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Boys and girls in the demimonde
February 7, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Aneta Bartos is a photographer whose most recent show, Boys, features lush, pictorial images of young men masturbating in the Carlton Arms Hotel (and is on display at the same hotel). All of her work, aside from her commercial portraits, is explicitly sexual, including male and female nudity.

Boys is especially notable for the way Aneta Bartos depicts explicit male sexuality, harkening back to a tradition of fine art that is more regularly the province of gay men. Hyperallergic has more.
posted by klangklangston (31 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd describe it as "hazy" much more than "lush," but the interesting thing to me is that it seems more melancholy than anything. And I'm a big ol' prude in some ways, but am also kind of disappointed that they're not more explicit.
posted by psoas at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2013


A pox on your horizontal scroll galleries!

Apart from that, I really enjoyed the quiet, private qualities of the series. The article you've linked uses adjectives like "murky" and "haunting" but that's not what I got at all. I like how soft the images all felt to me.
posted by Mizu at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so it's what most people call "pictures". I guess that's not artsy enough.
posted by brokkr at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2013


In case anyone else was wondering about the odd-to-lay phrasing 'pictorial image', the wiki article on Pictorialism is very interesting. From there, Pictorialism is a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of "creating" an image rather than simply recording it.
posted by carsonb at 11:24 AM on February 7, 2013


I went looking at the pictures first. I am not a gay man, but all I could think by the end of the set was 'that was hot.' Came back here hoping for a bit more about the sexual depiction of males (didn't read the more inside) and was not let down. Great post, klang, thanks!
posted by carsonb at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2013


Wow, interesting post, thanks!
posted by agregoli at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2013


Flagged as 'regretting being at work.' I mean, I looked but I didn't get to really look. Thanks for this.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:35 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pictorialism is a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of "creating" an image rather than simply recording it.

That's about the worst definition of Pictorialism I've ever heard. Pictorialism usually describes photography which attempts to look like paintings or other 'pictures'. The idea that 'straight' photographs are not 'created' but simply 'recorded' is staggeringly naive.
posted by unSane at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2013


Head related to famous vulva found after 144 years.
posted by Nomyte at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2013


On non-preview, I realize that may have sounded like I was going to masturbate to these pictures of people masturbating. That is not what I meant to say.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:37 AM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am a gay man and while I think these are appealing, they all look sort of the same to me. Her other series of women look the same too. But maybe that's the weakness of web presentation, I imagine the canvases are more interesting. I do like how these images are somehow neither voyeuristic nor do they involve the artist. Instead they just seem like images of a private moment, with no particular relationship between the viewer and subject. Nice trick.

What's curious to me is these are not in any way gay porn. Nor are they much like the thin bits of gay classic homoeroticism in fine arts that we have. Frankly these look like a straight woman's sexual art of straight men, and that's an interesting thing we don't see much of.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's about the worst definition of Pictorialism I've ever heard.

Welp, that's Wikipedia for ya! What should I be reading instead, unSane?
posted by carsonb at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2013


It's a pity Wikipedia articles can never be improved, or rewritten.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


But maybe that's the weakness of web presentation, I imagine the canvases are more interesting.

The artist hung small-scale inkjet prints!

Frankly these look like a straight woman's sexual art of straight men, and that's an interesting thing we don't see much of.

Yes, you took the words right off my keyboard. I picked some bad slang working in a bookstore, and used to call the Romance section 'girlporn'. The (x)-porn configuration is common in my lexicon, which sort of sets aside sexual depictions for straight males as porn and everything else as only porn-ish.

It's kind of... exciting to see, like you say, straight woman's sexual art of straight men.
posted by carsonb at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Straight women like their straight men at the bottom of algae-filled ponds? The second image in particular reminds me of Millais's Ophelia.
posted by Nomyte at 11:51 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Frankly these look like a straight woman's sexual art of straight men, and that's an interesting thing we don't see much of."

That's pretty much exactly why I posted them.
posted by klangklangston at 12:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pictorialism was an attempt to position photography as fine art by using devices like soft focus to mimic painterly styles; this often involved allusions to explicitly connect photography with prior fine art. It was replaced by "straight photography," in which the fine art designation of photography was assumed and photography embraced modernist aesthetics. Alfred Stieglitz is the canonical example of the shift from pictorialism to straight photography.
posted by klangklangston at 12:14 PM on February 7, 2013


I really like the concept here, and the way the images are replacing original portraits hung in some of the rooms.

I do wish the images weren't so dark and murky, though!

The Carlton Arms Hotel, of course, is a bit dark and murky itself, and quite fitting for a spooky showcase, but I admit to some frustration that, as the artist was manipulating the images to achieve the desired look of portraiture anyway, she couldn't have lightened some of that pitch blackness as well, or made the contrast between light and dark greater.

As it is, on my Mac I can barely distinguish the figures in these.

I also hesitated to click on a link to nude photos entitled "Boys". I imagine bringing up that discomfort was exactly the reaction the artist intended, though.
posted by misha at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2013


....well, I can't get the galleries to work, but I expect it's interesting.

(someone needs to get some of these artists a UX consultant stat.)
posted by mephron at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with Nomyte on the bottom-of-the-pond look. It's more HP Lovecraft's sexual art of straight men (I'm thinking the tentacled squamous monstrosities are in the completely dark parts of the pictures).

I quite like them, but then again, I quite like HP Lovecraft. But because of that they come across to me as far more threatening than erotic, since I'm basically assuming the masturbation comes before they are sacrificed to the Elder Gods.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think they are pretty great photos - to me they feel submerged. Like someone giving themselves over to pleasure - to sink into it and be lost in it. They feel very private - but at the same time you don't feel like a voyeur - but the soft haze of pleasure enveloping both the subject and viewer.

Then again I may just be a dirty old man.
posted by helmutdog at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Needs more black light.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2013


MCMikeNamara: "I realize that may have sounded like I was going to masturbate to these pictures of people masturbating."

Which is what I've been doing all afternoon.
posted by gertzedek at 1:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Straight women like their straight men at the bottom of algae-filled ponds?
The same way I like my coffee.
posted by The otter lady at 2:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


and this is "art" and not "porn?" Ok...I get it....this is not porn...ami right?
posted by shockingbluamp at 3:43 PM on February 7, 2013


*Looks at title*

Are any of them sucking on each other at their demonstrations?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:02 PM on February 7, 2013


I really like the style of these (although not sure how I feel about putting them in apparently the same mental associations box as Fuseli) but the theme is really weird to me. Stuff like this puzzles me; I have no idea why you'd make art from people masturbating or paint someone's vulva or something.

Humans are just strange and probably too horny.
posted by byanyothername at 5:54 PM on February 7, 2013


I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:25 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like the style of these (although not sure how I feel about putting them in apparently the same mental associations box as Fuseli) but the theme is really weird to me. Stuff like this puzzles me; I have no idea why you'd make art from people masturbating or paint someone's vulva or something.

The artist might do it to celebrate her own sexuality, to transgress, to do something new, to comment on the male gaze ...
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:48 PM on February 7, 2013


I quite liked these. I mean, I have a kink for men masturbating, and I appreciated that there was somewhat of a variety (aka some hairy dudes, and one non-super-thin guy) (it would have been better with a wider range of male subjects is all I'm saying), but I liked the feel, the colours. The way that I usually see these sorts of works depicting some ridiculously thin, hairless white woman with tiny pert boobs and an animal mask with her hand over her vulva and instead got a bunch of men with erect cocks in hand (erect!).

In other words, I liked the contrast with the rest of her work.

I am so sick of fucking photographers who restrict themselves to this stupid bloody template of thin and white, I really am. It can work, it can be awesome, but it is all the fucking same now. If I open a portfolio and it's some artistic nude of a thin white girl, I shut that shit down. So overdone, no matter how you transgress. An erect cock? I'll probably keep scrolling.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:27 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like that she captured a hint that male masturbation has an element that is beyond the simple pleasure of relief (I can't speak for female masturbation).
posted by Goofyy at 5:33 AM on February 8, 2013


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