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EROS in expectation of eternity

Museum DKM, Duisburg

© Dan Kane

The exhibition EROS in Expectation of Eternity presents a significant collection focus of the DKM Foundation: the male nude in photography and sculpture from the late 19th century to the present day. The title suggests sensual, heroic, and mythologically charged works intertwined with the beauty of antiquity and confronting transience.

While the nude female body, or female nude, has figured prominently in the canon of art, the depiction of the male nude has been accepted since antiquity only in association with attributes of the martyr or hero. Depictions of pure male beauty and sexuality were taboo for a long time.
One of the first proponents of male nude photography was the German photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden (DE, 1856 -1931), who set his male models in an Arcadian fantasy world. The reference to antiquity thus legitimized the display of the male body.

It would take until the late 20th century before the «pure» male nude was made freely available to the public. The 1960s were in many ways a liberation for men. They parted with outdated views, shame was cast aside, and the taboo of male nude photography had also fallen. The
photographers Herbert Tobias and Will McBride appeared in Germany around this time and represented their own direction in the photography of the male nude, in which the focus was on realism and in their determination of a de-tabooization heralded the emerging punk culture. In New York, Robert Mapplethorpe enters the scene and creates a new style of nude photography. The male body as an object of lust and desire is finally accepted in the wider society.

The depiction of the liberation of the male nude, the triumph and death of the hero are intended to foreground the beauty and sensuality of modern Eros, to immerse us in the depths of being as well as to confront us with the inevitability of the ephemeral. In this world of thought, the senses
oscillate between the fascinating attraction and derangement, sleep and awakening, beauty and death, life and loss.

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