Are You a Voyeur? Become an Artist and Do It for a Living!

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”261″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Call it “polishing the pearl”, “choking the chicken”, “the five-knuckle shuffle”, “petting the family jewels” or ”double-clicking the mousse”, (good grief!)  there’s something to be said for finding self-love in the hallowed arena of high art. We delve deep into the records of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid for such gems. In homage to February’s Color of Love, here is an ode to going solo in the – ambidextrous – hands of artists and provocateurs Egon Schiele, Gustave Klimt, Salvador Dali, and Vito Acconci.

The DIY is a natural phenomenon found in popular music. Cyndi Lauper’s croons in She-Bop:

 

I’ve been picking up a new vibration

…I want to go south and get some more

…They say I better stop or I’ll go blind…”

 

A party for one finds itself in comedy television and cinema. Hapless character George Costanza, in an episode of Seinfeld, finds Glamour magazine and makes “an amusement park of his body”. Actor Ben Stiller, in the 1998 movie “There’s Something About Mary”, plays the lovelorn Ted.  Equipped with magazines, – Glamour? –  he spanks the monkey. His vigorous ejaculation finds its’ intended target on Cameron Diaz – albeit in the form of hair gel.

Egon Schiele is no stranger to erotic bedroom indiscretions and does quick work in Reclining Woman (1918). He employs an unbroken undulating line that pulsates from top to bottom. A reclining woman, in a diagonal composition, holds her left forearm above her temple. Her breasts blissfully point left and right while her hand reaches down to pleasure herself. The singular gesture is our focal point.

The Austrian painters were the provocateurs of their day. Heat emanated from their studios in the form of the centuries’ most erotic paintings. We catch a glimpse of one artists’ quiet meditation and see this in the sensual handling of line in the work of Gustav Klimt:[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”263″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

The figure in “Reclining Nude” lies lost in reverie…

 

The figure in “Reclining Nude” (above) lies lost in reverie, her head tilted back. Klimt’s line is a touch angular in comparison to Schiele’s more cursive approach. Klimt’s model is lean while Schiele’s is buxom.  In “Reclining Nude with Drapery (below), Klimt uses the circular shapes to indicate pattern and employs a soft ghostly line, a faint suggestion.  The figure occupies the right side of the page. Her hand reaches down to touch a bevy of pubic hair.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”265″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”269″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Artist Salvador Dali depicts a whimsical portrayal in the surreal “Face of the Great Masturbator.” Amorphous shapes stretch horizontally across the canvas to reveal a face evocative of landscape. He employs a lively palette of mustard, royal blue, pink and grey.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Symbolism abounds. A large head, face down, is reduced to eyelashes, nose and cheekbone.  An incongruously upside-down grasshopper hangs below while a blue sky abounds. The eye travels left to right. As in an orgiastic wave, the façade transforms into the nude bust of a woman who buries her nose into her lover’s torso. The supple bud of a cala lily lies cocked and unfurls and flares below.   Hollows and rounded caverns keep the eye in play.

The ME-Decade of the 1970’s goes a step further in reimagining the DIY as “performance piece” and brings us to a different kind of landscape in Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed”. Sonnabend Show January 1972 was a major work comprising documentation of three linked performance installations of which Seedbed was the most famous. Void is any inkling of romance or suggestive symbolism. The language employed is impolite, even vulgar. The artist takes his performance to a new level by employing camera and audio and an all-encompassing environment in situ. Masturbation and voyeurism go hand-in-hand in an interactive piece that forces the unsuspecting gallery-goer to act as participant:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1518022445150{padding-right: 75px !important;padding-left: 75px !important;}”]

In January 1972, Acconci staged one of the decade’s most notorious performance art pieces at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo. Gallery visitors entered to find the space empty except for a low wood ramp. Hidden below the ramp, out of sight, Acconci masturbated, basing his fantasies on the movements of the visitors above him. He narrated these fantasies aloud, his voice projected through speakers into the gallery: He spoke into a microphone: ‘My voice comes up from under the floor: “you’re pushing your cunt down on my mouth… you’re pressing your tits down on my cock… you’re ramming your cock down into my ass… you’re bending your head down, over me . . . I’m pressing my eyes into your hair” (Now and then, you can hear me come: I’ve done this for you, I’ve done this with you, I’ve done this to you…)’ Seedbed was a seminal work that transformed the physical space of the gallery through minimal intervention to create an intimate connection between artist and audience, even as they remained invisible to one another. (quoted in Gloria Moure, Vito Acconci: Writings, Works, Projects, Barcelona 2001, p.154).

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”277″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]New York Times journalist Randy Kennedy records his take:

“The piece became a touchstone of performance art in part because of its sheer outlandish audacity. But it also underscored Mr. Acconci’s abiding interest in art that did not exist as an object set apart from the world, in a frame or on a plinth, but as something deeply embedded in everyday life:

 

 “I wanted people to go through space somehow, not to have people in front of space,

 looking at something, bowing down to something…I wanted space people could be involved in.”

–  Vito Acconci, Performance Artist and Uncommon Architect,

Dies at 77, New York Times, April 28, 2017

 

And there you have it. The artist as voyeur, provocateur and Svengali. Championed for setting their “radar finely tuned to an existential unease that pervaded…society”.  In the hands of these artists, whacking off is now high art recorded forevermore in graphite, oil paint, audiovisual. These artists leave an enduring legacy to this most natural and benign of acts.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Uncommon Alchemy

SLIDE 1: “momentum’s nursery…” handcut vintage paper collage (2020) 10” X 6 3/4” SLIDE 2: “an eruptive dismay…” handcut vintage paper collage (2020) 5″ x

Justin Barrie Kelly, Gold Medal for Excellence, found object, assemblag, contemporary art, Welsh artist, sculpture, Low relief, Wall hanging, Sculptural relief, Collage

Wickedly Welsh

“Gold Medal for Excellence” . Image courtesy of the artist. Wickedly Welsh In the Studio with Artist Justin Barrie Kelly @justin_barrie_kelly   Fascination for geometry