Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sensual males sculptures in cemeteries (1)

There is a blog focussing on European cemeteries where I have found a few very nice male sculptures, but currently without references to the sculptors or artists involved.

The first male sculpture is in the Budapest cemetery of Kerepesi.

The next one is from the German cemetery of Engeshode in Hannover.

And the last cemetery for today's post is in Staglieno, Gennoa in Italy.

Ed Snyder is a photographer specializing in cemeteries. His blog reports some interesting anecdotes as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Male couple sculpture in cemetery (1)

Male couples sculptures displayed in cemeteries are not (yet) so frequent to my knowledge. I have been touched by this one below,in stone, concrete, or maybe a marble sculpture, affected by time passing, seasons, trees around, rain and maybe snow, ... Despite some search, I haven't found the location or more details.

Photo by Paul Marguerite.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Igor Mitoraj died this month (the 6th) in Paris at the age of 70. I always had an interest in his sculptures. Below are some of his works, often linked to the beauty and sometimes fragile aspect of the male face and body.
'Hermanos' from Mitoraj - displayed in Agrigento
Igor Mitoraj, of Polish origin, was born in 1944 in Germany, and moved to France at the age of 24. He then spent 4 years in Mexico, as he had a strong interest in Precolombian arts, and started to sculpt at that time. Back in Europe, he will go often to Italy from 1979, starting to sculpt marble, while still doing bronze and clay sculptures. In 1983, he opens his studio at Pietrasanta, famous for his marble quarries and workshops.

It is amazing to see that many of his giant works fit perfectly both in a very contemporary surrounding like the French Paris area of La Defense, or among old historical sites like the Valley of Temples in Agrigento (Sicilia). A part of eternity...

'Tindaro' by Mitoraj - 1997 - La Defense - Paris
'Icaro caduto' or 'Fallen Icarus' bronze by Mitoraj

Photo by Fernando Castilla
Photo by Giovanni Ricci Novara
'Angelo / Visita a Maria' marble by Mitoraj - Museo del Vaticano

'Angelo' bronze by Mitoraj - 2006 - Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli - Roma

'Christ' bronze by Mitoraj - 2006 - Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli - Roma

'Torso' bronze by Mitoraj

'Torso d'Icaro' bronze by Mitoraj - photo by Fernando Castilla
'Cacciatori di Adriano' bronze by Mitoraj - 2000
 In 2002, he displayed some of his sculptures at the Valley of Temples in Agrigento (Sicilia - Italy). This can be seen in this video.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The dying slave of Michel Angelo

Michel Ange (1465-1564) who had a passion for the male body, and numerous lovers, was commissionned by Pope Julius II to create his tomb. Part of that project, who took in total close to 40 years, are two slave sculptures : the dying slave, and the rebellious slave.
Eventually they were not included in the overall project, and offered by Michel Angelo in 1542 to his friend Roberto Strozzi, who himself, gave them later on to the French King François 1st.

The dying slave is a larger-than-life-size marble sculpture, displayed in Paris in the Louvre Museum, full of sensuality.


And in Paris, even larger sculptures of the Dying slave can be seen! Indeed, at the 80 avenue Daumesnil, which cross the Rambouillet street, 12 copies have been made below the roof, each close to 5 meters high. There is a large triangle cut in the back/chest. The building was designed by the Spanish architect Manuel Nuñez-Yanowski who started working for Ricardo Bofill.


A contemporary version was made by the French artist Yves Klein (1928-1962).

               And a French stamp engraved in 2003 showing both the rebellious slave and the dying slave.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Narcissus object of desire

Everyone has heard about this myth, at least one of the many versions. Most of the versions have similar elements, like the extreme beauty of Narcissus, and his death.

The Ovide's Metamorphoses tells the story of Narcissus and Echo, ''a mountain nymph, who saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?". She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn't realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually realized that his love could not be addressed and committed suicide.''''

The male version of it, ie a young man instead of a woman who fells in love with Narcissus, is the one by Conon (who lived at same time as Ovide). ''Aminias indeed fell in love with Narcissus, who had already spurned his male suitors. Narcissus also spurned him and gave him a sword. Aminias committed suicide at Narcissus's doorstep. He had prayed to the gods to give Narcissus a lesson for all the pain he provoked. Narcissus walked by a pool of water and decided to drink some. He saw his reflection, became entranced by it, and killed himself because he could not have his object of desire.''

A few sculptures have been created from this myth. My preferred one is sculpted by Paul Dubois, in 1866 currently displayed at the Orsay Museum in Paris.
Paul Dubois marble sculpture 'Narcissus' 1866 (detail)

Drawing - study- by Paul Dubois for his Narcissus sculpture.
Same sculpture - back
 Other sculptures are from Jean-Pierre Cortot, in the Musée des Beaux Arts of Angers, France.

From Ernest Eugène Hiolle (1834-1886) - Fine Arts Museum of Valenciennes, France.
Narcissus by Ernest Eugène Hiolle

 From Benvenuto Cellini, displayed at the Bargello, Firenze, Italy.
Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571)-  Narcissus sculpture - 1548

And below is a curiosity, a hand mirror made by Henri Nock, in 1897, with silver, enamel, precious stones, showing a little sculpture of Narcissus looking into the mirror.

In terms of more recent or contemporary sculptures of Narcissus, here are also two examples.
First by Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937), British artist more known for his portraits, elected to the Royal Academy in 1923, but who suffered later during his career while doing controversial art pieces for his time. This work was cast posthumously by the artist's niece.
Glyn Philpot - Echo and Narcissus - Bronze 56cm

 And this one, made by Karl-Jean Longuet (1904-1981). He studied in Paris, met Brancusi and visited his workshop in 1949, then started to create more abstract figures like this Narcissus.
Karl Jean Longuet - Narcissus

Two videos :
- Video about Narcissus myth

- And below is a video in English about the myth of Narcissus as a gay tragedy

Now, if you read French, is a more detailed story that includes many aspects of this myth gathered together. Source : the world history of male love

Au dire de tout le monde Narcisse était le plus beau garçon de toute la Grèce. Même bébé il attisait les braises de la passion de toutes les femmes qui le gardaient, les jeunes comme les vieilles. Avant son seizième anniversaire il était déjà l'objet de chaque fantasme féminin sur des kilomètres à la ronde et aussi de plus de quelques fantasmes masculins. Ni les filles ni les garçons ne l’intéressaient pourtant le moins du monde.

Echo était une nymphe de la montagne qui avait une fois servi Zeus en entraînant Héra dans des bavardages insensés chaque fois qu’elle était proche de découvrir que le Dieu de la foudre compromettait les voeux de son mariage. Le bavardage de Echo donnait aux invitées de Zeus suffisamment de temps pour faire leur sortie. Quand Héra découvrit le caprice de déesse loquace, elle éclata de rage "Désormais cette langue malfaisante sera silencieuse ! Sauf quand on te parlera, tu ne parleras pas et même alors tu n’émettras que de brefs bruits."

Ainsi quand Echo surprit Narcisse un matin comme le jeune homme luttait avec un cerf qu’il venait de prendre dans son filet, elle ne put que regarder sans parler. Et regarder fut ce qu’elle fit. Même parmi les dieux immortels elle n'avait jamais vu son pareil. Un désir brûlant courut dans ses veines. Comme elle désirait séduire le beau jeune homme avec des mots mielleux, mais elle bougeait ses lèvres en vain.

Narcisse sentit ses yeux sur lui. "Qui est là ?" appela-t-il.
-"Là," répondit Echo, qui pouvait seulement répéter ce qui lui était dit.
- "Laissez-moi vous voir" dit le garçon.
- "Vous voir," dit Echo.

Momentanément intrigué, Narcisse cria alors, "Comment vous appelez-vous ?"

-"Vous appelez," répondit la nymphe. Et, incapable de contenir son ardeur, elle s’échappa de sa cachette et se jeta, chaude et haletante, sur le bel adolescent. Commençant à être habitué à un tel comportement, Narcisse se libéra rapidement de son étreinte et s’enfuit en toute hâte au plus profond de la forêt, laissant ses filets derrière lui.

Echo le poursuivit, essayant de crier les mots qui apaiseraient ses craintes, le désarmeraient, mais aucun son ne vint. Le jeune homme disparut bientôt de sa vue. Pendant des semaines la nymphe erra dans la forêt à la recherche de son bien-aimé, dormant peu, ne mangeant rien. Elle s’amincissait tant qu’il ne resta bientôt d'elle rien qu’un oeil puisse discerner. A ce jour elle erre dans les montagnes du monde entier, cherchant toujours Narcisse. Les canyons rocailleux et les vallées profondes sont sa demeure. On peut l’appeler, et si elle est là, elle répondra mais seulement avec les mots qu’on lui aura dits. Par décret de Héra elle ne peut en prononcer aucun autre.

Un après-midi, à un mois de sa fuite devant Echo, dans un bois isolé haut sur le mont Hélicon Narcisse tomba à genoux, épuisé de chasser et d’être chassé. Devant lui se trouvait une pièce d’eau claire et profonde dont la surface vitreuse capturait la lumière qui traversait les arbres au-dessus pour devenir un miroir parfait. Ceci, bien sûr, se passait bien avant que les miroirs comme nous les connaissons aient été inventés.

Narcisse avait vu son ombre plusieurs fois mais jamais son reflet. Ainsi, quand il se pencha appuyé sur ses mains et ses genoux et regarda dans la mare, il fut surpris par l'image de beauté sans égale qui le regardait. Aucun visage qu’il ait vu ne ressemblait à celui qu’il étudiait à présent. Pour la première fois de sa vie il tombait amoureux.

Echo and Narcissus; John Waterhouse, 1903; Walker Art Gallery at Liverpool

Il baissa son visage plus près pour embrasser le jeune homme et tendit les bras dans la mare pour l’embrasser. Ses lèvres et ses bras trouvèrent seulement de l’eau. Bien qu'il se retira rapidement, l'effet de miroir fut un moment détruit par des ondulations dans l'eau. Pensant que son bien-aimé l’avait fui comme il avait lui-même l’habitude de le faire, Narcisse se mit à pleurer. Bientôt, cependant, l'eau s’éclaircit, et le beau visage apparut à nouveau. "Ne me laisse pas, ô beau jeune homme," supplia-t-il. "Reste, mon amour."

A nouveau Narcisse baissa la main pour toucher la forme dans l'eau ; à nouveau l'image s’estompa quand sa main cassa la surface. Presque convaincu qu’il avait cette fois pour toujours perdu son vrai amour, il s’arracha les cheveux et se griffa la gorge de ses ongles. Quand il se fut apaisé et que les eaux se furent à nouveau éclaircies, l'image de son amour réapparut, meurtrie et échevelée. La vue le peina, et il pleura.

Le chariot d’Hélios finissait sa course à travers le ciel, la nuit grise envahissait la forêt, mais Narcisse ne bougea pas. Rien ne lui importait plus que sauver le jeune homme insaisissable dans la mare. La première lueur de l’aube le trouva à regarder attentivement dans les claires profondeurs de l’eau. Le visage qui apparu lentement était hagard et angoissé. Il tendit la main dans l'eau pour caresser cette joue maintenant si chère à lui, et ses frustrations du jour précédent se renouvelèrent.

"Je t’aime ! Je t’aime !", cria-t-il un millier de fois dans la mare. Le visage, comme Echo, bougeait la bouche mais n’émettait aucun son. Malgré lui, incapable de quitter le bord de la mare, Narcisse finit par mourir là, sa contenance jadis si belle maintenant tordue et grotesque. Les nymphes de la montagne le trouvèrent et l'auraient enterré ; mais comme elles le préparaient pour les funérailles, son corps disparut, et où il se trouvait éclôt une fleur aux pétales d'or teintés de blanc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jean Cocteau & Jean Marais, famous French couple

Jean Cocteau was a French artist in all possible avenues, willing to excel in everything, from writing poems, fiction, novels, theatre plays, to creating ceramics, drawings, paintings, frescas, as well as designs, sculpture and jewellery. He spent a major part of his life (25 years) with the French actor Jean Marais. Before Jean Marais, he had a strong relationship with the young talented writer Raymond Radiguet (Devel in the Flesh - Le Diable au Corps) and also with Edouard Dermit.

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais at the beach - 1939
Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais - photo by Beaton

Born on July 5, 1889, he died aged 74, on Oct 11, 1963. As well summarized by Wikipedia : ''Jean Cocteau is best known for his novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), and the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1949). His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Yul Brynner, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, María Félix, Édith Piaf, Panama Al Brown, Colette and Raymond Radiguet.''

Among other honors, Cocteau was made a member of the Academie Française in 1955, and at the Royal Academy in Belgium as well. Below is the picture of Jean Cocteau dressed in his French Academy suit designed by Lanvin, and with his sword designed by himself and handcrafted by Cartier.

Detail of sword handle

 Here are some sculptures, ceramics, potteries and jewellery made by Jean Cocteau.

photo Annick Puvilland
Faun - bronze medallion

Chevre- pied - bronze - 1958

Pecheur de perles - bronze - 1958

And I could not resist to add a few drawings, some from his Livre Blanc (the White book).
Jean Cocteau drawings have often been inspired by sea life, sailors, etc as seen in his Livre Blanc, and other drawings made for Querelle, famous book written by Jean Genet.

Jean Cocteau in Toulon - 1930


Jean Cocteau sculpture of a faun inspired by Jean Marais face

Jean Marais (1913-1988), his lover, after a successful career in movies then theater, became a ceramist and sculptor as well.

Jean Marais photographed by Raymond Voinquel
Here are some works from him. The first serie of pictures shows 'Le Passe Muraille' (Going through walls) life size bronze sculpture displayed in Paris, inspired by the book from Marcel Aymé.

Other sculptures from Jean Marais :      
head of Jean Cocteau sculpted by Jean Marais - bronze

head of Jean Cocteau sculpted by Jean Marais - terra cotta
Le Chantre

Arno Breker, German sculptor who did many males sculptures as we will see in another post, made both heads from Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais, as seen below.

Arno Breker bronze sculpture - 1963 - head of Jean Cocteau

Arno Breker bronze sculpture - 1963 - head of Jean Marais

Some links :

Several videos / documentaries about Jean Cocteau