men_in_full: (de vos bacchus)
Thanks to Unapologetically Fat for the appreciative remarks in a recent post on men in fat acceptance. As I am not a man, I can't speak *for* fat men, but I can speak *about* them. Unapologetically Fat said:
[Men_in_full] is low-drama, high-impact. Their photographs, paintings, postcards, cartoons, statuary, etc. celebrate the physical beauty of large men in art and culture. The portrayals are almost exclusively positive; portraying large men as powerful, strong, beautiful, glad, and desirable. For those who've missed the last ten years or so, men are quickly arriving at pressure to obtain impossible physicalities right there along with women. These pictures may be more subversive than you think, and therefore more valuable.

"Low-drama, high-impact" is about the nicest thing one could say about this little gallery. And thanks so much to [ profile] oakmouse for tipping me off; I've not had a lot of computer time recently and have fallen behind on Fatosphere blog reading, so I missed this. Now, on to the art...

Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) was an early German expressionist painter whose work appears far more "modern" than you would expect for the latter half of the 19th century. I'd heard of him, mainly because when you used to get off the elevator on the second floor of the St. Louis Art Museum, you would be greeted by the painting my children when small called "the boobie lady." I haven't been up to the second floor (which houses the "modern," i.e. 20th century art) recently, preferring the more distant past, so I'm not sure if Nana still greets visitors with such enthusiasm. Corinth did numerous self-portraits, one of which appears below, and which appeals to me with its soft, relaxed and casual air.


I'm always interested in representations of fat Bacchus, so with glee I present to you this one.

"Heimkehrende Bacchanten"
men_in_full: (daniel lambert)
Charlie Hunter has some interesting diptychs; paired drawings meant to be looked at as one would examine the pages of an open book, or as sequential comic panels. Hunter draws both portraits and narrative pictorial "stories" of large, older men. He draws inspiration from comic art, and lists as influences John Byrne and Bill Sienkiewicz.

Charlie Hunter's drawings, NSFW )

men_in_full: (beardsley bacchus)
[ profile] bilt4hugin in the last post's comments remarked on the homoeroticism of Ramin Haerizadeh's photographs. The artist is drawing from a long-standing Persian tradition, one which has been vehemently suppressed by the current Iranian regime. One viewer of the "Men of Allah" exhibit wrote:
In Ramin Haerizadeh's photo montage "Men of Allah," bearded figures pout and lounge languidly among intricate Persian patterns. The series of sensuous, sexually ambiguous semi-nudes, created in secret in Tehran, is a bold critique of gender roles in Iranian society, representing what the artist has called "closet queens." In London, the cavorting, hairy limbs are considered risqué. In a society with few civil liberties, and where homosexuality is vehemently denied, these rich, sumptuous images are rudely subversive.

I imagine Haerizadeh produced his works at great personal risk.

In her recent book, Sexual Politics in Modern Iran, Janet Afary points out that Iranian homophobia was a Western import dating from the early 20th century, a consequence of modernization. Traditionally, though,
Afary's extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified "status-defined homosexuality," in which an older man - presumably the active partner in sex - acquired a younger partner, or amrad.

Afary demonstrates how, in this period, "male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner's career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones ...

Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the "Mirror for Princes" genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives ...

Homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses... Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments."

While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how "Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status... The bond between lover and beloved was... based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both... Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love."

Two suitors vye for a young man's attention. I like to think he picked the larger man ... :D
Also, somebody forgot to move their cursor when doing the copypasta.
men_in_full: (bowler)
[ profile] thornyc was so taken by the fat men bowling from the other day that he went out and found some of his own, including a few by Arthur Thiele which I hadn't seen before. So I highly recommend you go take a look. Thiele is rapidly becoming my new "artist crush" for all sorts of reasons, one of which is the warm Gemütlichkeit infusing his scenes; the other is that his big bowlers all look quite fetching in their vests and trousers.

Some of the vintage bowling postcards also show big men having accidents, usually involving pants-splitting, beer-spilling, etc. At first I was a little reluctant to feature these, because they seem to be on the more typical level of "fat guy pratfalls." But the tone still feels "good" in these old images, because these things *do* happen sometimes, and in the art, nobody seems terribly put out by it.

Also, Thor's LJ-cut text was so clever, I had to steal it.

Ten full frames )

men_in_full: (wm howard taft)
Thanks to the reader who sent this to me.

San Francisco artist Justine Lai (b. 1985) has set out for herself a project of ambition - to paint herself in a sexual encounter with each one of the United States Presidents. She started the Join or Die project in 2006, and is up to President #18 (Ulysses S. Grant, president from 1877 to 1881.)

More, with 2 SFW images )

ETA: The Rotund wrote about this a few weeks ago, and included more on Taft here.

men_in_full: (Nine of Cups)
Earlier, I wrote about "Fat Men as Nine of Cups in the Tarot". Personally, I don't use tarot cards for divination, but rather as visual inspirations for my creative thought processes. The "characters" in the tarot point to ancient and common human experiences with many different types of people and situations. Pretty much everyone experiences authority figures, extremes of masculinity and femininity, power, disappointment, love, death, etc. To me, the tarot cards can serve as lenses which focus all these experiences, and can even make them intelligible (or more bearable, perhaps) while we are going through them.

The Nine of Cups is often represented as a large or even fat man, sitting at ease and seeming to welcome us into his space, which often is a banquet hall, or inn, or some kind of club or resort (in the more modern Osho-Wasser Zen tarot below.) Someone in a comment thread below brought up the subject of being a fat man and having confidence, or not as much as one would like. That's one marked characteristic of the Nine of Cups man - his confidence and ease. Many of the tarot cards contain qualities worthy of emulation, such as Justice, Temperance, Strength in the "major trumps," for instance. We could probably all benefit from incorporating some of the sober responsible authority of the Emperor or the patient wisdom of the Priestess. The "minor trumps" (of the which the Nine of Cups is one) impart their lessons too, and confident geniality is one of those qualities which this card points out to us - and the one pointing is a genial fat man.

Nine of Cups, six SFW images )

men_in_full: (iz and marlene)
I've mostly thought of the Swiss symbolist Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) as a painter of moody islands, but in later life he created quite a few images of mythological sea-people which both charm and disturb at the same time. I came across these:

Two Böcklin sea scenes, SFW )

men_in_full: (opera goers)
I've been browsing male portraits of the Baroque masters. They're interesting for several reasons.

For one, they give the lie to the notion that fatness is something new, a consequence of television, "junk food," and commuting to work by car. But these painters depict a range of body types and sizes. While most of their bigger men wouldn't even be considered "fat" in today's eyes, the variety can clearly be seen, both in individual and group portraits.

For another, the Baroque portraitists only hint at the shape of their subjects' bodies, almost as if they didn't have bodies at all. These men seem to exist as intensely rendered, bright faces which float above a sea of massed black, with the curvature of the belly faintly outlined by a white hand, or the occasional glint of jet buttons or belt. Sometimes only the texture of fabric barely defines the flesh's slope, as in this 1634 portrait of Juan Mateos by Velazquez (link.) Only their faces reveal the concealed softness, in the fold of a chin or the roundness of a jowl.

Bodies swallowed in black (picture-heavy and SFW) )

men_in_full: (Default)
In Greek mythology, Ganymede was in Homer "the loveliest born to the race of mortals." Love-smitten Zeus either transformed himself into an eagle, or sent his eagle to steal the young Phrygian shepherd from his father and brothers, conveyed him to Olympus, and gave Ganymede eternal youth and life. The young man came to serve as cupbearer to the gods, mixing the nectar with water. Legend has it that Zeus's wife Hera always withdrew her hand in anger, and out of jealousy would not drink.

Euripedes called Ganymede "the dear delight of Zeus's bed" in Iphignia at Aulis. The youth's Latin name, Ganymede Catamitus, gave us the old phrase "catamite" for a young man who has a sexual relationship with an older one. Another name given to him is "Himeros," or "desire."

While the Greeks portrayed Ganymede as a slim youth of the kouros type, later depictions showed him as fuller-bodied.

Ganymede gallery )

I'm not sure why some of the Roman and later Western images showed Ganymede as plump. Perhaps slimness was associated with youth in Greece, but not in Rome or Christian Western Europe. It might be that Ganymede's plumpness was a subtle allusion to his status as Zeus's lover, as a way to "feminize" him somehow, as if Zeus's attraction "required" some explanation.

(Ganymede lore from
men_in_full: (opera goers)
I have no idea who the figure is in the painting. He doesn't look like the typical representation of the "holy fat man" Ho-Tei (mistakenly called "the laughing Buddha.") Since the caption calls him "The Fat God," I'll take its word for it. It's a charming image, though, and the patter looks lucky indeed.

men_in_full: (Default)

Within the Tarot deck, one of the cards for which I have a deep affinity is the Nine of Cups. I don't pretend to be any sort of expert, but from what I know, the Nine of Cups is one of the most positive and unifying cards of the deck. It signifies (among other things) sensual delight, pleasure, fulfillment of one's heart's desires, and even love-making. It's so closely tied to fulfillment that sometimes it is called "The Wish Card." Interestingly, the Nine of Cups in some decks is represented by a larger or even fat man.

Since the cups are often arranged behind him, as if on a shelf, some describe him as the archetypal welcoming innkeeper (think of Barliman Butterbur in Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring.) But while Butterbur was forgetful, foolish, and a bit of a coward, the Innkeeper of the cards is none of these. He offers to nourish us with food, drink, companionship, bonhomie, and the life of the flesh as well.

Welcome, bliss, contentment, generosity ... )
men_in_full: (Default)
Recently I've been looking at some of Brian Murphy's paintings.

He's a Seattle artist who does self-portraits, including nudes. One reviewer said:
Murphy paints himself. Images of his flesh floating in watercolor on paper are massive volumes with no weight. He presents himself as large and leaky, the brown of his beard draining into the sand-pink cloud of his sagging belly and below. His torso dwarfs his head, and his eyes, when visible, are clear, alert and verging on confrontational....

Only for Murphy does flesh float. He's a tempest of his own making, creating weather states as self-portraits. Because you can see through them, they're apparitional, an insubstantial pageant ready to melt into colored air. ...
All well and good. His images *do* float, as effortlessly as Sunday in G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, the one of whom Dr. Bull said, ""Shall I make it clear if I say that I liked him because he was so fat? ... It was because he was so fat and so light. Just like a balloon. We always think of fat people as heavy, but he could have danced against a sylph."

The images are not only light, but luminescent.

However, later the reviewer says,
Painting himself as spirit dogged by flesh enables him to explore not just the container his consciousness comes in but the existential subject of inescapable suffering. Life is a deforming experience, but there are consolations, the grace Murphy brings to the ungainly experience of being alive.
Now, what's that supposed to be about? "Dogged by flesh?" What I see here is a celebration of flesh. Nor do I perceive suffering in Murphy's paintings. Nothing in them is "ungainly." And to use the word "deforming" in this context is just insulting.

Well, guess that's why I'm not an art critic...

Some self-portraits from the Invisible series can also be seen on this Winston Wachter gallery page.
men_in_full: (Default)
The Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) left us with the term "rubenesque" to refer to the large figure. It's almost always applied to women, though, as his paintings of women are more familiar. However, as [ profile] jennie_jay points out in the comments from a few days ago, Rubens did paint larger men as well.

One striking example is his "Bacchus," below. (Click for larger view.)

Rubens paints this fat male figure with a somewhat dozy face, slight edema of the lower legs, dimples, and cellulite. You can almost see his upper arms shake. But Ruben's Bacchus, as impressive as he is, doesn't project the same hand-over-flesh sensuousness as my Flemish favorite, Cornelius De Vos's Triumph of Bacchus.

First, there's Ruben's Bacchus's rather staged pose. He looks blankly off into the distance. The other figures seem preoccupied with either drinking it in or peeing it out, as the case may be. They look away from the viewer; one satyr even has his back turned. No one seems particularly happy, except maybe the urinating child. Bacchus's rich body dominates the visual field, but the action pulls us away from him, and while the colors are warm, the emotional tone is cool, distant, maybe even a little bored.

It may be that Rubens was trying to make a moralistic point ("Drink enough and this is what you look like," perhaps?)

Personally, I happen to like De Vos's Bacchus better, even if he isn't as artfully painted. He appeals more because he's engaged with those around him. He embraces the girl and is in turn caressed by her. The satyr on the right has helped himself to a handful of love handle, and we wonder what the other hand is doing. The little one chomps on the grapes Bacchus holds. While De Vos's god's eyes drift as they do in Rubens' painting, he langourously submits to the attention, and we who watch can feel him feel it. It's hard for a visual image to convey the sense of touch, yet De Vos does. Also, the two figures on either side of Bacchus look directly at us. They draw us in, offer to share. There's enough to go around, they seem to say.


Mar. 31st, 2007 09:54 pm
men_in_full: (Default)
According to Camille Paglia in Sexual Personae, the Greeks adopted the long, sleek lines of the ideal Egyptian form and made it their own. Thus the gods became "beautiful" in the modern, Western sense - economical of form, lightly muscled, well-defined.

But because Greek religion was an amalgam of older folk beliefs mixed with the more recent Olympian pantheon, they never quite lost the more "prehistoric" gods. The older gods and goddesses, instead of being children of Zeus, were children of the Earth herself. Such a one was Seilenos (in the Latin, Silenus): "Shaggyhaired Seilenos, who himself sprang up out of mother Gaia (Earth) unbegotten and self-delivered." (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 29.243)

Silenus )


men_in_full: (Default)

September 2013



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