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Homoerotisk sensibilitet : Byggandet av homosexuell identitet genom konsthistorien / Homoerotic Sensibility : The Construction of Homosexual Identity Throughout the History of Art

Authors
  • Varnauskas, Jacob
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Source
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
Keywords
Language
Swedish
License
Green
External links

Abstract

The question of homoerotic sensibility is, in the purpose of this thesis, a matter of visual language connected to the portrayal of male bodies. By identifying this sensibility throughout the western art canon the essay seeks to understand its origins, development and function in relation to expressions of power. With the introduction of theorists such as Alois Riegl, Laura Mulvey, Abigail Solomon-Godeau and Raewyn Connell, the aim is to deconstruct homosexual masculinity. Adapting formal analysis and parts of visual semiotics, the focus lies on the visual expression of power through the homoerotic gaze, and asks what consequences it has in forming homosexual identity. Greek antiquity is home not only to the ideals that foster western art history, but is also where we find early examples of same-sex affection being portrayed in the arts. Hence classical antiquity is so important for the homoerotic: whenever the classical language of style is popular throughout history, we are sure to find homoerotic sensibility. For reasons mentioned, the main periods analyzed are the Italian Renaissance, the French Neoclassicism and then, naturally the late 20th century onwards as this is the period of gay liberation and modern homosexual identity.  By identifying classical acceptance of homosexual relations only in the form of a clear social hierarchy, we soon discover how homosexuality has appropriated the idea of binary difference within its masculinity throughout history. Accepting relationships only between erastes and eromenos, or man and ephebe, homosexuality is forced to exist only on the terms of difference of power. With classical ideals, these tendencies are recurring in the visual representation of male homosexuality, and becomes a big part of the liberation and forming of a modern identity in the late twentieth century. As a result of objectification of the male body, in combination with idealized and sexualized power, modern gay culture has in many ways embraced a destructive culture shaped by misogynist ideas of hegemonic culture, where sexual violence exists, but is not spoken of.

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