Monday, March 25, 2013

The Speed God

At the risk of having our friend Kid break a tooth while gritting, regarding concern over my orientation, here is but one more example of JC Leyender's masterful use of the male form. 

Take a deep breath, Kid : >)

J.C. Leyendecker — Collier's — January 19, 1907


Annie said...

Oh, come on, Thom - Even Kid would have to admit that Leyendecker's males are yummy, especially the first man you showed in this series, Mr. Spring of 1929. But, I have to say that one reason these male figures could "appeal" to both sexes, is that Leyendecker has posed the men as "objects" with uber masculine bodies and stereotypical feminine vulnerability. I do appreciate them as figure studies, and his skill in the portrayal. "Spring" is wonderful for its composition and stunning effect. Thank you for sharing them!

Kid said...

Perhaps I don't see them as 'yummy' because I'm so used to seeing that kind of physique staring back at me from the mirror. I'm an Adonis, I tell you - an Adonis! (He lied, as he sucks in his pot-belly.)

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Hi Kid,

Seriously, Annie has a good point, that if, from an aesthetic point of view, one looks at these male figures, not as persons, but as objects, then the eye connects to the brain in a different way—much like viewing a painting of a vase or a sculpture, as in fact most of Leyendecker's paintings do look sculptural.

It's interesting to contemplate that the argument is made continuously that many men view women as 'objects', rather than as persons. To my mind, that approach is not so bad when viewing photos or artwork, as indeed the artist has focused on the subject AS an object, to be enjoyed aesthetically for the form, texture, lighting, and emotional appeal—whether it's a study of a beautiful building, a beautiful tree, or a beautiful woman (beauty as defined in the deepest connotation).

It's when men treat the living real woman as an object that he has transgressed the morals of humanism, and has grievously done harm.

As for that belly—wear it with pride, as I do. Past a certain age, life is best lived in moderation, not in mythological perfection.

But then, I know you know all that of what I've said, I'm preaching to the choir.

Annie said...

Hi Thom, I like that observation, that many of the paintings are sculptural. I knew there was something about them I couldn't quite identify, and I think that is it, more so even than "objectifying" the subject. We view sculptures of figures in a different way; though three dimensional, they are stylized, and his paintings capture that feeling of viewing a sculpture.

Daniel [] said...

Figure drawing attracted me long before I had much concern for things sexual, and I continue to respond strongly but without much-if-any sexual lust to idealized images of the human body. But plainly some artists are largely (or even principally) expressing their sexuality through their work.

There are artists who've often (or always) sought to depict the human body as repulsive. (I don't want to touch-off a debate about any particular artist, so I'll leave that claim without support beyond the sanity of the reader.) And I suppose that one should wonder about how these expressions may be categorized in terms of sexualized and non-sexualized motivations.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Daniel, I've come to really dislike most pin-up art as it blatantly is trying to tug on the sexual strings. In Victorian times nudity was used a lot in paintings, much of it anchored by classical settings and themes and it (for me) made nudity seem wholesome and pure.

Nudity, for the most part, has become totally sexually charged these days and I'm very disappointed by that.

Daniel [] said...

For my part, I don't mind blatant sexualization as such in art. What I mind are two things.

First, that so many people will insist on a sexualized interpretation whenever and wherever at all possible, and that a larger group of people will act as if those obsessives ought to be treated with anything better than pity.

Second, that so much of the sexualization involves depicting the subject as indiscriminately available, vulnerable, perhaps even helpless.

As to this second nastiness, I think that the reason that this sort of sexualization is so common is two-fold.

On the one hand, there are a lot of people who are jerks, at least when it comes to their fantasies.

On the other hand, it doesn't take a lot of talent to imagine someone having his or her clothing ripped-off or somesuch, whereas it takes a great deal of talent to formulate a single image that can suggest a story that would erotically excite someone whose sexuality is characterized by significantly more humane values.