The Male Form in Photography - Livres du Mois
For July's Livres du Mois I have made a collection of books on the male form in photography. I have previously written about some of the photographers featured in these books over the last year and a half but I thought I should put them all together in one place. The books include collections of individual photographers, complied by writers or selected by the photographers themselves, and some books that explore gay photography in history. We begin with German photographer Herbert List.
With an introduction by Stephen Spender the book includes 72 photographic plates by Herbert List.
Herbert List was a German photographer, who worked for magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Life, and was associated with Magnum Photos. His austere, classically-posed black-and-white compositions, particularly of male nudes, taken in Italy and Greece have been highly formative for modern photography.
The Essential Herbert List
"Herbert List's photography has become part of the classical canon of 20th-century pictorial art. By their metaphysical and visual presence, his pictures are as familiar to us and as influential as de Chirico's visions are in painting.
This monograph on List's oeuvre presents for the first time all phases of his creativity: the early fotografia metafisica; his Greece photographs blending Antiquity, Mediterranean light and Eros in visions of Classical Hellas; his sensitive homoerotic pictures; his artist portraits of the 40s through to the 60s; and the human interest photography of his late work."
Loving: A Photographic
History of Men in Love
"Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850-1950 portrays the history of romantic love between men in hundreds of moving and tender vernacular photographs taken between the years 1850 and 1950. This visual narrative of astonishing sensitivity brings to light an until-now-unpublished collection of hundreds of snapshots, portraits, and group photos taken in the most varied of contexts, both private and public.
Taken when male partnerships were often illegal, the photos here were found at flea markets, in shoe boxes, family archives, old suitcases, and later online and at auctions. The collection now includes photos from all over the world: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Japan, Greece, Latvia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Serbia. The subjects were identified as couples by that unmistakable look in the eyes of two people in love - impossible to manufacture or hide. They were also recognised by body language - evidence as subtle as one hand barely grazing another - and by inscriptions, often coded.
Included here are ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, glass negatives, tin types, cabinet cards, photo postcards, photo strips, photomatics, and snapshots - over 100 years of social history and the development of photography.
In these delight-filled pages, couples in love tell their own story for the first time at a time when joy and hope - indeed human connectivity - are crucial lifelines to our better selves. Universal in reach and overwhelming in impact, Loving speaks to our spirit and resilience, our capacity for bliss, and our longing for the shared truths of love."
Raymond Voinquel was a French still photographer who specialised in portraits, working on films and photographing film stars.
He devoted himself to male nude photography. Louis Jourdan and Jean Marais posed naked for him and he aimed to pay tribute to Michelangelo through other male nude photographs. These portraits are what he is now best known for. He worked with landscapes in the midst of night, always with his renowned sense of lighting. Women and men were not treated the same. As much as the women are defined by light, the men are defined by the dark. Lover of the beautiful, Voinquel developed a modern vision of the male body which made him the forerunner of many contemporary photographers.
"He was a photographer fascinated by the beauty of the male body, the men are elegant, enigmatic and beautiful while the women are distant, inaccessible, sweet, sensual. Manly or androgynous, the bodies photographed by Voinquel have the character of dreamed perfection found in his portraits. He builds his photographs, thanks to the science of lighting, the light is always skilfully dosed with great subtlety, to allow the nudes to emerge from the dark, to sculpt the bodies and soften the contours, the shapes. Lover of the beautiful, master of light, Raymond Voinquel has built a style, a work in which reality has become the mirror of his dreams, a photographic dream haunted by the ephemeral beauty of faces and bodies."
Man to Man:
A History of Gay Photography
"This volume is the first comprehensive study of homoeroticism and male homosexuality in the history of photography. Author Pierre Borhan provides a fast-paced overview of the principal themes of nineteenth- and twentieth-century homoerotic photography.
Man to Man puts photography made by, for, and of homosexuals into historical perspective. Nearly 350 works, those both well recognised and many unpublished, permit us to follow the thematic and aesthetic developments of amateur as well as professional photographers who preceded or reflected the transformations of norms."
George Platt Lynes:
The Male Nudes
"The elegant male nude photographs of George Platt Lynes, many never before published, from a newly discovered archive of negatives. George Platt Lynes was the preeminent celebrity portraitist of his day, shooting for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and creating distinctive photographs of iconic cultural figures such as Diana Vreeland, Jean Cocteau, and Cecil Beaton.
But he also produced a separate body of work, kept largely hidden during his lifetime: photographs of the male nude. Many of these photos were shot in the studio and, like his fashion and dance work, were painstakingly posed and lit. They have a cinematic allure that evokes 1940s Hollywood and the lost era of New York's cafe society. Many seem to illustrate some unwritten mythology. Others reveal private obsessions of the photographer, who was always alert to the sculptural qualities of a young man at his most vital.
This is the only Platt Lynes book to focus on the male nude images in a comprehensive and carefully considered manner. It is the first book to be published with the cooperation of the artist's estate, which has provided unprecedented access to institutional and private collections, including the Kinsey Institute and the Guggenheim Museum. The result: a trove of unpublished images that are sure to cause a sensation."
I adore the photographers in these books, their skill with lighting and their ability to capture beauty and intimacy. I'm also enamoured with books that reveal history that was hidden from society, secret lives and loves that went up against the world. I hope you have found something amongst these books that piques your interest. However if you would prefer something more demure then you may find something in The Library, although I can't guarantee you'll have any luck.