Thursday, February 26, 2015

Theodore Gericault

The painting above is by French artisit Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault (1791-1824 Paris).  It is titled Nude Warrior with a Spear, ca.1816, and currently resides at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.    You would not be the first person, if you noticed that its diameter around, its color in comparison to his skin, and way that the naked man grips his spear, are all very phallic.  This will not be a surprise to fans of the artist.  Throughout his career, Géricault's artwork celebrated the heroic male by recognizing that a man's power includes his sexuality.   Below is a self portrait.
Géricault's work is usually marked by a notable absence of adoring semi-nude women placed in the background, something that many artists included in order to tamper-down the homoerotic imagery that they were portraying within their art.    
Géricault had entered the army and served for a time in the garrison of Versailles, where it is believed he became infatuated with the soldiers and their brute masculine beauty and muscular frames.  He was also impressed with the strength and powerful beauty of military horses.  It was at the Versailles palace stables that he gained his knowledge of the anatomy and action of horses (and perhaps a few stablemen as well).  His art work often depicts soldiers and the tense, erotic charge of energy between them.

Géricault had poor health for about a year before he died in Paris at the age of thirty-two. He left all of his things to another artist, Eugène Delacroix, pictured below.

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