Buttocks III: (mainstream) art, male art, porn

A follow-up to two earlier postings today, about art works of various kinds focused on the male buttocks. The first, “Buttocks display” was largely about men’s premium underwear ads celebrating male buttocks — work by professional photographers (using professional models), carefuly posed and lit, and often very artfully framed, but also clearly attentive to the sexual desirability of the models’ bodies. Art with a homoerotic eye. One brand of what is known as male art. (For a collection of books on the genre, see the Page on Male art on this blog.)

The second posting, “The art of the buttocks”, looked at some mainstream art — notably, paintings by the early 19th-century artist William Etty (who specialized in nudes of all sorts).

And then there’s frank (gay) porn, in which buttocks play a central role (because anal intercourse does). Covered very extensively on this blog (see the Page on pornstars on this blog).

The first thing to be said on these distinctions is that you can’t tell just by looking; you might need to know quite a lot about the context in which a work appears, to judge the intentions of the creator and, especially, to judge the work’s place in the social worlds surrounding it.

An early stab of mine at making some distinctions in this area: my 3/19/13 posting “Porn/art”:

I’ve often reflected on the line — not at all clear — between gay porn photography and male [primarily homoerotic] art photography. The easy delineation has to do with intent: gay porn is intended to get guys off, male photography is aesthetic appreciation of the male body. But of course motives are mixed: porn can be artfully done, male photography can be arousing. There’s no one reading of an image.

A case in point: the main image in this TitanMen ad for a post-St. Patrick’s Day sale, viewable on AZBlogX here. Carefully composed — certainly not great art, but well crafted — with a dose of humor in the green shamrock on the model’s ass. What makes it porn is in part the context, plus the presentation of the model as a hole to be fucked. (But there’s male photography not much different from this: Steven Vaschon’s two Rear View books, for example.)

Vaschon’s two books are loving celebrations of male buttocks — homoerotic celebrations, but also readable as very high-quality male nudes in the mainstream tradition. A significant part of the homoerotic effect is that the photos come by the dozens in books with nothing else in them. The covers:


(#1) Rear View, 2003; b&w, small format


(#2) Rear View 2, 2005: luscious color, some sepia, large format

One Response to “Buttocks III: (mainstream) art, male art, porn”

  1. Gadi Says:

    All this talk of buttocks in an age where so much attention is paid to public memorial statues reminded me of the statue of Captain John Parker on Lexington Battle Green in Lexington, MA. It was sculpted by a man named Henry H. Kitson. Either he had a particular appreciation for the beauty of male buttocks, or he had particularly callipygian models, or both. This link is the best I could do in finding a photo of the buttocks in question, as most people seem to photograph the statue from the front for some reason.

    https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-captain-parker-statue-on-battle-green-lexington-green-lexington-massachusetts-116104008.html

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