Wilhelm von Gloeden|
Gay Art Directory
of Taormina, Sicily became the principal product of his studio, He mixes nudity
and truth, natural phenomena and essence. He began photographing the male nude
in the early 1890's. Von Gloeden's nudes were avidly collected. Their suggestion
of ancient places, use of artifacts and classic compositions helped to divert
or at least excuse their sexual impact.|
|September 16, 1856 - February 16, 1931|
von Gloeden, Baron of the Court of the Hohenzollerns in what is now Germany. He
settled in Taormina, Sicily. The Baron took up quarters in a modest villa at Taormina
in 1876, with a lovely secluded garden-terrace where he photograph his models.
This terrace often appears in his photos. The villagers' attitude toward von Gloeden's
open homosexuality was tempered by his generous disposition and the royalties
he paid his models as some images sold by the thousands.
His more carefully
draped studies were regularly reprinted in hundreds of travel magazines and brochures
advertising the joys of a Mediterranean holiday. The British concept of what constitutes
"the romantic Mediterranean" was invented by von Gloeden. Mr. and Mrs.
Alexander Graham Bell visited von Gloeden in 1898, and came away the proud possessors
of several of his photos of native Sicilians, which they graciously presented
to the National Geographic Society for its magazine.
Von Gloeden's collection
of over three thousand glass plate negatives were left to his long time friend
and model Pancrazio Bucini, who became caretaker of the Baron's estimated three
thousand glass plate negatives. When Mussolini's Fascists entered Taormina in
1936, under provisions set forth in the "alliance" Bucini was accused
of "keeping pornography" and a fascist raid on von Gloeden's archives
destroyed or damaged more than half his negatives, all of which were impounded
by the government. A subsequent trial acquitted the estate of pornography charges
but the glass plates were not returned until after World War II. By then only
a few hundred remained intact, the balance were either shattered or damaged beyond
use. Very few of the plates survived; several hundred are still preserved by Bucini's
own heirs in Taormina today. Most of what we know of the Baron's work has come
to us from the collections of his admirers. Repressive church doctrines continued
to influence the suppression of von Gloeden's work until the late sixties and
early seventies when a new appreciation of photography and weakened Vatican influence
led to a rediscovery of his work.