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Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art Hardcover – May 1, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Examining mediums from sculpture and painting to public health brochures, this lavishly illustrated survey looks for-and finds-a lot more homoeroticism in American art than one might expect. Weinberg's inquiry isn't merely prurient; he shows how American artists' depiction of male beauty has evolved with societal values toward gender roles. While earlier artists like George Bellows or Jared French had to frame appreciation of the male form within a larger context like sports, work, or a historical tableau, more contemporary artists like Robert Mapplethorpe openly celebrated gay identity and male nudity. Some of the most memorable images in the book include luminous black and white photographs by George Platt Lynes, wittily satiric paintings by Paul Cadmus and the sensuously beautiful paintings by Bay Area artist David Park. At times, the author attempts to find homoeroticism in places where it doesn't seem to be located, like in the conceptual work of Felix Gonzales-Torres. Nevertheless, this book is an enlightening look at homoerotic art, and a must have for anyone interested in the subject. 84 color illus, 112 b/w
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Review

"This is a very smart and...sexy history of visual representations of male homosocial and homoerotic desire in American culture." -- Tony Kushner, February 16, 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810958945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810958944
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,660,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jonathan Weinberg approaches the topic of MALE DESIRE: THE HOMOEROTIC IN AMERICAN ART with the requisite credentials to support this fine book in any art circle. Not only is he a fine painter (unfortunately this book includes only one of the author's paintings), but he is an art historian of note, having served as both scholar and artist in residence at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and as recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002. Weinberg writes well, always with authority but with concurrent warmth that makes his presentation more like a fascinating novel than an art historian treatise.

After a terse but informative introduction explaining 'Male Desire' and the précis for this book, Weinberg divides his survey of art in all forms spanning from 1884 to 2003 in to seven interesting approaches: Water, The Man in Uniform, I Want Muscle, Measurement and Circles, Collaborators, The New Adam, and finally, The Age of Aids. In each chapter he shows the evolution of technique, social approach to male art, and individual artists who either painted homoerotic paintings or championed them or (in most cases) both. Weinberg tactfully uses references from artists' statements when possible and while negotiating the place of each artist in the fabric of the time in which each worked, he also enhances the reader's appreciation by commenting on each artist's technique - a factor not usually found in surveys such as this.

Of course it would be too voluminous to include ALL of the artists in America whose output could be additive to homoeroticism and Weinberg elects to choose fewer artists with multiple examples of each selected artist's work to demonstrate his points.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James M. Saslow on August 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Male Desire" is an excellent work of synthesis, marking a new plateau in the development of queer cultural studies. It gathers enormous amounts of previously scattered material about gay artists, as well as gay writers and other cultural figures, from Walt Whitman to the present -- and sometimes even identifies images by non-gay artists that have some gay interest. Weinberg has a knack for pithy phrases and metaphors, which help to organize his material both chronologically and thematically, and as a painter himself he is capable of good visual analysis and unusual, thought-provoking connections between very diverse types of art. All future writers on American gay culture will have to acknowledge and reckon with his broad conceptual framework.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tirza Latimer on August 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Weinberg's MALE DESIRE: THE HOMOEROTIC IN AMERICAN ART, like his two earlier books SPEAKING FOR VICE: HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE ART OF CHARLES DEMUTH, MARSDEN HARTLEY, AND THE FIRST AMERICAN AVANT-GARDE (1993) and AMBITION AND LOVE IN MODERN AMERICAN ART (2001), demonstrates the extent to which same-sex desire animates American visual culture. That the book's premise should not be widely taken as self-evident reveals the extent to which interpretive perspectives sensitive to the nuances of homoeroticism remain marginalized. Weinberg's analysis of a broad range of visual sources--from fine art to popular culture--is carefully contextualized, tightly conceived, and unfailingly convincing. As a writer, he expresses complex concepts in a voice that is both direct and clear. I highly recommend this book, which makes a unique contribution to the fields of visual studies, gender/sexuality studies, and American history, while exploring critical intersections among them.
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