Public (Art) Erections: When Is a Statue Too Gay?

9.7.2011

By Jerry Portwood

So now people are arguing that limp dicked statues are gay? Over at Hyperallergic, Claire Breukel reports that “Dub poet Mutabaruka found it necessary to argue, in a public contribution on the subject, that the statue ["Emancipation Monument"], which represents a woman and a man, both nude standing in a pool of water and looking upward as a symbolic representation of the spiritual emancipation from Slavery, was ‘gay’ because the male figure did not respond sexually to the presence of the naked female figure,” explains Veerle Poupeye, Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

As Paddy Johnson at Art Fag City points out, "dicks are hard" to get right when it comes to sculpture. (And we're also wondering: Since it's made of stone,doesn't that already imply that the male membe is somehow "rock hard"?) She quotes a passage from Picasso about a proposed sculpture of Stalin.

Picasso:

“And then too, I said to myself, why not a Stalin in heroic nudity? … Yes, but, Stalin nude, and what about his virility? … If you take the pecker of the classical sculptor … So small … But, come one, Stalin, he was a true male, a bull. So then, if you give him the phallus of a bull, and you’ve got this little Stalin behind his big thing they’ll cry: But you’ve made him into a sex maniac! A satyr! Then if you are a true realist you take your tape measure and you measure it all properly. That’s worse, you made Stalin into an ordinary man. And then, as you are ready to sacrifice yourself, you make a plaster cast of your own thing. Well, it’s even worse. What, you dare take yourself for Stalin! … After all, Stalin, he must have had an erection all the time, just like the Greek statues. … Tell me, you who knows, Socialist Realism, is that Stalin with an erection or without an erection?”

I started to think: Just because a statue like this Botero male nude (located in New York City at the Columbus Circle Time Warner Center) has a pointy, seemingly aroused penis, does that somehow make it less gay? It certainly doesn't seem to stop all the people who grap and wank it (causing it be a polished bronze).

It's all enough to wonder when people will ever get over having public nude statues and realize it's not about sex but about the artistic decision to represent the beauty of the human form. But we do still remember (and appreciate) when bloggers were looking for the GAYEST statues in the country—and even had a contest to spot them.

Tags: Popnography
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