dimanche 11 janvier 2009

Henry Tuke and the boys

Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) was educated at the Slade School of Art in London, traveled to Italy in 1880, and lived in Paris from 1881 until 1883. In Paris, he studied with the French history painter Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and met the American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Tuke also met Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) in the 1880s and developed connections with the Uranian poets and writers who celebrated the adolescent male. He wrote a sonnet to youth that was published anonymously in the journal The Artist and also contributed an essay to The Studio, another journal that published Uranian verse and essays.

Tuke settled in a Cornish town near Falmouth Bay in 1885. He converted his boat into a floating studio and living quarters where he could pose his models and entertain his friends. Although he was also an accomplished portraitist, most of his works depict young men who swim, dive, and lounge on a boat or on the beach.

August Blue (1893-1894), one of the most famous paintings from this period, is a study of four nude youths bathing from a boat in crystal clear water under bright blue skies. The work conveys a sense of enjoyment, of the simple innocence of sunlight on flesh, sea, and sky. With August Blue, Tuke established a genre that celebrates male beauty and the seeming timelessness of youth. Tuke's paintings of nude youths illustrate sensual, rather than sexual, feelings. They are not explicit either in the relationships they describe or in the details of the body.

The oil painting Noonday Heat (1903), for example, presents two youths who, relaxing on the beach, are completely engrossed in their own private world. They look at one another, perhaps engaged in conversation. Since neither of them addresses the viewer, their relationship seems intimate, exclusive, and ambiguous. Similarly, the watercolor Two Boys on a Beach (1909) captures a close, intense relationship. In this work, the absence of a horizon heightens the feeling of intimacy. Tuke only rarely painted the genitals of his models, thereby de-emphasizing a sexual reading of his works. The artist generally arranged his models so that anatomical details are concealed. In frontal views, shadows or draped pieces of clothing obscure the genitals. Tuke's de-emphasis of the sexual may explain why his work, and his close friendships with many of his models, created no scandals. [...] He died after a long illness at Falmouth in 1929.

sources :

Aucun commentaire: