Le Baiser de Narcisse

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We have the French gay culture site Bibliothèque Gay to thank for posting illustrations by Ernest Brisset from Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen’s rare volume of homoerotic fiction, Le baiser de Narcisse (The Kiss of Narcissus). The book was originally published in 1907 but it was a new edition in 1912 which came embellished with Brisset’s Classical drawings and decorations. If these lack a degree of eros it should be noted that the text would have been condemned as outright pornography in the Britain of 1912, a paean to youthful male beauty which lingers over details of a boy’s “polished hips” and his “round and firm sex like a fruit”. As is usual with homoerotics of this period, the Classical setting and allusion to Greek myth provides the vaguest excuse for the subtext even though prudes of the time weren’t remotely fooled by this, as Oscar Wilde discovered.

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Among other works by Fersen there’s a decadent roman à clef, Lord Lyllian: Black Masses (1905), which I’ve been intent on reading since it was translated into English a couple of years ago. Here Fersen provides us with yet another fictional extrapolation of Oscar Wilde who the author gifts with some of his own scandalous history. Fersen had been driven from France following a public outrage involving the “Black Masses” of the novel’s title, and the alleged debauching of Parisian schoolboys.

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Nino Cesarini by Paul Höcker (1904).

Fersen settled in Capri with his partner Nino Cesarini where they spent some years reinforcing the reputation of that island (not for nothing is Noël Coward’s camp and catty character in Boom! named “the Witch of Capri”), and proselytising for the Uranian cause with a literary journal, Akademos, modelled on Adolf Brand’s Der Eigene. Fersen’s later life is reminiscent of that of Elisar von Kupffer, a wealthy contemporary who created a secluded homoerotic paradise of his own, the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion. Unlike Kupffer, however, Fersen ended his days prematurely in a haze of opium and cocaine. As for Ernest Brisset, if anyone finds other work of his online, please leave a comment.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reflections of Narcissus
Narcissus

Der Eigene: Kultur und Homosexualität

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Der Eigene, collected edition, 1906. Design credited to Adolf Brand.

The subtitle is from an article (see below); Der Eigene, the world’s first homosexual periodical was devoted to an ideal of “masculine culture” which looked to Ancient Greece for a model of same-sex relationships. Adolf Brand (“Editor, photographer, poet, polemicist, activist, anarchist, enfant terrible“) founded Der Eigene in Berlin 1896, and to give some idea of how advanced the Germans were in these matters, consider that not only was this a year after Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned in Britain but that Brand’s publication was only the first of several journals advocating gay rights at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal in Germany. The radicalism fell short of including women, unfortunately; like many Grecophile pioneers of the time, Brand’s world had no place for females. All this activity was part of a peculiar ferment in Germany around 1900 which saw the rise of many small groups devoted to naturism, Theosophy, occultism in general, and various pagan revivals. There were also plenty of fiercely nationalist factions, of course, and these took a dim view of Brand’s outspoken homo-anarchism. When the nationalists later turned into the Nazis they destroyed Germany’s nascent gay culture.

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Morgendämmerung (Dawn) by Sascha Schneider, 1897. This drawing also appeared in Jugend magazine the same year.

The pictures here are from sets at Wikimedia Commons where the section devoted to the magazine has finally been amended with some higher-resolution copies. It’s a shame there isn’t more to see given that Der Eigene ran until 1932. I’ll be hoping for further works to come to light as the digitisation of rare publications gathers pace.

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Der Eigene, November, 1920.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion
Jugend Magazine revisited
The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927
Hadrian and Greek love

Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion

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The Clear World of the Blessed Souls (detail).

Once again the web proves beneficial in showing you something you didn’t expect to find. The Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion was the grandiose name given by Elisar von Kupffer (1872–1942) aka Elisarion to his art-filled villa at Lake Maggiore which he shared with his partner Eduard von Mayer. Kupffer was an artist, writer, historian and another of those rare pioneering gay men who used their position and their work to proselytise for social tolerance of same-sex attraction.

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The Clear World of the Blessed Souls (detail).

Kupffer and Mayer’s Sanctuarium is documented at this site (Italian and German language only) with details of the artist’s paintings and the villa’s extraordinary mural, The Clear World of the Blessed Souls, which depicts a luscious homoerotic paradise. Also present are a few of the photos Kupffer used as a basis for his paintings (below). The mural title refers to Klarismus (Clarity), apparently the name of Kupffer and Mayer’s spiritual philosophy and a creed which evidently involves lots of naked boys. Where do I sign up?

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927
The art of Andrey Avinoff, 1884–1949

The gay artists archive

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Previous posts about gay or homoerotic art or artists. A personal and idiosyncratic selection, this isn’t meant to be definitive.

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Tom’s World

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Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey

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The art of Antoon van Welie, 1866–1956

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The art of Paul Thévenaz, 1891–1921

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The art of Peter Knoch

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The art of Tatsuji Okawa, 1904–1994

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The art of Willem Arondeus, 1894–1943

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The art of Nicholas Tolmachev

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The art of David Haines

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A Q&A with artist Mel Odom

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Homosurrealism

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In Homage to Priapus

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Querelle de Brest

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Fast Friends

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The art of Jean Boullet, 1921–1970

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Tom of Finland redesigned

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May Wilson’s Snowflakes

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Tom of Finland postage stamps

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The art of Robert W. Richards

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The art of Sidney Hunt, 1896–1940

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Ignacio Goitia interviewed

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Andrey Avinoff revisited

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Fetish photographer Rick Castro

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Keep Your Timber Limber

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The art of Naomichi Okutsu

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The art of Konstantin Somov, 1869–1939

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The art of Seiji Inagaki

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Claudio Bravo’s packages

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Gekko Hayashi revisited

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The art of George Stavrinos, 1948–1990

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The art of Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, 1884–1965

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The art of Gregorio Prieto, 1897–1992

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The art of Guido Reni, 1575–1642

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The art of Michael Leonard

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The art of Ismael Álvarez

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Muto Manifesto, volume 7

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Cum In Your Eye by Scott La Force

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Be prepared

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The art of Xiyadie

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Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen revisited

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Gay octopus sex

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The art of Hyeyeol

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Richard Bruce Nugent’s Salomé

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The art of Elmgreen and Dragset

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Elie Grekoff’s Tirésias

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The art of Rob Clarke

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Japanese gay art

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The art of Mel Odom

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The Classical alibi in physique photography

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Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks

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Looking for the Wild Boys

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Seminal art and design

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The art of Ludwig von Hofmann, 1861–1945

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Muto: The Exterface Manifesto

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Carl Corley

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Phallic casts

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Lonesome Cowboys

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Jean Genet… ‘The Courtesy of Objects’

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Loving Boys by Christian Schad

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Saint Genet

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Le Baiser de Narcisse

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Philippe Jullian, connoisseur of the exotic

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The art of Marcus Behmer, 1879–1958

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Richard de Chazal’s Zodiac

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Wildeana #3

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Der Eigene: Kultur und Homosexualität

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The art of Ignacio Goitia

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Gekko Hayashi: homoerotics and monsters

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The Lady Is Dead and The Irrepressibles

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The fetish art of Taylor Buck

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The art of Ben Kimura

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The art of Dmitry Dmitriev

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Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion

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The recurrent pose #32

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Le livre blanc by Jean Cocteau

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Michelangelo’s Dream

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Sherbet and Sodomy

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The art of Yannis Tsarouchis, 1910–1989

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Ecce homo

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Joseph Cavalieri’s stained glass

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Eros: From Hesiod’s Theogony to Late Antiquity

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The end of Orpheus

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The art of Robert Sherer

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The art of Goh Mishima, 1924–1989

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The art of Benoit Prévot

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The art of Robert R Bliss, 1925–1981

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The art of Oliver Frey

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The Great God Pan

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Jerry by Paul Cadmus

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The art of Ralf Paschke

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The recurrent pose #26

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The art of Anthony Goicolea

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The art of Philip Shadbolt

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The art of Patrick Gerbier

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The art of Paul Richmond

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The art of Hideki Koh

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The art of Cody Furguson

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Colin Corbett’s decorated jockstraps

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Fizeek Art

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Let’s get physical: Bruce of Los Angeles and Tom of Finland

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Secret Lives of the Samurai

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The art of Cuauhtémoc Rodríguez

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Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray

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IKO stained glass

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The art of Nebojsa Zdravkovic

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The art of Jason Driskill

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William Rimmer’s Evening Swan Song

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The art of Norbert Bisky

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The art of Joan Sasgar

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Happy birthday Henry

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Phallic worship

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Saint Sebastian in NYC

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Mark Beard’s artistic circle

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Czanara: The Art & Photographs of Raymond Carrance

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The art of Scott Treleaven

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Reflections of Narcissus

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Narcissus

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Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastian

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The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927

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Anthony Gayton’s Fall

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Hadrian and Greek love

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The art of Sadao Hasegawa, 1945–1999

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Cain’s son: the incarnations of Grendel

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The art of Hernan Gimenez

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AVAF at Mao Mag

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The art of Matthew Stradling

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Men with snakes

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Felix D’Eon

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Obverse Paintings by Fred Chuang

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Les Farfadais

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The art of Takato Yamamoto

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The art of NoBeast

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The art of Andrey Avinoff, 1884–1949

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The art of Jacques Sultana

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Toxicboy

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The South Bank Show: Francis Bacon

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The art of Lucio Bubacco

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The Male Gaze

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The art of ejaculation

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Philip Core and George Quaintance

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The Budweiser Ganymede

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Czanara’s Hermaphrodite Angel

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The art of Giulio Aristide Sartorio, 1860–1932

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The art of Robert Flynt

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February boy

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The art of Peter Colstee

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Images of Nijinsky

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Michael Petry’s flag

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Angels 6: Paradise stands in the shadow of swords

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Angels 3: A diversion

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Angels 1: The Angel of History and sensual metaphysics

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The art of Hubert Stowitts, 1892–1953

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The art of Bill Travis

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Jean-Frédéric Bazille’s swimmers

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The art of Paul Cadmus, 1904–1999

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The Cult of Antinous

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Army Day

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Super-objects!

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View: The Modern Magazine

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Michelangelo revisited

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The art of Thomas Eakins, 1844–1916

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The male nude in art

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Gay book covers

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Marcello Dudovich

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Evolution of an icon

More archive pages:
The archive page archive