INDEX:Gallery One: Click Here
Gallery Three: Click Here
Gallery Four: Click Here
My View on Good Art: Click Here
"Hercules and Cacus"
by Baccio Bandinolli, circa 1530 C.E.
Piazza della Signoria
As the 20th Century progressed through the 1920's and 1930's photography improved and a new category of men began to show up in nude pictures: military men. The same boys who splashed naked in country ponds went off to The Great World War and frolicked nude in barracks and showers. They probably did not know Roman soldiers had done the same 1900 years before them. Unlike Roman soldiers, however, twentieth century soldiers had cameras, and there were always photographers and men who would gladly take their pictures. Hundreds of pictures of nude service men can be found from the twenties. Here is one who may have been a World War I "Dough Boy".
Frequently, the photographers fell back on the old ruse of showing the men trying to be manly by holding some masculine prop. Others make no effort to do anything but show off their youthful, nude bodies and large penises. Some stare lustfully into the camera, and one has to wonder what thoughts the photograph put in youth's mind before snapping the picture.
Men wrestling nude continued its run of popularity. Since wrestling does not traditionally take place between naked men, a homoerotic theme has to be assumed. These Wrestlers are without doubt posing for a homosexual market which was fast developing. This market grew in the 1930's under the skilful photography of men like the Ritter Brothers and George Platt Lynes. When the world was in the Great Depression, some enterprising gay men began a mail order business of nude males. One dollar would get delivered in a plan brown envelope a nude picture like The Swinger or for the more exotic, Man with Tattoos. It was only a matter of time until photographs began to appear of men involved in the sex act.
The 1940's & 1950's
After the Second World War, many soldiers came home, took wives and started the "baby boom." Other returning men had found their experiences overseas a sexually liberating experience as seen in End of WW II Pictures. For them, farm women in Ohio and Iowa were not as exciting as city men in Chicago or New York. To be sure, many gay men did return and dutifully take a wife, but while their bodies performed sex heterosexually at night, their minds were gay day and night. Countless times have gay men made love to a woman while thinking of their best buddies, favorite sports player, or movie star. Their sexual needs continued to supply a demand for nude male photography. One of the early sets of post war photos featured Two Sailors . The market for post war nude males continued, and by the mid 1950's former service men could get even better and larger photos of nude military men as in Sitting Sailor.
Five years after World War II, photography of nude men took a noticeable change from make believe straight, he-man photos to artistic pictures undeniably gay in content. While magazines like Playboy were taking the straight world by rage, an equally startling revolution was taking place in male pictures that were aimed straight at the crotches of gay men. The pictures hit their mark, and photos of muscular men proliferated sometimes reflecting current movie heroes, as does this 1955 photo where the model wears a cowboy hat reminiscent of James Dean in the movie Giant. Other nude picture took an artistic twist as in the Herbert List's 1948 Photo.
Gay photography was ahead of the curve when it came to civil rights. If the model in this 1950 photo grew up in the southern USA, he attended segregated schools, African American. No more blurred out faces and crotches. This photo by Bruce of Los Angeles has two shots of the model's penis. One is the real thing, and the other a perfect shadow of his male member. This final photo from the fifties would seem to have been the inspiration for Tom of Finland's drawings. These Cow Pokes look ready for some western fun.
The 1960's & 1970's
Maybe the less said about the 1960's the better. For starters, it has been suggested that the decade came in late, and we lived in an atmosphere of cold leftovers from the 1950's until the last of 1963 when John Kennedy was assassinated which was followed by the killings of Robert Kennedy, Martin L. King, Jr., and about 65,000 American service men in some previously unknown country called Viet Nam. By the middle of the 60's, a line had been drawn in the sand with the older people, politician, and businessmen on one side of the line, and young people armed with flower power, rock concerts, pot, and raw sex on the other side. Money, politics, and religion joined forces on the conservative side, but the young people had something stronger on their side, the future. It was a New Age.
While youths were rocking with their new music and rolling in and out of bed, it was as if they had discovered sex. Certainly, they brought sex from under the covers and gave it exposure not known since ancient Rome. Art, which had always extolled beauty, began to explore new possibilities in the 60's. While youths wore garlands in their hair and made love in the clover in front of God and cameras, nude male photograph took a news twist: Dressing Down And few were shocked to see the pictures of men with Hardons!
In the closing years of the 60's nudity of man was elevated to a new level by the theater. The Broadway show HAIR was a smashing success. It toured the country, the world, and was made into a movie. Everyone flocked to theaters to see the frontal view of a naked man which was done in dim light and was so brief that anyone who sneezed may have missed it. Those who saw it left the theater humming "This is the Age of Aquarius" believing a new world was birthing. Hair was followed by Oh Calcutta, an off Broadway play. In the opening scene the entire cast of a dozen or so actors and actresses lined up facing the audience and took off all their clothes. We were aghast. We were shocked. We loved it! And the play was all down hill after the opening scene. But live male nudity had been presented before thousands of people, and the sky did not fall. Life went without skipping a beat.
As far as nude pictures were concerned, drastic changes started occurring. Before the 1960's no male frontal nudity was ever published in any magazines other than those aimed at a gay market, National Geographic, Nudist Material or four hundred year works such as those of Michelangelo. To see a drawing of a naked man, you had to go either to a museum or to a church! In the 1960 and 1970's many straight men wanted to get naked in front of a camera. Worst, a dozen or so FEMALE photographers came on the scene to photograph nude males. It was as if pictures of naked men had been wrenched from the hands of gay people! The response of the homosexual community was bemused humor and self-congratulation for being, as always, ahead of the curve when it comes to the taste of the straight world.
The greatest change of the era was a move to colored photography. With color came new possibilities. Hairy chests photograph a lot better in color, and it took a while for men raised on pictures of smooth chested men to adjust to men with hair. With coming of photos of hairy, naked men came the discovery of "bears," and a whole new "sub" culture was formed in gay society.
Color photos also had the appearance of being more "user friendly." Naked men in color were somehow more "cuddly," less stark, and not as artistically cold. They had the "boy next door" quality assuming one ever saw the boy next door naked. In no time naked men in full color would be appearing by the thousands on birthday, greeting, holiday, and even Christmas cards.
Conspicuously missing in nude men photos were photos of older men. Some future civilization looking only at photographs of men prior to the 1980's may conclude that there were no older men in the entire world before that date! To get a photo of a naked older man, you had to take one yourself. Fortunately, a man name Land had invented a camera that took and developed pictures almost instantly. The world beat a path to the stores which sold them. Tens of thousands of home photos were taken of naked men, young and old, many of which were of the sex act. Never had the camera's eye witness such sights. Unfortunately, the quality was not very good and soon faded. Due to the graphic nature of the photos, most were kept hidden, and some of the most interesting photos ever taken were thrown out or are hidden in closets and attics around the world.
The 70's ended with photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe (Mr. 10 ½) and Andy Warhol (Torso) whose work raised the art of male nude photos to a new level. With photos such as these being on public display, we closed the 1970's confident that the coming decade would be far better than the previous two.
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