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Posted in Art Papers, Opinion by Adele Todd on October 12, 2007

Giving more thought to the female gaze, I thought about when in the history of Art did men get the most representation. The period of Aegean, Greek and Roman Art comes to mind. Here was a time when male beauty was at its peek. So much so that it is almost impossible to think of male beauty in any other terms. Recently when the movie 300 came to the screens, the reflection on Greek beauty was so acute that the story almost became lost in the biceps and triceps of the actors.

Female artists have the opportunity to look at men the way men have looked at women for centuries, yet for many female artists the gaze is not as thought provoking to want to capture the male form. I know in my instance when I painted my friend Sean, my objectives were pure, I wanted to test my abilities and to immortalize him at the same time. Do I wish that I had painted more men? I do not feel a sense of regret but a sense of future opportunity. The last man that I wanted to paint was actually a dynamic young industrial designer who was written up in British Vogue for his amazing set designs. I wanted to get in touch with him and do drawings. He had an Aubrey Beardsley vulnerability that I found fascinating, a lovely contrast between beauty and awkwardness.

Sometimes I have seen men who I would prefer to photograph than to draw, for example a tall albino in the New York subway a few years ago, (another type of beauty completely underexposed) I have been asked recently to paint someone, but this is more about their own vanity. I am interested in the challenge however, as I have not picked up my brushes to do such a thing in more than a decade.
What shall encourage the sitting? Ultimately it would largely depend on a camaraderie between artist and sitter. There is something about the whole process of painting someone. The person has to have their own sense of themselves and how they want to be represented, and the artist has to literally draw out of the person something that connects beyond the moment. This level of intimacy is possibly why so many artists had relationships with their models. But ultimately it is the relationship that superceeds the moment that counts,the one between the painting and the viewer.

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