The Eroticism of Fat Men
The Evening Standard 21 Feb 2006
Here in abundance is evidence of man’s too willing subservience to dominant women, of the fantasies of pain, bondage and torment at the hands of women that haunt the minds of men and boys. Man’s more straightforward interest in women is demonstrated in images of conjugation with them, singly and in pairs, and less directly by proxy in the fetish elements of sharp little shoes and ornately braided hair.
There is evidence too of homo-eroticism, even of quiescent homosexuality, in the long-limbed, muscular and classically handsome superheroes of mythology and history, their forms those of the ecorche figures from which the skin has been stripped to reveal the long strong muscles and tendons that lie immediately beneath – every artist had access to them in the later 18th century. Yet even with these, uncertainty creeps in when Kriemhild holds the head of kneeling Siegfried hard against her groin, and Othar is gentleman enough not to rape Siritha.
Among such images as these it is not the forms of virtue that are erect, but the form of man’s most obvious, evident and ever-present instrument of pleasure.
We look on the 18th century as the Age of Enlightenment, and so it was, but it was also an age with a more human side. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, anatomy and engineering advanced in leaps and bounds; in many areas of enquiry men suddenly knew the reason why, and where they did not, they understood that collecting, cataloguing and categorising would eventually answer questions they did not know that they must ask; but in the visual arts they asked themselves which female nude they’d like the better to fuck – and used that frank word for it in their letters and journals – this painting or that sculpture. …