Yesterday I took a trip to the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art which is the ONLY space in Manhattan dedicated to LGBT art in all its various forms (drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, etc.)
I’ve always had a fascination with erotic art ever since I was a teenager and stumbled across a Tom of Finland collection in a Border’s at some mid-western mega mall. In fact, when I was seventeen I bought the pocket collection of Tom’s work at Barnes and Noble with my Christmas money and smuggled the cube of books back home in my parka so my father wouldn’t find out! Needless to say the bathroom in our house was occupied for several hours thereafter ; )
(If only Michelangelo and Tom had shared studio space…)
I think my ultimate attraction to homoerotic imagery and art isn’t just the fact that it gives the viewer a boner. An erection isn’t that hard to come by (rim shot please) in our present time when sex is so readily available in so many different medias. However, truly successful erotic art gives its viewer both a visceral and an aesthetic boner. Its the perfect melding of artistic technique and graphic, viscerally charged images that satisfies a person’s need for physical beauty and for physical release:
Still Life with Boner…
…Actually this is Carlos by Peter Hujar on display at the Leslie Lohman.
What I also loved about this particular trip to the Leslie Lohman was that I learned about more fantastic erotic artists from the pre-Stonewall era such as Neel Bate–aka “Blade”–and George Quaintance. To me, as a gay man growing up in post-Stonewall, post-AID’s epidemic American society I am so humbled to learn about the men (as well as the women) who literally risked their freedom to unabashedly create depictions of homosexual life ranging from the beautiful to the graphic to somewhere in between.
And on a lighter note, it also reassures me that gay men seem to always have been fascinated by cock ; )
I am the proud owner now of a small printed collection of Neel Bate’s work entitled The Barn, 1948, and More Dirty Pictures available at the Leslie Lohman Gallery for just $10.
Bait by Bate
And if you want more information about the Leslie Lohman Gallery, click here.