Monday, November 10, 2008

Sculpture Studio

This undated (1930s?) press photo has the timeless appeal of two nude men. Very hot nude men. Soapy nude men. But that's not what makes it so interesting (well, not entirely).

What publication was going to publish this strange picture and what's really going on?

There are in fact three models. A woman, light reflecting off one bare breast, stands between and behind the men. She's waiting her turn to wash off whatever it is they have apparently all be painted with. Her gaze is down and away. She's reduced to part of the background.

On the left we have one dark haired model who can't quite seem to stop rubbing his muscular belly with a soapy rag. He watches as his fellow model lifts one shapely leg to the rim of the washtub.

He too looks down and away from the camera. Maybe a hint of a smile? Does he realize how beautiful he is?

Also in this little tableau we see, standing towards the back of the studio, three more men. One peaks out from behind the curtain on the left, another stands obscured the model, and then there's the sculptor in his crisp white smock, hand on hip.

He watches too, with an expression that seems wistful. So much beauty, so close by-- he could just extend a hand to help with those hard-to-reach places. He fantasizes because he knows (as we do) that it can never happen. OK, OK, OK. But there's a odd quality of stillness, sadness. Everyone seems not so much posed as frozen in time.

Together the two models bring to mind the Kouroi of the ancient world, and thanks to Wikipedia we found the double kouros of Kleobis and Biton, sons of Cydippe, a priestess of Hera. Now that's a sad story.

Turns out Cydippe was running late for a feast in honor of Hera, and her two strong sons pulled her oxcart the entire way. Cydippe was so impressed with their devotion she prayed to Hera to give them the best gift a god could give a mortal.

Hera ordained that the brothers would die in their sleep. After the feast they lay down in the temple, fell asleep, and never woke.

Thank you Hera.

This photo is available at

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