Franz von Stuck Orpheus

A period that is very hard to document is that of Germany, or central Europe, before the second world war. At the turn of the century we find a very tolerant society, radiating from Wien, capital of the collapsing Central European empire, and München, still rich with centuries old feodal-agricultural structures. Power shifted to much stricter, more military Prussia and Berlin. At first tolerance was assimilated, but after the collapse of the Weimar republic repession fell in from all directions. This page tries to steer clear of judgements but does try to point out that the traditional uninhibited way the Germans looked at bodyculture and the way they used it in raising their youth in exploring comradship, nature and sports had a lot of beauty and was laden with what we could see as pretty homo-erotic signals. Much has been destroyed and I have to resort a lot to remaining (black and white) photographs. I hope I managed to get some impression on what life was like in those intriguing days.
Hans von Marées 3 männer Hans von Marees und Hildebrand
Aufbruch der Fischer 1873 Hans von Marees, 4 ages of ManHans von Marées
German Romantic Painter, 1837-1887
Hans von Marees best friend Adolf Von Hildebrand Hans von Marées best friend Adolf Von Hildebrand Hans von Marees
Karl Hofer, 3 Youths Bathing Ludwig von Hofman, Spring

Hans Zank, * 1889 Berlin † 1967 Falkensee

Luckily a lot of examples remain that radiate the freedom of expression,
but also the naivety and belief in the perfect democracy,
that was allowed to spread all over the emerging "Deutsches Reich" during the Weimar republic.

author unknown
not all artists drew from the classisistic traditions. In the early years there was still room for modernist influences:

Egon Schiele, selfportrait EgonSchiele, boys Wotruba sculpture made with limestone from: Mannersdorf !
Egon Schiele and Fritz Wotruba were prime examples of the modernist school thriving early 20th century in Vienna

Wotruba Pann Wotruba Torso @ Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.jpg Egon Schiele Self.jpg
also from book at Gemeentemuseum; can't remember name author, only that he committed suicide a week after making this painting of himself
Schiele was for some time under arrest for making too erotic work, but he did not live to experience the brunt of repression.
I must mention he was not predominantly homosexual; he drew a lot of women too.
Wotruba retreated to ever more kubistic, non figurative work as the years went on and National Socialism's thought grew ever more dominant these styles had to go underground, as they were considered degenerate and "jewish" art.

to the right here Schiele's Sebastian as a poster for his exhibition in 1915

below a self portrait

Egon Schiele Self.jpg

this is not a Schiele, but definitely belongs here
Egon Shiele Self StandingEgon Schiele Oranje Jas, poster for exhib at GM Den Haag 2004 Egon Schiele Loincloth
Arthur Volkmann Youth with Horse Albert Janesch, Watersport

I must fit these two brothers in:

They were not active in visual arts
but their writing has remained inspirational for many artists and works till this day.

below left we see Heinrich, who wrote the book shown left,
which later was the blueprint for the film that catapulted Marlène Dietrich's carreer
as a dike icon with her masculine attitude in "Der Blaue Engel"

Right below is Thomas Mann,
original writer of the book on unanswered gay love "Death in Venice"
that we all got to know through Visconti's film version
Marlene in der Blaue Engel Heinrich und Thomas(R) Mann
Tadzio, object of unconsumated love in Visconti's film version of 'Death in Venice'
Thomas fled Germany in 1936 and through te war years supported resistance with talks in German on the BBC

Franz von Stuck Guardian of Paradise 1889 Franz von Stuck Studie zum Phantastische Jagd

Von Stuck was instrumental and examplary in setting up a true Freikörperkultur way of working;
he held a very open studio in München and often had the press present while working with male models

the man himself at work in his studiodetail of the work, Sisyphos 1920 The model for Sisyphos.jpgBattle 4 Woman 1905 detailthe 2 models
National pride , severely dented after WW1 was boosted by glorifying old legend heroism and traditional rural life:

Ludwig Habich, Siegfried Sepp Hilz, rural triptice center part Sepp Hilz, rural triptice right part

Anselm Feuerbach, selfportrait Heinrich Berran, haymaker
the Nordic and Germanic races grew up much more relaxed and open about the naked body than the Anglo Saxons:

Frederick Walker, bathers
implanting new national values about nature and the beauty of the body could not start early enough:

book cover Christopher Isherwood bio What also cannot be omitted here is photography:
early 20th century figurative art remained under serious threat of the new technology of the 19 century,
which many saw as natural follow up of classic painting,
just as these days some see digital art takes its place in some sectors of film/photography,
model drawing and painting.
Most memorable here are the young romantic English artists
that were drawn to the relaxed gay and physical cultural climate
of Germany between the 2 wars:
most photos here are by Herbert List
Herbert List

Herbert List
Herbert List
anonymous Austrian fantasy about the Wandervoge anonymous Austrian fantasy about the Wandervogel
The 2 rare drawings above cannot be excluded.
They come from an Austrian gay pre-war illustrated article about youth fantasies and experiences in the Wandervogel youth camps.
This Wandervogel organisation, originally a-political and comparable to the boyscouts was later on completely encapsulated and taken over by the Hitlerjugend.

could be a Harry Bush too! bodyculture heroism honour and respect for these boys too SN bund für Leibesübung
and indeed it worked:
HJ poster.jpg HJ gathered at ralley, Nuernberg1938
It may look corney now, but these drills did forge allegiance untill an untimely but heroic death:

not a nice man, but he had style and as achitect of Nazi propaganda was the master! could fit in a Ted of Paris series heroism

not only masters at posterdesign
dressdesign was taken just as serious

could be Harry Bush
honour and respect for these boys too
Nazi uniforms were very cleverly styled and designed to have special erotic attraction not pitched to women,
but to men, which kept them popular with skinheads, in gay culture and as partydress to this day.

3rd Reich SS SA uniform Sun Harry SA uniform as sold in 2005 Waffen SS uniform as sold in 2005
Once in the forces, not all was as nice as it had seemed. Certainly the SA section of his forces under Röhm romantisized men-comradery. Their celebration of the naked body went sofar that it could no longer be camouflaged and was exposed as being nothing but homosexual. All was efficiently "ausgerottet" through rivalling, and much more "manly" SS forces.
Also see Visconti's the damned (trailer with commercial and some more trailers in the package).

SA uniform Leni Riefenstahl's Javalinplayer Leny Riefenstahl's Olympia movie
The Germans had the great luck of being nominated to stage the Olympics in 1936
even more lucky that the official Nazi Party cineaste, Leni Riefenstahl indeed had enormous talent!
In my darkroomdiaries summer 2004 issue, I presented the case
that the olympics have not been presented more openminded and uninhibited as in her production ever since.
especially the games in Athens, where they originated, made no effort at all in this field.
the ancient games were conducted with completely naked athletes,
the opening and closing ceremonies were a great disappointment in this aspect.

Mussolini stadium sculpture Arno Breker courage Arthur Kampf  steelworks
the 'Briefmarken' below appear courtesy of Martin of Holland, incredible source of resources; indispensable when it comes to any kind of collection . . .
glorifying 'einsatz zum Kriegsarbeit' Let's return somewhat again to homo-sensitive evidence
in german public sculpture and architecture:

Speer design
I'm not saying all the 3rd Reich produced was great, it is just what got out of these repressive and violent days more or less officially and survived.

Art has no conscience; I do not believe that, but still, I'm not complaining that the Nazi's placed nude males back in the sunlight. Here's an overview with work that remained of architect Speer and sculpturists Breker and Thorak.

for those who cant get enough: on summer 2002's edition of my darkroomdiaries is an illustrated report of my trip around the statues of Berlin and Potzdam

italian exampleglorifying 'einsatz zum Kriegsarbeit'
Kameradschaft by Thorak Der Verwundete in his own garden breker
relief left Kanzlerambt right Alexander the Great enlarges with click relief 2 relief 3 speer
thorak's statues were 'HUGE'

thorak at work in his studio he is under the human knee/horses right foot
Breker's Cocteau Thorak's Nietzsche Breker olympia prewar Breker himself en profil
here are a few more images that bring across the immense dimensions of these works

Thorak Denkmal front
Thorak working on theAutobahnarbeiterdenkmal
this fucking thing was pretty huge that's how it was supposed to look in place, but never did
both these artists were tried after WWII, but were acquitted and only sentensed to not practice their profession anymore. These sentenses were lifted ten years later allowing at least Breker to go on where he left off. He managed as before the war to get all the top German athletes to pose for him. He died in 1991

over 10 meter high horse-and-minder

Breker with model swimmer Walter Kush in'87
speer breker wagnerbust Breker's Decathlon Breker with his model Jürgen Hingsen
That's almost enough attention for the nazi period.
For more imagery I must refer to detailed studies within the masterclass, like the page on nazi sculpture.
Let's try to end with some of the more critical images
they obviously only showed up at the very end of the era:
Rudolf Jettmar, Abel's death
Because the painting on the left played an important role during the German occupation of the Netherlands it was acquired by the Rijksmuseum in may 2007. 'De Nieuwe Mensch' was made by Henri van de Velde (1896-1969). It idealises the Nazi ideology and was used for the glorifying of the Dutch partyleader Anton Mussert. The main figure can be seen as Mussert himself. The 2,30 m high en 1,75 m wide painting was hung in his private office at party headquarters in Utrecht. After the liberation of Holland in '45 the painting was lost untill it resurfaced in 2003 in Belgium.
Karl Hofer, denker, 1945 Buhler, Nach dem Kampf Im Lager, Fellix Nussbaum 1940
With the ennemy liberties could be taken that were otherwise unacceptable; the other guy is Mussolini
let's end this theme with these cartoons. I doubt they really imply Adolf was queer
even so the artist managed to make adolf's ass pretty tasty he may have liked huge stuff up his ass, but have it explode?
A last work by George Gross, made in 1944 called "Cain or Hitler in hell"
go on delftboys to donate, the 20th century (where this part of our historytour fits in), National Socialist Sculpture, the lobby, or mc overview

4 pages from one of the first schwule publications after the war . . .
which may very well be a reprint of a pre war, even a pre WW-I publication or a concentration camp passtime product. Or even fake vintage recent photoshop art

no more ideology, just pure unadulterated sex
to get away from de depressive mood of the country in the first post war years, before the "Wirtschaftswunder" set in

young gay men also jumped at the opportunity of interracial sex, no longer an offence against state ideology.

one more ?

es muss !