- Tom- Tom
Early in 2011 Barbara Cardy, editor of this new anthology of male nudes, asked me to write an introduction to the book. The assignment allowed me to consider many issues fundamental to the genre. The invitation required a careful look at the work of 46 artists in an effort to understand what common considerations and divergent ideas were afoot in the world of male nude photography today.
My conclusion is stated in the first paragraph of my Introduction:
“Photographs of men, particularly the naked man, always have two subjects. One subject is the man in the image, more or less. The other is the way the artist sees and represents that man. The viewer is looking at two statements. At times the subject is allowed to “speak” and we get some sense of a real man. At times, the subject is an object used in the artist’s composition. The artists in this book represent the continuum along a curve on which the subject is a prop in the artist’s vision at one end and the artist is looking for something in the man to tell the world about at the other.”
In this photo of Dan, one of my own contributions to the book, I chose an iconic figure and made an art history reference to a favorite painting – High Yaller – by Reginald Marsh painted in 1936. In this sense, my photo represents my own thought process – triggered by the reality of an extraordinary man. I’ve long loved Marsh’s painting for the dignity and sexual charge of its subject. When Dan and I were considering some bathing suits as props for his pictures, the yellow one jumped out and the connection to High Yaller became evident to me. Because Dan was in the military, I couldn’t include his face – so the only thing I was able to tell the world about this man was that he was a powerful sexual being. His self regard is evidenced by his hand to his chest and his fearless exposure of his gorgeous dick (which is not, for the record, fully erect.) This picture is, therefore, both aesthetically and politically (Black is Beautiful) informed.
I’ve given a deeper reading of one my own pictures here and tried to give some insights into how one might “read” the work of the other 45 artists included in The Mammoth Book of Gorgeous Guys. The book gives you plenty of beautiful men as seen through the eyes of both men and women . You can see more about the book, the other artists, and buy it here.