Monday, April 25, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Fifty years ago this book, 100 Artists of the Male Figure, may have been considered an outrage or an affront. Few artists were working figuratively and fewer still were concentrating on men. Thirty years ago, this book might have been dismissed as a “gay” thing or a “guy” thing, as something relating to “coming out” or grandstanding. Thankfully those days are over.
Today, the most remarkable aspect of the book is not that it is only about men, but that it has tremendous range, expertise and emotion, even with the narrow focus. But maybe the focus is not so narrow. Men, after all, number about half of the 7 billion people on the planet, why shouldn't they have an art book (or many art books) celebrating themselves?
Furthermore, speaking as a heterosexual woman of a certain age, I frankly have to admit that I enjoy looking at men! As the founder and publisher of the nude art calendar contest, Barebrush.com, I have often heard the complaint from women as well as men, “There are not enough men in the calendar! Where are the men?”
The curator, E. Gibbons, prefaces the work admirably, explaining how the range of the content, representing various approaches, styles and emotions is designed to increase the reader's interest and satisfaction. The introduction by Grady Harp sets the male figure in its historical context, from the Kuros figures of ancient Greece, through Roman, medieval, Renaissance and modern depictions. Then each artist has a say: a two-page spread with a head shot, self-portrait or signature image, accompanied by text and, of course, the artist's images. Artists' contact information is also included in the book.
Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
For humor, composition and pizazz, I love Thigh of Relief by Campbell Paxton of Ohio.
For pure physicality of form, my copy of the book obeys my silent command and falls open automatically at Anonymous by Chris Lopez of Florida.
And finally, the artist whose work most seems to capture my feeling of what is needed to be an artist today: Sunday Morning Sam by Steve Cronkite (Connecticut) shows the artist's primary focus on reality, but with the strength, confidence, and a certain brutalized bravado to express the truth. If I could paint like that, I'd be a happy lady.
|Paxton, Thigh of Relief|