also the comments made by some (American) tourists in Florence, and the David mania as stated by Sam Anderson in his article.

NY Times 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Génius of Arts, by Antonin Mercié

In many countries, September is the period when children go back to school...  Today's beautiful sculpture aims to encourage them to study the arts, with Antonin Mercié 'Génie des Arts' large haut-relief, visible at the Guichet du Louvre in Paris, facing the river Seine.

Génie, in terms of sculpture, or painting, describes a kid with wings, in this case he is sitting on the Pegasus winged horse. Sometimes the feet are covered with foliage ('rinceaux', in French).

This sculpture, made in 1877, replaced a Napoleon III sculpture from the sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye. (There is a similar sculpture on the Jules Michelet tomb, visible at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris). It is made in hammered copper.

Antonin Mercié (1845-1916) was a famous French sculptor, who received the Prix de Rome in 1868 (when he was 23 years old!). He made a famous 'David' bronze sculpture (edited at 100 copies, the large one is visible at the Orsay Museum in Paris. He sculpted the Arago monument in Perpignan, a marble sculpture for the tomb of the wife of Charles Ferry, called 'Souvenir'. And several other monuments, for Jules Ferry, Meissonier, Louis Faidherbe, Adolphe Thiers,  and a 'Regret' sculpture for Alexandre Cabanel tomb. And also a large stone sculpture called 'Justice'...

Below, photograph of Antonin Mercié in his studio (115, boulevard Saint Michel Paris).
Mercié was also a painter, one of his famous painting being the Michel Angelo studying anatomy (1885). He was one of the teacher at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris, for both drawing and sculpture. He became President of the French Artists society in 1913.He is resting in Toulouse, at the Terre-Cabale cemetery.

Mercié portrait (1900) done by Ramon Casas - Musée Nat. des Arts - Catalogne - Spain
Sources :
Louvre Museum
Paris1900 L'Art 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Stone carvers world tour

The male beauties sculpted in stone and visible in today's museums, galleries, cathedrals, castles, churches, public monuments, parks and places, have a similar origin : a (large) block of marble or other stone, block that was extracted from the ground, in various quarries such as the famous Carrara, Volterra, and Pietrasanta in Italy, by famous or less known carvers and sculptors. And these cathedrals, palaces or public monuments as well were built using carved blocks of stone or marble.

Italy (detail - Architecture Allegorie -hard stone marqueterie - painting from Giuseppe Zocchi)

So here is a visual world tour of some of these carvers and sculptors, their tools, their workshops or studios and a selection of some marble and other stone quarries. Let start with some stone carvers, through photographs, old postcards, paintings, drawings, and even marqueterie with hard stone!

Italy (Architecture allegorie - this is an impressive hard stone marqueterie based on a painting from Giuseppe Zocchi - we will write more about him later on).

France - Bastia, in Corsica

Middle-age drawings:

 Russia - Moscow
 France - Amiens
Dated 1425

USA - Queens - NYC
 USA - Indiana - Limestone blocks, 1929.
 USA - Manhattan NYC, 1905
 USa - Washington, 1854
 USA - Prisoners in the State Prison of Massachusetts

India - Assam, 1920
 China - Guangzou, 1790
 Japan - artist Wada Sanzo, 1883-1967
Mexico - Diego Rivera drawing

Mexico  - Carl Pappe 1936


Sources :
Site de Pierres-Info  
Histoire des Arts et des Métiers

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