Muybridge Wrestling

male anatomy study through history

through the ages not much seems to have changed in the honorable craft of depicting the male form accurately. First a huge amount of talent and spiritual strenght and creative originality is needed, but that cannot come to flourish without years of study, both in anatomy as in crafts, tools and materials, and then training, training, training.
Even Michelangelo had to work at it.
He's thrown out many a failed attempt of almost finished statues
Like the Atlas to the right here.
Sometimes because there was a vein of undesired color in the marble,
sometimes they broke off at the feet,
and sometimes he was just not satisfied with his own sculpting
or his vision of the subject changed,
and also because he had to adhere to the wishes of an employer,
he personally did not agree with.

Rubens was not born with a golden paintbrush in his hand either.
Here we see he studied classic sculpture, Hercules in this case, too.
Farnese original Hercules ?
this is the exact same statue Rubens drew

a Little sidestep

The weird thing is that almost every
talented art student since the greeks until today
started his education with drawing male nudes,
and not one, but another one, and another, till they really got sick of them.
Which goes with good training we could argue.
The (lousy) argument was: as the male body has much more definition than a female one it is much more challenging to draw, so if you could do a male you certainly could do a female. Cost was mostly the real reason: females would have to be payed, while males could be drawn with a straw from the class of students. Another sensible argument was that a male would not arouse the students and they could concentrate purely on the form. Sensible only if there we no gay students, history proved that very a wrong supposition!

This art-education system goes on till this day and only gay-lib and women's-lib are starting to change things in some places.
I've been so unlucky as to have had classes at a pretty rich university, that could afford female models,
and not one, but another one, and another, till I really got sick of them.
If only . . .
I'd been to a poorer school I might have laid bare hidden talent and my future as an artist might have looked quite different.

collectie museum Dordt NL

Now I have been posing quite a bit for art classes in my younger years. Not because I needed the pay, which was almost nothing, but my exhibitionist nature was instrumental here. What I noticed was that most students tended not to put any effort in drawing the genitals correct and most made my dick smaller than it was. I'm not bragging here. I know I'm not Jeff Stryker, but pleez, I was not 10 years old back then either! Unfortunately (¿) no drawings remain to prove the point.

Felix Merites Amsterdam I got to know the actual room depicted above pretty good in reality as it was turned into the theater (Shaffy Amsterdam) where I set my first professional steps as light and set designer (and fell in love with a barman).

Study from the Atelier of the Master Jacques Louis David1814
not everybody complained that art education was a men's world
4 works from when classic studies were at their peak:
and it is no child's play either: The past century serious study of the craft of depicting man has been ridiculed and degraded, but it still ranks amongst the most noble things one can undertake in a life and claims back the space of stature it had during the century before, when photogtaphy had not stirred things up

right is the center court of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and next to that Hermes with baby Dionysus by Praxiteles
I'm only going on about it because I feel it is just so underestimated; it's just as much an effort as getting to gold medals at the olympics (now why am I stating that here and now? see my log.

It really is a serious business that requires a lifetime of surrender to these ultimate goals and I am not complaining myself either;
to know what I'm talking about here I did follow that same path: below is me filming at Allard Pierson museum Amsterdam

a fotograph here, why not? It is hard to stay chronological in this story, I flip through the ages here, but the main theme is the question : "what restricted artists to give the male body the attention it deserved?" Main restriction over the ages has been: religion. There are considerable periods where churches released the reigns somewhat untill there was a new urge to intervene, mostly triggered by disasters like the plague. Homo's were often the scape-goat. Their sinfull life had triggered the wrath of God . . ? Generally the rule was similar to the 'dont ask, don't tell' doctrine, known now from the US and UK army policies. If you thought you could cross that line chances were high worldly and clerical authorities in unison (inquisition) would act in the fiercest way, i.e. set a gruelling example; burning alive, preceeded by cutting of genitals and tongue.
Some say it's peanuts compared to standing firm in your beliefs in front of the inquisition, but every time has new and different boundaries: A guy who deserves the greatest respect in the field of bringing anatomy back into art education in a not restrictive manner is Thomas Eakins.

He was teacher at the Pensylvania academy of Fine Arts mid 19th century. Their anatomy studio's contained the largest collection of casts of antique sculpture on the American continent.
Where he caused an uproar and where he was eventually got fired because he used nude male models in his classes.

what's the fuzz all about anyway, not much dick to be seen in these.
one can learn a lot from science about anotomy, but learing the skill of drawing requires some more attachment with the a subject, more than plastercasts can offer.
Eakins indeed did have warm relations and was incredibly popular with both students and models, below Bill Duckett
and what it all adds up to you can see here:

wrestlers studywrestlers
and no, I didn't forget:

and to rap up: the most amazing boxers:

go on delftboys to the 19th century, the lobby, masterclass overview or links