Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 30, 2013

Cover Art
Cover Art  (Source:Michael Breyette)

It's pretty obvious the kind of guys Michelangelo was into. The way he constructs the male form is unlike any other. "David" has a sexy, chiseled body, hard nipples and full, round balls, but his hands are disproportionally large. Michelangelo eroticizes David's strong and supple hands.

Looking at the "Sistine Chapel," the fact that even this artist's women look like muscular men betrays the artist's inner longings. Great portrait art not only reveals a subject and not only tells a story, it also gives us glimpses into the vulnerable inner workings of the artist's mind. When we form this relationship to an artist we are moved, just as we are moved by the discoveries we make when we hold a naked person in our arms and make them cum.

"Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man" is an art gallery of some of the world's most intriguing and diverse gay erotic art, from 45 living and actively working artists and one modern master, in the form of a book. What makes this collection so becoming is the way each artist takes the viewer into the secret realms of his unique desire.

"I invent and produce erotic images of men because it gives me the power to connect with and impress those who find my artwork entertaining," says the artist Michael Kirwan. (Among the over 370 pages in this hardcover book filled with vibrant, full-color illustrations, are descriptions of the artists' work, often in their own words.)

Detail from "High Speed Bike Action"
Detail from "High Speed Bike Action"  (Source: Oliver Frey)

You may recognize Kirwan's work from certain porn magazines. His bodies are unlike any others. It's impossible to mistake his style, because he doesn't give us demigods or Bel Ami models. If modern porn gives us a type of man that is to be universally desired, Kirwan and the others in this book of art give us men that are completely unique, and their eroticism comes from their individuality.

"I like to depict sexual situations born not of ardent affection," Kirwan says, "but rather of boredom and proximity... I try to capture exceptional moments that occur in an otherwise routine existence."

He does this by showing us average men through LSD glasses. They are strangely shaped, liquid, bulbous and surrealistically colored. Their penises are both erotically large and erotically small, but never ordinary.

Delmas Howe has been creating erotic art since before the gay liberation movement began - when galleries wouldn't show gay erotic art and artists wouldn't put their names on it. Howe's men are wiry and hardened by the dry air and dirt of the American West. These are ordinary cattle ranchers transformed by the power of their masculinity to the status of "cowboy".

Detail from "The Blue Room"
Detail from "The Blue Room"  (Source: Joseph Radoccia)

"Theseus and Perithous at the Chutes" gives us a rodeo as an arena of testosterone. Here we see the expected, men in tight jeans and long sleeved shirts, but we also see sinewy, strong and completely naked cowboy gladiators preparing to battle bulls the way that Roman heroes battled lions.

"Because I feel I paint," says another artist, Thomas Acevedo. "If I can connect with one person through my painting I am happy... letting the viewer know they are not alone and there is hope."

Some of the artists like Acevedo and Michael Breyette express optimistic and earnest beauty in a way that elevates sexual desire to the state of a spiritual awakening.

Classically trained and internationally recognized, Andrew Potter shapes the male figure with soft, shimmering color and light. Primarily working in oil, he soothes his paint into the canvas leaving smooth, buttery flesh over lean, taut muscle. The narrative of these paintings is veiled and voyeuristic, an adoration of gorgeous male bodies unaware or unconcerned that they are being watched.

Detail from "Cop on Santa"
Detail from "Cop on Santa"  (Source: Logan Kowalsky)

Although there are no photographs in this book, Potter's "Urban Lights I" is photographic in nature, not simply because it's realistic, but because we can tell by the narrow depth-of-field that we are clearly looking at the subject through a telephoto lens (or binoculars).

A perfectly formed, blond man with feathery hair has stepped out on his balcony amidst the glittering lights of the city. It's a sultry night and that is why he wears no clothing, not because he is motivated by any kind of desire. His eyes are dispassionate, his skin unperspiring. There is the subtlest allusion to his virility in way his foreskin is casually pulled up over his stout, bulbous glans.

Still every neon, every tungsten and florescent light reflects off this man's skin, charging his aloof musculature with the energy and verve of the metropolis, a mere blur beyond this very instant.

Conversely, the work of many of other artists is far more graphic; you could call it comic book art.

Detail from "Sentimental Gardener"
Detail from "Sentimental Gardener"  (Source: Tony de Carlo)

"My characters have oversized attributes (penises) the same way The Hulk is huge," says Logan Kowalsky. "It's a comic book thing. I've never considered pornography like a 'mentally challenged' twin of eroticism. A pornographic scene in one of my comics is like a guitar solo in a heavy-metal tune. It's loud, not polite and sometimes very cheesy, but it makes the heart beat and the blood pressure rise..."

Player's watercolors are both mythological and phantasmagoric. The story behind his painting "Capricorn" is clearly a hero's adventure. We see a champion protecting his kingdom by finally managing to seize a bestial giant and bind him to a tree. Almost unseen among the ivy and fallen leaves are fairies and wood sprites.

In this David and Goliath face-off, the characters snarl and growl at each other, like feral dog ready to dominate, each with a pulsating weapon between their legs. The gargantuan monster is horned and goat-like, his ferocious member dripping with a long strand of pre-cum. His eyes are fierce and fighting, his teeth are bared, but his testicles are tight and close to his body. It's clear that he is at his cusp, almost ready to relent.

Detail from "Little England"
Detail from "Little England"  (Source: Player)

Player's images are filled with blood, violence and brutality. "Little England" takes place in a filthy alley, littered with refuse and broken glass. A bully thrusts his victim against the wall and masturbates him. The tormentor defiantly glares at us for watching, even as he flaunts his power. Also watching is the bully's sycophantic little side-kick. He cackles and rubs at the bulge growing in his own jeans.

There's something in the victimized hero's face that resembles Bernini's "Ecstasy of St. Teresa." Because he is so devout in his submissive opposition, the pain our protagonist feels has been elevated to the realm of divine pleasure.

"The penis is one of the most exquisite natural works of art. I draw men with such large phalluses because I want to depict this work of art in all its glory," says the artist Patrick Fillion. "Be true to your art... that is the best way to contribute something worthwhile to the world of Gay erotic arts."

Before Michelangelo, the artist as an individual was not important. The artist simply sought to recreate classical form as perfectly as possible. In his early days, even Michelangelo tried to create forgeries and pass them off as classics. Eventually, this sculptor and painter was recognized for the individuality he brought to his work. Each of the creators in "Capolavoro di Uomo" brings us an inimitable perspective, and our intimate connection to each of these artist's matchless desire is what moves us.

"Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man"
Currently available for sale at
370 pages, 9 x 12, hardcover book with a dust jacket. The book features 46 artists from around the world representing Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, England, France, Holland, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand and the United States.