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Kings in Their Castles: Photographs of Queer Men at Home Hardcover – September 6, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 92 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299211509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299211509
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This collective portrait of gay urban artists, writers, musicians and designers suggests "gay men are actually more interesting with their clothes on"-an invigorating perspective, especially considering that bookstore shelves are practically buckling under the weight of gay-themed photo collections that focus on the sculpted, semi-nude male form. Atwood's photographs are portals into the everyday existence of gay men within "their own carefully constructed spaces" (read: their homes); whether it's writer Michael Cunningham biting his nail, deep in conversational thought, artist Ross Bleckner yawning in his studio or DJ Junior Vasquez contemplating garbage on his rooftop, Atwood documents the rare, capricious moments that transform his famous subjects into the familiar and the accessible. In the foreword, author Charles Keiser (Gay Metropolis) acknowledges that Atwood, at times, "arranges" his subjects, as with the photo of filmmaker John Waters packing fake food in a suitcase, but the point of his work is not to "imitate life, but to clarify it, by making it more vivid." Shot primarily on 35 mm with minimal cropping, the 71 portraits included here often include both floor and ceiling to give the viewer as much of the subject's environment as possible. The technique challenges the eye without sacrificing balance, particularly in the shot of drag queen Hedda Lettuce-backed by her wall of wigs- fending off her dog as she is about to leave for a performance. Atwood's subjects rarely look at the camera, and yet even the portraits of lesser known performers and artists shimmer with emotion and intimacy.
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Review

“Refreshing clarity and modesty.”—New Yorker

“Like a modern-day Gainsborough, [Atwood] allows the details of an environment to illuminate and suggest things about the personality inhabiting it. Along the way, he’s become privy to the weird and wonderful cribs of many of today’s most intriguing gay personalities.”—Genre

“Marvelous photographs that capture our idiosyncrasies and obsessions.”—Tony Kushner

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The photographer Tom Atwood writes in his "Artist's Statement" that he wanted to do a book of color photos of clothed gay men in New York who live in apartments. The photographs should balance both the portrait of the individual with his environment. He describes this book as a "miscellaneous catalogue of personalities and living spaces." The models come from a variety of professions: writers, artists, composers, designers, interior decorators, attorneys-- John Waters, Edmund White, Ned Rorem, John Ashbery, Edward Albee et al. Most of them are collectors of practically any and everything: books, crosses, musical instruments, paintings, photographs, porcelain poodles, wigs, etc. Some of the subjects arrange their "stuff" well while others do not. I could not be in Joe Holtzman's kitchen (p. 42) for more than five minutes without jumping out the window. On the other hand, the apartment of Eric Bernhoft and Peter Mintun (p. 15) is most inviting.

The photographer in 70 frames or so manages not to repeat himself at all or even come anywhere close to repeating himself, no small feat. Some of my favorites are that of Billy Basinski (p. 64) where the model is seated on a sofa in front of floor-to-ceiling windows with beautiful light streaming in, Andrew Solomon (p. 61) in a beautiful but claustrophobic shot and Christophe Le Gorju (p. 39) where the model is standing to one side of a window which makes a beautiful Modrian-like grid. The most unusual living space has to be that of Tobi Wong (p. 31) which is described as being an eight by nine foot apartment.

A friend of mine used to say that regardless of how diverse the objects were, that you could hang anything together on a wall so long as you grouped them. This book of very fine photographs perfectly illustrates that theory.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rick Thomas on December 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
So refreshing to see a gay photography book that is thoughful, insightful, not obsessed with young bodies, and at the same time absolutely gorgeous.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Forrest on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A compelling, gorgeous book - totally unique. Gay and straight readers alike will be captivated by the interior images so beautifully displayed in this newly published addition to the photography genre. While by no means a book on interior design, the spaces depicted will be a source of fascination to readers who delight in viewing interesting homes. The human subjects, too, are intriguing. Alternately calm and kooky, they don't dominate the photographs, but are essential to the composition. A thrilling read. (Or, rather, experience.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Recipient on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gorgeous portraits - full of emotion and complexity. I originally bought this book because I was interested in the fashion celebs - Todd Oldham, As Four, Simon Doonan, John Bartlett, etc, but all the other celebrities in the book - John Waters, Edward Albee, Michael Cunninham - certainly don't hurt, either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Tom Atwood is a photographer with seemingly a bottomless pit of imagination. First, he has elected in KINGS IN THEIR CASTLES to focus on the home lives of famous gay artists, a fact that suggests there is a lot of trust that formed the base for this project. And second, Atwood's ability to create near stage-like images form the most ordinary settings is worth the concept of this book. These are very beautiful photographs of not only famous men in the world of literature, filmmaking, music, dance and visual art, but also of the atmosphere and time surrounding the period of this project. The results are operatic in nature, yet warmly human on every level.

The oddities of each of his chosen subjects include their collections of art and gadgets, pets, photographs of importance to each, and other bits of bizarre paraphernalia that enhance the carefully constructed settings. Here are the homes and personalities of John Waters, John Ashbery, Edmund White, Michael Cunningham, Joel Schumacher, Ross Bleckner, Ned Rorem, Edward Albee, Billy Basinski, Hedda Lettuce (the drag queen), David Del Tredici, Tommy Tune - and more. These men have contributed enormously to the world of culture and it would be difficult to find a finer homage to them than this daring and artistically successful book. Grady Harp, December 11
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