Harp, Grady (editor and writer), Peter Dobson and Edward Moran. “Eros & Adonis: The Male Figure in Art History; A Compilation of Articles from The Art of Man”, CreateSpace, 2013.
The Art of the Male Figure
I love that the male figure is being written about once again—this is the second book this month that deals with it. So often, art is dominated by the female figure but we know that it was not always that way and this book shows us just that. Bringing Eros (the god of carnal love) and Adonis (the god of male beauty) together gives a look at homoerotic art. Now we must understand that homoeroticism is not always gay and both men and women, straight and gay, are curious about the bodies of others and how they measure up. In the world of art (which includes painting, sculpture, digital imagery and photography), the male figure classically is depicted with what pleases both body and mind—man as he wishes to be and it was not until fairly recent that we see man as he really is. Eroticism has always been part of life so it is here as well. We must acknowledge that eroticism as this is what Grady Harp does so well here. Looking at the male form in art teaches us a lot about the nature of masculinity and what it really means to be a man. Harp not only deals with the art in his writing but also with the historical period in which that art was created. We learn of beauty and history simultaneously in language that is easy to read as it tells us so much.
The book is visually beautiful and the essays are all excellent. We get a new look at the art of the male figure.
The artists represented here “are Agnolo Bronzino (1503 – 1572), Guido Reni (1575 – 1642), Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825), William Blake (1757 – 1827, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (1809 – 1864), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 – 1904), Thomas Eakins (1844 – 1916, Eugène Jansson (1862 – 1915), Shozo Nagano (1928 – 2007), Cornelius McCarthy (1935 – 2009) and Wade Reynolds (1929 – 2011. They represent art from the 17th to the 21st century and each is notable not only for their importance in history but also for their celebration of the male form”. Also are included are “surveys of Greek and Roman Sculpture, the Influence of the Orient on Occidental Art, and articles on the uses of the images of Icarus, Ganymede, Apollo, Hercules, and Saint Sebastian throughout the ages up to contemporary times”. If some of these names sound unfamiliar to you, that will be changed after reading this book.
“The Art of Man” is a popular art quarterly and it provided the idea for this volume. It is the essays that were taken from the first twelve issues of the quarterly that so well explain all that we see here. This is a wonderful book for art students but it also enlightening for all of us. There are twenty articles and an introduction and with Harp doing the editing and the writing, we get a real treat. The guest writers also add to it all.