From Library Journal
Thomas Eakins's (1844-1916) reputation has long since recovered from the ostracism he suffered when he exposed female drawing students at the Philadelphia Academy of Art to nude male models and was forced to quit teaching. In recent years, the rehabilitation of this 19th-century realist painter has continued, with several books and museum retrospectives of his work. Perhaps, then, it was inevitable that the erotic potential of Eakins's working materials-extensive photographic documentation of the bodies of his male models and students-would be seized upon. This sexy but unnecessary book compiles many of his photographs of nude youths, often engaged in such unlikely athletic pursuits as wrestling, boxing, or tugs-of-war while in the buff in some Arcadian setting. Translated onto canvas by Eakins, these beautifully composed images became lyrical and timeless. Few of the final paintings are seen here, however. Lacking the interpretive analysis contained in Kathleen Foster's excellent Thomas Eakins Rediscovered, this thin volume is instead best thought of as Victorian-era eye candy. Libraries seeking insight into Eakins's visual methods would be better served by Foster's book.Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Abstraction gets the most ink whenever modern art is the subject, but surely another vital modernist development was the revival of the male nude. Thomas Eakins (1844-1915), one of America's greatest painters and art teachers, became enthralled with the male nude as a student in Europe and under the influence of the Renaissance masters. He and a fellow student posed nude for one another then, and when he started teaching back in Philadelphia, he regularly had a male student pose. For reference purposes, he made studio photographs resembling Eadweard Muybridge's famous motion studies (he had worked with Muybridge), series of single-figure images regarding the body from different angles, and outdoor groupings, the best-known of which were models for his painting Swimming
. Esten discusses Eakins' use of male nudes, which got him fired from one post when he pulled the loincloth from a male model in a class including female students, and presents a lovingly reproduced selection of Eakins' photographs and a few paintings based on them. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved