- Tom- Tom
Personally, I am a fan of the human armpit (despite the derogatory connotation in the phrase – “the armpit of the world” – to describe some hellish place we are glad not to be.) To me, it’s a gorgeous erogenous zone and a wonderful place to plant my nose. I prefer it natural, unpolluted by some zinc oxide deodorant that sends shudders down your spine and shrivels your tongue when you taste it.
Artists have celebrated this part of us over time. The photo above was made in 1935 by Man Ray, one of the great modernist pioneers who demonstrated that photography was indeed art, back when many people thought it wasn’t or couldn’t be. Man Ray is also an artist who inspired all of us who find the poetry in the details of human anatomy. The polished anatomical detail as art in photography predates all of us who expressed the idea in the latter half of the 20th century and beyond.
Robert Mapplethorpe made a beautiful demonstration of this idea with Lisa Lyon in 1981. Lisa was a pioneer female bodybuilder with an athlete’s physical structure. Robert brought the same sensibility to his photos of sculpture.
I wasn’t thinking of Man Ray when I made this picture of Ben’s armpit as he sat atop me in bed one morning. In retrospect I see that even though I did not know this Man Ray photo until recently, he and I were on the same aesthetic page. My photo was made while Ben and I were making love. The sheen on his body is a result of the activity in which we were then engaged. Ben allows me to memorialize what turns me on from time to time in the midst of what ever we’re doing – including making love. I love finding images in real life that other artists usually make in a more studied manner. Art imitates life and reinforces its pleasures.
When I convert my photo of Ben to black and white, the commonality of vision with other artists is more clear.
I don’t doubt that if I searched for more sympathetic images, I’d find volumes full. But this handful of images makes the point I intend. Artists help us focus on what is transcendently beautiful about us. Robert shows us this beauty in his photo titled simply Armpit made in 1988.
In this image, I’ve presented of a man who is physically exceptional in every part. The aesthetic detail – his armpit – becomes an essential element of his portrait and of his allure. The detail is a beautiful landscape in and of itself, the contemplation of which can take us to heaven.
I love the way I come upon the reminders of art in life. Over a year ago, when Ben was in Edinburgh one night and I was in Palm Springs, he sent me an iPhone picture that he knew would turn me on. This image was later edited into FINE ART SEX as an example of found art. The image is a totally contemporary iteration of the idea of the aesthetic/erotic detail. I find it more powerful as art because it was made to seduce rather than “look like art.” It hangs in our home now.