Tuesday, September 26

Göz Lokumu

Regular visitors to Aman Yala will know that many of my entries focus on art and music. I write about a genre of Greek music known as Rembetika and also works of art, some well know and others lesser known, that strike me as homoerotic or simply celebrate the beauty of the male form.

The point of these posts is not to mimic an encyclopedia entry. I often provide some basic background information usually in the form of historical context or biographical information about the artist. However, that information is secondary, and those who wanting a more thorough or academic treatment should probably look elsewhere, perhaps Wikipedia.

The purpose of these posts is simply to share my subjective response to the work, my observations and feelings when I see or hear the work in question. Naturally, a different person might respond differently. S/he might make different observations, might think and feel something different than I do. For example, a man might look at the Mona Lisa and be reminded of his wife, or mother, or co-worker. Such is the evocative power of art. Moreover, those who are not interested in my observations are under no obligation to read further.

Now that I’ve said that, I’ll turn to September’s Göz Lokumu. As you might recall from a previous post, I recently visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. I was frankly blown away by their collection and I took many photographs (don’t worry, it’s allowed). I suspect that some of the works I photographed will show up in future Göz Lokumu posts.

The museum’s central barrel vault features an impression sculpture collection with a few by sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) thrown in. One of them, The Age of Bronze (1877), is shown above. His John the Baptist (1878) can be seen in the background.

If you like lean, muscular builds, then you’ll like The Age of Bronze. I stood looking up at the fig-leaf clad figure for several minutes, my gaze lingering over his abdomen and then drawn upwards past his navel, to his chest, into his armpit, and then over to the rapturous look on his handsome face.

Is he waking up? Is he bathing? It’s not clear. What I see, however, is pleasure. I see none of the agony suggested by the work’s earlier title, The Vanquished. I do not see the dejection observed by the anonymous critic writing for L’Etoile Belge (January 29, 1877), which caused him to write that “it seems as if the artist wanted to represent a man on the point of committing suicide.”

For The Age of Bronze, Rodin chose a twenty-two year old Belgian soldier, Auguste Neyt (shown left). When the sculpture was first displayed in Brussels, critics were suspicious of its incredible realism and accused Rodin of making a cast from a live model, a charge that caused him no small amount of anguish. Rodin vigorously defended himself against the rumors, which followed him to Paris. He made sure that his next sculpture was larger than lifesize.


Blogger castor said...

It's a shame, but I've never been in Paris :-( ! So I've never seen the beautiful collection of the Musée d’Orsay. Do you have any other photos of this collection???

11:53 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

hans! how is that possible? you're so close! you should go. the parisian boys are lovely.

i do have lots of photos. i'll be posting them over the next few months.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Do all candidates for goz lokumu have to be young men? If not, I nominate the great bronze statue of Poseidon in the Athens Museum. Standing in supreme confidence, his arm poised to throw a trident that didn't survive Antiquity, he's a handsome, hard-bodied, stunning middle-aged man at the height of vibrance and virility.

I was stunned by him at age 17 and I remain in awe of his strength and beauty now.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

you ask an excellent question. and let me commend you with the most heartfelt sincerity that you have asked it in a constructive and non-combative way.

the answer to your question is, of course, no. and i invite you to compose my october göz lokumu post as a guest blogger. would you do that?

i find your question interesting, because i do find myself wondering about the attractions i feel and the extent to which they've been formed and shaped by the society and culture in which i live and was brought up. we live in a culture in which youth is idealized. my own tastes have been shaped by that, to be sure.

and yet my own attractions would best be described by a spectrum, rather than a dot. there are many older men i find incredibly attractive. even the younger men that i find attractive aren't always (or even often) beautiful in a conventional sense.

none of us finds everyone attractive, right? each of us is drawn to some more than others. that may not have anything to do with external appearance or physical beauty, but for the sake of this discussion, let's focus on that for a second.

i'm drawn to white men more than i am to black men. and yet at a party joe and i attended this past weekend, we were both drooling over a beautiful african-american man in his 20s. we would have gone home with him and his bf in a ny minute. but is my more frequent attraction to white men the result of internalized racism? one might argue that a white man drawn exclusively to black men (or black women) or asians is also reacting to internalized racism in the form of fetishism and a kind of exotification and objectification of "the other." it gets complicated, no?

likewise, i'm drawn more frequently (though by no means exclusively) to younger men more than i am to older men. but more than that, i'm drawn to guys who are fit and who take care of themselves regardless of their age. however, even that betrays my bias for a certain body type, which some might construe as excessively narrow. similarly, does being attracted exclusively to men in itself make one sexist or misogynistic?

if our tastes and attractions are by nature discriminating does that make them discriminatory? i'm not sure, but i suspect the answer is no. still, in perusing the personal ads (c'mon, we all do it), the ads featuring the oh-so-kind "no fats or fems" always make me bristle.

i find some people more beautiful and attractive than others, but i always recognize that it's just my particular, subjective tastes at work. if i'm not attracted to somebody, it's not because i think he or she lacks beauty in an absolute or objective sense. i recognize that somebody else might find the same person striking.

i guess maybe we should recognize that our tastes have been shaped by a less than perfect culture, we shouldn't try to read too much into who and what we find attractive. but i welcome your thoughts on this, because i find this discussion quite fascinating, and i'd like to know what you think. i hope that's not more than you bargained for :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Dean--no, not more than I bargained for but a lot of fascinating information that will take a while to digest and respond to.

I am both honored and delighted to have been asked to write the October Goz Lokumu post and I'd love to do it, thanks!

4:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.