beyond desire : unbound

In our society which rewards hard vulgar glamour, pixelized abstractions of the fetish and negates the value of sublime soft beauty, is it possible to escape the cheaply profane? Is modernism’s purpose the destruction of beauty and the pursuit of the ugly?…

Duchamp. Etant Donnes. Image:

Beyond desire. Self contained if boldly naked. Robert Graham’s classic period of sculpture are not nudes passively waiting to be deconstructed, cannibalized piecemeal by eager eyes, dismembered by the cutting edge of the male gaze.Aloof. Inaccessible. A woman’s natural superiority to man? Probably. The female body is felt to be more inwardly alive than the male counterpart. A vital elan, a magic,  that the male body does  not possess. The nude as we know it has been Hollywoodized, spectacularized into pornography. Soft-core sterility is the form its decadence takes, violent kitsch into the realm of the sensation saturated representation; constructions of the material nude as something stimulating to the male gaze resulting in narcissistic displays of herself as object of desire, chintzy, superficial cuteness.

Robert Graham. Heather---I am arguing that Graham rejects the male figure because it does not and by nature cannot adequately embody and express the creative spirit of life as convincingly as the female body. Michelangelo has the opposite point of view, in part because he thinks the female body is a less successful creation than the male body. That is, God did a better job with the male body which is after all the first and primary body (which is why Michelangelo is attracted to it) than the female body. It is a second-rate body, a botched afterthought to the male body, and ugly compared to its beauty. But Michelangelo is missing the point of the female body: without its capacity to give birth which makes it the site of primary creativity there is no life, in nature and in art. --- Read More:

They’re beyond desire, and beyond Graham’s desire, however desirable they obviously are, if only for their youth and they’re always young, and Graham’s eye always grows young when it looks at them, their intercourse consummated in ageless art. They are not sexually exhibitionistic, but always self-contained however boldly naked. Even when they vigorously exercise, with a spirited intensity that seems an end in itself, they remain peculiarly detached from their own nakedness, and indifferent to the male glance that tries to keep up with their movement, their seemingly inexhaustible energy. Graham’s hand seems to model them as swiftly as they move, but they always seem to escape his touch, much the way Daphne escaped Apollo’s grasp, her body abandoning human form to rejoin nature, indicating that she was pure instinct all along driven by forces greater than herself, natural forces that lend her their greatness and power, that she embodies in the majestic integrity of her beauty. Read More:

---He possesses woman artistically rather than sexually, for only by artistically identifying with her can he become as vitally creative as she is by nature, and thus keep his own creativity vital, and with that make art that will be fresh, alive, high-spirited, and young forever as his female models seem to be. Graham is not another Pygmalion, busily sculpting an outwardly beautiful woman worthy of his love, but obsessed with woman’s inner perfection: the inherent creativity of her body. The capacity to give birth is natural to woman, and to give birth to art the male artist must become a woman in spirit, which is why she is the muse that traditionally inspires the male artist’s creativity his own dissociated or split-off female and creative side that becomes an integral part of him again when he makes art under her spell.--- Read More: image:

The negative view of women in the arts owes a burden of credit and responsibility to Michelangelo who reveled in base homosexual bashing of the female figure. An assertion of his won superiority over women, they tended to be represented as lithe males with breasts. He was insensitive to the female body, regarding it somehow as disjointed and a bit absurd, not “natural” like a male, and in fact a freak of nature that merited whatever misogyny could be projected at it.

---Michelangelo. Bound Slave---Read More:

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