The breast-clutching gesture

(There will be a barely clad male model showing off his hot hairy body in Daily Jocks homowear ads; you have been warned. But otherwise this is, remarkably, a posting about art, in particular extraordinary public art)

The backdrop is yesterday’s posting “A remarkable table lamp” — about a “sculpture in bronze by George Sellers — one of his insect sculptures, in particular a magnificent staghorn beetle cast in solid bronze, on a walnut base, which Sellers has made into a lamp base”. Which I used as a proof of concept / principle, showing that it was now possible for me to post something, even with my swollen (but somewhat ameliorated) left hand, if I used my fingers on that hand gingerly. That posting was pretty bare-bones — no further illustrations of some of Sellers’s remarkable works — but it served its purpose, which was to demonstrate that I can once again post stuff, at least relatively short, uncomplicated stuff.

The current posting was intended as another relatively brief, easy affair, about a gesture, or pose, in a men’s underwear ad that happened by accident to surface on my desktop. But it led to that public art, in Fort Lauderdale FL. The two are unlikely to be connected, so there’s still a bit of a puzzle.

The original ad. A Daily Jocks e-mail ad of 6/30/21 — note the date — that popped up by accident during a search for entirely different things:

(#1) [ad text:] LOCKER GEAR: Low cut bottomless briefs made of premium breathable mesh fabric

As you’ll see, Locker Gear is the name of the underwear brand. Meanwhile, the model’s head is tilted back, with partially open mouth (snarling, aroused, pained, whatever), and his two hands are clutching at his breasts — but what for? As with his partially open mouth, the pose is open to many interpretations. Between the mouth gesture and the clutching of the hands, the image conveys great emotion directed at one thing or another: sexual passion, lamentation, offering his pecs, flaunting them, tearing at them, whatever.

At this point, it occurred to me that the theatrical gesture looked a lot like a heroic male statue, and I recalled that the photographers and art directors for these publicity photos are often art-school trained and given to using elements from art history in posing their underwear models. (I’ve looked at a number of examples in previous postings.)

I submitted this image to a Google Images search, and of course got a lot of republications of the Locker Gear ad. Rookie error: I’d left the logo in the photo, so the search picked up on that as the crucial thing.

The logoless ad. So I cropped the briefs out and tried again with this image:

(#2) This got me a lot of male nudes, many from visual porn, but no statues — because they wouldn’t match the submitted image very closely

Before I go on to the conceptual-search stage. let me satisfy some readers’ curiosity as to the bottomless nature of the briefs in #1. The rear view:

(#3) No clutching, no expression of emotion, just the bodypart

The conceptual search. “Find me statues of men clutching their breasts”, in several formulations. Eventually this pulled up a sculpture of a gigantic woman clutching her breasts — to pull them apart to reveal the interior of her body, a fern-filled plantscape you can walk through. Thrive by Daniel Popper. And this is a piece of public art. Words fail me.

From the My Modern Met site, “Giant Sculpture Opens Its Chest To Reveal a Fern-Covered Tunnel People Can Walk Through”, by Madeleine Muzdakis on 12/8/20 (note the date):

(#4) The 30-ft tall installation in situ

Multidisciplinary artist and sculptor Daniel Popper creates interactive public art installations which are often monumental in scale. The Cape Town-based artist’s work encourages audiences to contemplate diverse themes. Known for his installations blending sculpture and stage design at music festivals, Popper’s figurative sculptures have become iconic for the way they beckon the viewer to embrace their physical surroundings. One of his newest works, titled Thrive, will be a permanent public installation at Society Las Olas, a residential building in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The sculptural installation features an enormous figure ripping open its chest — like a fairy-tale giant come to life. Crafted in glass-fiber reinforced concrete, the sublime figure weighs about 14 tons and stands over 30 feet tall. The stunning structure also features a fern-adorned archway that viewers can walk through. The chest of the contemplative giant gently opens itself up, exposing its surprising green interior.

Given the dates (Thrive from 2020, the Locker Gear ad from 2021), it’s most unlikely that there’s any actual connection between the images. And the Locker Gear ad might have had no art-historical source, but was merely an emotionally fraught scene concocted to catch the eye of potential underwear customers. We just don’t know.


One Response to “The breast-clutching gesture”

  1. Lise Menn Says:

    The statue is fascinating. Also fascinating is that the detailed description of the very nurturing statue with a feminine face conspicuously omits mention of her gender.

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