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It is impossible to separate out the history of representations of the naked male from the history of gay male culture, sensibility, or erotica. From the statuary of classical Greece to Michelangelo's David to the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, the nude male form has signified for gay men not only sexual desire but homosexuality itself.
David Leddick's The Male Nude is an almost 800-page survey of the nude male in photography of the past century that presents us with the changes in body type, beauty, and sexual affect that have occurred over the past 100 years, but with evolving notions of "art" and "culture" as well. From Victorian prints of strong men to the "health" photos of the 1940s and '50s to the works of contemporary artists such as Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, and Nan Goldin, David Leddick charts the evolutions that the male body--and gay culture--have taken for ten decades. --Michael Bronski
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