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A collection of over one hundred and eighty fine art nude photographic portraits of men captured in the classical tradition of mythologised heroism and the sometimes grandiose and dramatic poses that entailed, shot in an array of contemporary, post-modernist, neo-classic and painterly environments, in both colour and warm toned black and white, reminiscent of the influences being evoked and in the tradition of fine art film photography
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When I first explored Europe many years ago, I was astounded by the eroticism as well as the preponderance of unembarrassed male nudity in public art and sculpture.
The very first time I sauntered along London's Millbank on my way to the Tate Britain Museum, I was confronted by two writhing naked men tying a poor woman to a bull, and then found myself staring up through the leaping legs of another naked man carrying a woman's head! These are the statues that decorate one entrance, The Death Of Dirce and The rescue of Andromeda, which depicts Perseus with Medusa's head.
Experiencing these was awesome ( in the literal sense of the word), because not only were they haunting and erotically charged sculptures , but, as I quickly realised, they were accepted as part of the public art dialogue of a sophisticated culture, two of hundreds of erotically charged publicly naked and semi-naked men throughout great European cities like London and ignored by thousands of commuters each day.
The Death Of Dirce is itself based upon the exquisite classical sculpture, now called The Farnese Bull, itself dating from around 220 AD, on display in Rome. A 16th century pope had acquired it when his men found it while digging around Roman ruins in search of garden decorations , and Michelangelo evidently turned it into a fountain for the Pope's garden.
The Baroque period, and the incorporation of naked, lustful, heroic male dominated classicism into religious art (thanks partly to Medici influence and money), is something that always perplexed me as a child growing up in an austere Catholicism but surrounded by this orgy of imagery.
This nudity, captured in realistic painting and sculpture (the photography in its day) was scandalous when first unveiled. But it became highly sought after for church decoration. And it was copied and plagiarised around the world, eventually reaching 20th century Tasmania, where I was confused and aroused by it as a child, whilst the nuns and priests who schooled me, taught me to be ashamed of my sinful body.
It is strange today that we are socialised to feel embarrassment or repulsion at male genitalia, and the portrayal of the naked male as an object of sensuality in art film and photography is judged pejoratively as gay or homoerotic, when this is at odds with the public art which we inherited from the classical tradition, and which was resurrected by Christian Europe in the Renaissance. This was art created when our Roman and Greek predecessors, who we still revere in every other way, worshipped the full beauty of a male as one of the most important subjects of art .
Heroics explores this gap between heroic art and life, using the photo reality and mixing modern and classical references to replicate some of the drama inherent in the original art.
Something of my serious political purpose may be subsumed by the resultant theatricality that has about it more of the humorous kitsch surreality of a Fellini set, dispelling any awe I felt from staring up at the very serious sensuality of the statues outside the Tate Britain. But I called the books Heroics for a reason, and I also wanted to satirise the way European men have adorned and mythologised themselves and their physical courage, in art through the centuries.
Freeman's art nude portraits of sports stars and actors began appearing in the mid nineteen nineties in Studio Magazines' international publications Black And White, Sport and Blue. His work with Olympians is featured in the books The Sydney Dream (2000), The Athen's Dream (2004), and Sportbook (2003), published by Studio.
In 1996 he wrote the best-selling biography of Australian footballer Ian Roberts, (Ian Roberts: Finding Out, published by Random House in 1997).
In 2000, his work was featured in The New York Times art critic Robert Hughes' documentary about Australia Beyond The Fatal Shore.
Freeman's first monograph, Bondi Classic, was published to critical acclaim in 2003, and a best-selling series of books followed, including Bondi Urban (2005), Bondi Work (2006) and Bondi Road (2007).
Equally successful has been his recent Outback series, Outback ( 2008) ,
Outback Currawong Creek (2009), Outback Brumby (2010), and Outback Bushmen (2012).
The first Heroics was released in 2011
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Book Description Paul Freeman Publishing, 2013. Hardcover. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0980667542
Book Description Paul Freeman Publishing, 2013. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0980667542