PLEASE NOTE THAT THE IMAGES IN THIS POST CONTAIN ARTISTIC, TASTEFUL, NON-EXPLICIT MALE NUDITY. However, if you’re annoyed by such images, please click here to see a picture of a cat standing in a bathtub instead.
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So just before Thanksgiving, a neighbor put out a perfectly nice oak dining set on trash day, clearly in the hope that some worthy scavenger would give it a new home. And indeed, someone came by and took the table and two of the five chairs. After driving past the diminishing set a couple of times on errands, I finally decided to throw dignity to the wind and nab a chair for myself. (I thoughtfully left two behind, since someone who needed chairs for something other than photo props might need a pair of chairs. I’m always thinking about others that way.)
The chair wasn’t particularly old and in fact looked relatively new-ish, with a lovely natural oak stain. But I had other ideas. “What if,” I thought (because that’s how I think), “this chair was red, and kinda beaten-up? And what if,” I thought further (because that’s what usually happens when I start thinking), “I had some fancy, handsome male models interacting with this chair in every way other than how it’s intended to be interacted with?” (Because sometimes, when I’m thinking, I thoughtlessly end sentences with prepositions.) “And finally,” I thought (because usually this is where my thoughts lead), “those models were wearing not a stitch of clothing, so the photos would be all about color and texture and shape and form, but not–” (and here my thoughts turned fairly prissy) “–at all prurient or particularly erotic?” Because non-erotic art nude photos of men trying to figure out how to use a read chair are obviously what the world has been waiting to see. I congratulated myself on my keen market savviness.
So I took the chair into the garage, and quite literally beat up on it with a hammer and some chain. Then I sanded it and painted it red, and then beat it up some more with a hammer and some chain, and some other tools that I used in ways entirely other than how they are intended to be used.
And this is what it looked like, in my studio:
The thing about this Old Red Chair is that, for all the aging and distressing I did, the resulting gouges, bumps, and irregularities that add interest are really only visible up close. From a distance, it’s just a red wood chair. The “oldness” part, though, is still important, because it helps inform and inspire the models–who are, as you will see below, very up close and particularly personal with this piece of furniture–in establishing a mood, and helps keep me mindful of what I’m after. So if viewers can’t tell it’s beaten up, well, that’s their loss.
The point of the Old Red Chair series is to explore the male form in “conversation” with a specific object; the poses change, the chair stays the same, the focus is on the interaction between linear and organic forms. One of my models suggested that the point is that there are multiple ways not to sit in a chair, which is certainly appropriate. I also have been doing some experimentation with selective color, desaturation, and black-and-white images. Anyway, a picture being worth a lot more than my words here, let’s take a look at the Old Red Chair series…
Thanks to the first models who bravely jumped into this series, Anthony and Quinn. There will be more to come as we explore the possibilities of the Old Red Chair. As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.