men_in_full: (rubens bacchus)

"Apostles of Meat," Dario Ortiz, Colombia (b. 1968)

In Spanish, the title is "Apostilicos de Carne," which could also mean "Apostles of flesh," or "Apostles of the flesh." "Meat" sounds more stark, or like a commodity to be consumed; "carne" has more implication of the sensual and immediate physical reality of flesh. The artist says, "In Antwerp the nicname for Rubens was "The apostle of the flesh". My painting is a personal homage to this great master."

Rubens also masterfully and sympathetically painted aging flesh.

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: (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: (nacken)
Thanks to [ profile] epi_lj:

"Fat Land Reclining,"
by Israeli artist Itamar Jobani (b. 1980.)

From some gallery notes:
Adapting the technique of building topographic models to depict the human body, the very foundation of Jobani’s work speaks to the deep confluence between bodies of land and the bodies of men. Indeed in the Hebrew translation, the words for land (adama) and men (adam) are very similar...

The sculpture is from a series called "Wounded Topographies," although to me the image of a fat man conflated with the land doesn't seem so wounded. In fact, it calls to mind the wonderfully evocative phrase from Hebrew scripture, "the fat of the land." A fat man here in this artwork becomes the literal embodiment of the land's health and vitality.

men_in_full: (opera goers)
Those of you in Seattle or thereby might want to take a look at some of Brian Murphy's works at the Winston Wachter gallery, on exhibit until October 10.

Seattle art critic Regina Hackett in her review "Art Began With Fat People" compares one of the works on exhibit, Untitled (Triple Figure), to Renaissance painter Titian's "Allegory of Prudence," and says:

Titian's subject matter alludes to consequences that follow in sequence, and yet the painting broods over a darker, less predictable world. Murphy responds to the horror of it all, which in his hands is a gravity-free insistence. As to prudence, it's his character's undoing. Following Blake, the fictional Murphy knows it's a "rich, ugly old maid courted by incapacity." Because the character he projects cannot leave it behind, he continues to stare at the audience, as if it were a mirror.

In Fat Man Floating, I took issue with Hackett's use of the word "deformity" in connection with Murphy's treatment of images of the fat man, and I have the same reaction to Hackett's invocation here of "horror." Breaking free of gravity isn't necessarily horrible. There is something breathtaking about a large, fat man light on his feet, especially while dancing.

Nor is the triple invocation of an allegorical figure necessarily depressing. We have the Christian holy trinity; the Triple Goddess of girl, woman, and crone; the triad of id, ego, and superego in Freudian psychology; the animus/anima, self, and shadow in the theories of Carl Jung. The organizing principle, whether of the universe or the self, is often expressed in threes.

Everyone's self is to a certain extent divided between the conscious mind, the "adaptive unconscious" that thinks below the conscious mind's awareness, and the desiring, "animal" mind. So it's not surprising that artists would want to play with multiple and/or divided images, especially where the figures all look similar (as opposed to Titian's "ages of man" allegory, where each face represents a different stage in the lifespan.) Deliberately showing these divisions by multiplying the human figure perhaps can lead to bringing all those aspects of the divided self back into oneness and wholeness.

Below is one of my favorite of Murphy's paintings, probably because it *isn't* divided or fractioned. Murphy is brave, I think, to paint the very large and round man from an angle which many would consider "unflattering" (IOW the opposite of how many large people like to be painted or photographed, because the shot from above makes one look smaller.) Instead of hiding from size, Murphy literally spreads flesh across the paper, and where Hackett might see cloudlike evanescence, I see a delightful and earthy weight.

men_in_full: (opera goers)

Doc Pomus, 1925-1991

Ever heard of Doc Pomus, the singer / blues songwriter who wrote rhythm and blues songs for Elvis, the Drifters, and others? I hadn't, until reading Meowser's review on fatfu of Albert Halberstadt's 2007 Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus.

Pomus was a man of big heart, big soul, and big body, damaged by polio as a child. Meowser writes:
... He wrote the lyric to the Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me” while watching his wife dance with other men at their wedding, knowing he would never be able to dance with her himself. (Reportedly Drifters lead singer Ben E. King was told about the origins of the song right before recording his vocal, and had to fight back tears the entire time he was live on the mike.) (Link added by me.)

New York Times reviewer Alan Light said:
Pomus knew a few things about the downside. Though John Lennon told him that a Pomus song was the first number the Beatles ever practiced together, and Bob Dylan came to him for guidance during a bout with writer’s block, his life amounted to a series of tough breaks interrupted by a few years’ worth of songs that will live forever.

Born Jerome Felder in working-class Brooklyn in 1925, he contracted polio as a boy. With the radio as his bedside companion, he first discovered classical music before becoming transfixed by hot jazz and jump blues. A chance encounter with a Big Joe Turner record would shape the rest of his life; Felder heard that huge blast of a voice, Halberstadt writes, and “that, he thought, is how a man should sound.”

Halberstadt told Denise Sullivan in an interview in Crawdaddy! magazine that he first became interested in Pomus's "introspective and dark lyrics" interspersed in what superficially sounded like commercial hit melodies. Through Pomo's journals, diaries, and recollections of his children, late wife, and lovers, Halberstadt recreated the world of a big man behind the scenes of a great deal of mid-twentieth century music, from R&B up through rock and roll. It's a sad reflection on the commercialization of music that Pomus for years had to support himself and his children through private card games run out of his NYC apartment.

I'm looking forward to reading Halberstadt's biograpy. It makes you wonder, how many other "great ones" are there in our midst, unnoticed because they don't quite match up with the conventional appearance of a "superstar?" Thanks, Meowser, for an introduction to at least one of them.

men_in_full: (pensive)

British painter Lucien Freud's 1995 painting, "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping," recently fetched $33.6 million at a recent auction at Christie's in New York City. It was apparently the largest auction price offered for a living artist's work. Model Sue Tilley was pleased with the painting, and called it "lovely". This powerful depiction of a fat woman reclining on a couch has drawn attention not only because of the model's size, but because Freud portrays flesh in a particularly intense way. Art critic Robert Hughes in 1993 described it as, "A heavy mass like cream with gravel in it." Another observer said, "You can die in the folds of his paint."

Freud also painted the large male body. Hughes goes on:
Since the late '80s, Freud's work has become more audacious in its ability to deal with extremes of physical presence without sliding into caricature. In part this is due to his finding a new model in the form of Leigh Bowery, a huge, soft, hairless, child-faced, pierced-cheeked performance artist who might, in earlier days, have modeled Bacchuses for Rubens. Freud's paintings of this man-mountain are done in a spirit not far from amazement: his excitement in traversing Bowery's back in "Naked Man, Back View, 1991-92," is so palpable that you'd think he was exploring a new landscape -- as, in fact, he was.

Performance artist and transvestite Leigh Bowery (1961-1994) was one of Freud's favourite models. As it happened:
The artist became fascinated by this strange figure - the shape of his body, tone of his skin and his monumental presence. Freud prefers to know his models well in order to portray them most effectively. He made several paintings of Bowery over a period of four years, during which time they became friends. It was a relationship of mutual inspiration, as Freud considered his model to be ‘perfectly beautiful’ and Bowery loved to pose for Freud. (link)

Picture-heavy, and so NSFW )

men_in_full: (Default)

Fat men often find their way into modern "Bacchic" renditions. Click the thumbnail for the full image.

I don't know the title or artist for this photograph on the right. If anyone does, please let me know, so I can give credit. The subject seems pretty "bacchic," and not just because of the grapes. Yes, it's his distinctively heavy body, but also the wicked and "satyric" expression which he fixes upon the viewer. This image has just the sort of earthiness for a "bacchic" one.

More, and image-heavy... )

men_in_full: (rubens bacchus)
I'm always looking for representations of fat men that are a little romantic, not in a romance-novel sense (although it would be fun to see a larger man on the cover of a romance novel), but one where the men's natural beauty is portrayed more sensitively and emotionally. So I was interested to run across the work of this painter, even though I couldn't find much to actually look at online.

'There's Nothing as Subversively Beautiful as a Fat Naked Guy in the Woods' [NSFW] )
men_in_full: (Default)
In front of me I have an Anjou pear, and its red-brown skin is almost the same color as the wings of David Addison Small's fat angels.

We're used to seeing dimpled putti, the plump, winged boy babies who are often called "cherubs." Small, however, reaches farther back to ancient angelic roots in his Angeli Terrae (Grounded Angels) series. His red-winged angels aren't soft like putti. Instead, they're thick and round older men, whose contoured edges slightly blur with slack flesh on the arms or at the base of the belly.

In Wim Wender's 1987 film Wings of Desire, the angel Damiel incarnates for the love of the trapeze artist Marian. Small's angels have come to earth for love as well: to inspire the painter as his muses, and also for simple sensual joys like enjoying a good cigar, basking in a warm fire on a snowy hilltop, or gazing out to sea.

They not only love their depictor, who sits warmed by their roundness as he listens to their whispered counsel, but crowd next to each other. Even when they rest alone, their internal senses seem always attuned to some unheard frequency.

More... )
men_in_full: (opera goers)
These fat figurines from Italy's Florence Studios have been making the rounds.

Florence Studio Fat Figures, NSFW )
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: (love)
Recently I've been listening to a lot of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's music, and I'm entranced.

"Braddah IZ" (as he was known) was a Hawai'ian native, a singer and ukelele player who died in 1997 of respiratory failure at the young age of 38. At the time of his death he weighed about 700 lbs. His coffin sat in state in the Hawai'ian capital, where thousands came by to pay their respects to the "gentle giant."

He had a fine tenor, tender and smooth as cream. IZ's lyrics ranged from Hawai'ian liberation and restoration of the monarchy, through covers of popular tunes like "Over the Rainbow" and "Wind Beneath My Wings," original material, to traditional Hawai'ian songs. He was firm and committed without being shrill or preachy.

I love this photograph, from his biography IZ: Voice of the People by Rick Carroll and IZ's widow Marlene. It's probably his wife's hand, brushing or stroking his hair. Looking at it, you're reminded how rare it is to see a sensual, affectionate photograph of a fat man being loved.

He also had a sensual side. In "Ahi Wela" (from Alone in IZ World), the translation offered here goes like this:

Ahi wela mai nei loko (Fire (is) hot hither here inside)
I ka hana a ke aloha (In the act of love)
E lalawe nei ku'u kino (Overwhelms here my body)
Konikoni lua i ka pu'uwai (Throbbing doubly much in the heart)

Or take "Kamalani," from the album E Ale E. Kamalani roughly means "princess," and the translator tells us that literally, pûkani nui means a "large sounding horn," but figuratively signifies "large fine soft sleeping mats made of fine white leaves in the center of a cluster of pandanus leaves." In other words, on one level it means perhaps a love call, one beloved calling to another, and on another level it means the soft bed in which the lovers nestle.
Where is my love, Kamalani?
Please answer me, Kamalani
Pûkani Nui, Pûkani Nui.

Oh here I am, Kamalani,
Here in this paradise
Kamalani, Kamalani
Is this the fullness of heaven,
Here in this paradise?

He wrote an almost-wistful song called "Thunder of Heaven" (on the E Ale E album), honoring the Hawaiian sumitori who attained fame in Japan, Hawai'ian men whose size was not seen as a disability, but as a source of strength and pride.

Later, while re-reading James Michener's Hawai'i, I learned that traditionally to die was to set one's foot on the rainbow. It makes this image even more poignant, as well as his signature cover of "Over the Rainbow." IZ - husband, father, lover, man with a mountainous heart.


men_in_full: (Default)

September 2013



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