Fleurs des males

Penises as literally the flowers of manhood, which can be collected into bouquets and other floral arrangements — an occasional theme in artworks that are light-hearted and charming rather than pornographic, intended to amuse rather than to arouse.

The occasion for this posting was a Facebook posting by Greg Parkinson yesterday about a 1982 exhibition “Extended Sensibilities: Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art” (an early exploration — almost 50 years ago — of the topic), which included one of these artworks:

(#1) The playful Dayglo Cockprint (1973) by Les Petites Bon-Bons

(I’m assuming that ths image can be displayed on WordPress on the Fine Art exemption from the usual constraints on the public display of genitals — that, plus the fact that what appear in  (#1) are highly stylized simulacra of penises, not images of actual penises.)

The exhibition and Les Petites Bon-Bons. There’s a website for the exhibition with photos of (I think) all of the works in it, plus, of course, commentary on the works in the context of what was then the emerging world of “homosexual art”.  (The exhibition took place October 16 – December 30, 1982, at The New Museum, 235 Bowery, NYC 10002.)

On the creators of (#1), from Wikipedia:

Les Petites Bon-Bons was a group of conceptual/life artists that originated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early 1970s. Their activities spanned the nascent gay activist movement, the international correspondence network and the Hollywood glitter rock scene. They are known largely by the work of Jerry Dreva and Robert Lambert, aka Jerry and Bobby Bonbon, and who achieved much of their fame by effectively manipulating major media outlets. [They managed, for example, to become part of the contemporary music scene without being musicians themselves.]

More fleurs des males. On this blog, in my 3/25/16 posting “The news for penises: a flower garden”, with a penis-garden fabric pattern (again, stylized simulacra of penises):


And then there’s my XXX-rated (but goofy) collage “Dick Bouquet”, aka “Crotchfruit”, #1 on AZBlogX here. This time I can’t show you the artwork here, because the flowers in the bouquet are photographs of actual penises (rather than stylized simulacra).

Fleurs des males in artworks, Fleur du Male the cologne. Both with a word play on the Baudelaire title (see below). Neither actually homoerotic, both suffused with gay/queer sensibility.

The cologne comes — no surprise — from the openly gay and often outrageous designer Jean Paul Gaultier. From the FragranceX site:


Fleur Du Male Cologne by Jean Paul Gaultier, Fleur Du Male is a unique floral cologne for men. While the flower elements give this fragrance a sweet, intoxicating quality like the first hints of spring, its rich, herbaceous notes exude masculinity. Its dry top notes are composed of petit grain leaf, which is derived from the bitter orange tree. The middle notes are made up of neroli, which blends spicy and sweet to end up smelling green like the outdoors after a rain. The base notes are an aromatic mix of chamomile and basil that give the fragrance its masculine tones that work brilliantly with the sweeter initial notes. This long-lasting cologne is perfect for the spring and summer.

This cologne was launched in 2007 by French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. While best known for fashion designs, which he first presented in 1976, he started launching perfumes in 1993. The perfumer behind Fleur Du Male was Francis Kurkdjian.

(This cologne is not to be confused with an earlier, quite distinct, Gaultier cologne Le Male, the topic of my 9/7/20 posting “Le Male, the men’s fragrance”.)

The Baudelaire. From Wikipedia:

Les Fleurs du mal (English: The Flowers of Evil) is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. First published in 1857, it was important in the symbolist and modernist movements. The poems deal with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.

Given the themes in the book, its title makes a good model for the word play in queer-suffused names for queer-suffused referents, Fleurs des males for artworks, Fleur du Male for a cologne — though Baudelaire’s specific foci ranged much more widely (and Baudelaire was not himself queer). From the Wikipedia article:

The principal themes of sex and death were considered scandalous for the period. He also touched on lesbianism, sacred and profane love, metamorphosis, melancholy, the corruption of the city, lost innocence, the oppressiveness of living, and wine. Notable in some poems is Baudelaire’s use of imagery of the sense of smell and of fragrances, which is used to evoke feelings of nostalgia and past intimacy

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