Sunday, February 27, 2011

Danse Galante by Margit Gaál

This beautifully flowing lithograph was by the Hungarian (or possible Ukrainian) artist Margit Gaál.  Very little is known about her except that she was born in 1898.  This picture came from a limited edition of 100 signed lithographs published in Paris in 1920 called Songes Galantes.  This picture, Danse Galantes, was the last of the twelve pictures in the work.

It's not clear at first as to the sex of the standing figure, who has masculine clothes and short hair but the curves of the figure and the dainty feet suggest it is a girl; perhaps one of the tribades that were fashionable in Paris at this time.

Whatever, it is a striking composition full of energetic abandon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Couple in a Pool by John LaGatta

Couple in a pool (c. 1950)

Looking at the pictures of Sandy Robertson, and her man in the pool from Penthouse, Triple P was reminded of a painting by John LaGatta which he has now located amongst the approximately 1 million picture files he has in his computer.  The woman floats on the surface of the water in a brief bikini whilst the man emerges from the depths like a watery predator for a snatched kiss.  It is a wonderfully delicate yet erotic picture from one of America's finest illustrators.

When it came to portraying the female body, LaGatta was an absolute master and women were very much his favourite subject.  Although he did some nudes, as most of his illustrations were for womens' magazines his figures were invariably dressed. 

However, he had the amazing ability to make even his dressed women look undressed.  He also managed to imbue an immense amount of sexual charge into his pictures of men and women.  The picture of the three women and the man, above, just oozes sex.

Even when he illustrated women on their own, he used such a sensuous line that looking at the pictures today you start to wonder if the women are having a relationship with each other, as in this cover picture for The Saturday Evening Post.

Illustration for The Saturday Evening Post (1930)

LaGatta was born in Naples, Italy in 1894 and after his family moved to New York studied art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, having first started off in his father's jewellery business. 

Bathing Beauties (1933)

He first came to prominence during the period of the First World War going on to do illustrations for the likes of  Life, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan together with advertising work. 

Illustration for "No Scarlet Woman" American magazine 1940

In 1916 he joined the Amsden commercial studio and never looked back.  Unlike many later illustrators, who worked from photographs, LaGatta always used models who he carefully selected himself.

Golden Locks (1933)

LaGatta's family, although having aristocratic lineage, were very poor and later in life, as a successful illustrator, Lagatta very much appreciated the finer things in life.  At the beginning of World War 2, LaGatta moved to California and taught at the Art Center School in Los Angeles.  He died in 1977.

John LaGatta

LaGatta never did any explicit erotic works, although some of his advertising nudes were considered very racy at the time, but then he managed to get more sex appeal into his clothed couples than most so called erotic artists did in their naked ones.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moss v Lohan in bed

Johnny Depp and Kate Moss 1994

Agent Triple P has never been an admirer of Kate Moss; he thinks she is a ghastly, South London chain-smoking, cocaine-sniffing slapper with an ordinary little body who happens to be blessed with a pair of photogenic cheekbones.  In a society less enthralled by celebrity she should rightfully have been jailed by now.  In this view, however, Triple P does feel somewhat in the minority.  His late lamented friend R used the Kate Moss scale to assess Russian prostitutes in St Petersburg:  Kate Moss plus one, Kate Moss plus two etc.   Triple P's problem with this was that he rated Kate Moss so low that the St Petersburg working girls seemed far off the top of a scale that had her as the base line.

Triple P's friend, B, also, inexplicably, seems to think that Moss deserves her style icon billing and sent us this picture of Moss with, then boyfriend, Johnny Depp as an exemplar of eroticism suitable for our dressed man/ undressed woman theme.  This picture was taken by Annie Leibovitz at  the Royalton Hotel in New York in 1994.  Now we like Mr Depp as an actor and he looks appropriately adoring in this picture, whereas Moss exudes all the sexual energy of a puppet whose strings have been cut.  Pictures of genuine couples should always carry an erotic charge that pictures of non-involved models can't match but this picture is somewhat flat.

Petey Wright and Lindsay Lohan 2009

One person who did like the picture, howver, was Lindsay Lohan who was inspired by the photograph for a photo set shot for Muse magazine's winter 2009 issue.  She got photographer Yu Tsai to pose her with model Petey Wright on a bed for what she hoped would be an "iconic" shoot.  The picture is a disaster and makes the Leibovitz photograph lool like a masterpiece (which it isn't). 


Lohan, sporting a suspiciously plumped up trout pout, looks like trailer trash, the cigarette adding to the downmarket effect (amazingly, Leibovitz had managed to get Moss to put down her cigarette for a few minutes).  The effect of having the man dressed is also lost; two naked bodies are not as interesting as one naked and one dressed.   In fact, a slightly more interesting shot from this pictorial (which also, in some pictures, includes another girl) is this one of a dressed Lohan and a naked Wright.

All in all Lohan manages to do something Triple P wouldn't have thought possible: make Kate Moss look classy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More pictures by Paul Emile Bécat

Here are a couple more nice illustrations by Paul Emile Bécat (1885-1960).  The picture above exudes la vie bohème as our floppy-haired and, yes, fully dressed, protaganist unveils his beautifully lit mademoiselle.  Whether he is a starving artist or a starving poet (he looks more like the latter) in a garret he has, at least tempted (or paid for) someone to join in him bed. 

This is a good illustration, too, of women's underwear at the beginning of the last century (and before) when ladies drawers were still open underneath.  This must have made them a lot more entertaining to explore!

In the second picture the couple depicted have shed all their clothes so, obviously they are in a warm environment at least!  Bécat has done a lovely job on the lady's posterior here and put it almost dead centre in the picture so that your eye goes straight there!

Bécat, although most famous for his erotic works, was a serious artist studying under Gabriel Ferrier and  François Flameng.  The latter later became famous for his controversially unheroic military paintings of the First World War and was a friend of Sargent and Gérôme.  Bécat first exhibited at the Salon de Paris in 1913 and in 1920 won the Prix de Rome.  The Prix de Rome was a prestigious award, first granted in 1663, which paid for the winner to study for three to five years at the French Academy in Rome, which from 1803 was located in the Villa Medici.

Young girl seated (goauche) (1934)

In 1932, he won a travel grant to French Equatorial Africa, visiting the Congo and Oubangui Chari.  In 1934, he returned to Africa  visiting Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Mauritania and produced a number of goauche or pastel paintings.  Most of his erotic illustrations, usually done in drypoint, were done between 1936 and 1959.  He is also well known for his portraits, especially of French writers.

In this rather haunting picture he combines his portraiture skills with his work featuring couples, to striking effect.

More Bécat another time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Time of her Time: Sandy Robertson by Tim Perior

As it's Valentines Day today B has suggested that I post another couples pictorial from Penthouse in the early seventies.  Eight months after the previous example,  Pair Play, Penthouse's next couples pictorial wasn't really a "love set" at all but a Pet pictorial which included a man, as the title page for Sandy Robertson's December 1973 pictorial showed.

First off, however, we are presented with some photgraphs of the Pet herself.  At least we can appreciate her, as we had yet to experience the Penthouse soft-focus effect in all its washed out diffuseness.

There are several noteworthy things about the splendid Miss Robertson.  Firstly, she has extreme tan lines.  this is something that would become more common as Penthouse increasingly used American rather than British models. 

Secondly, she has amazing, waist-length hair as demonstrated in this prototypical Penthouse mirror shot.

According to the text, Sandy was 36-23-36, as convincingly demonstrated by this series of photographs. 

In 1973 Bob Guccione had shot seven out of the twelve centrefolds, the others being covered by Jeff Dunas and Ken Marcus.  Tim Perior also contributed this unusual set.  This was Tim's first shoot for Penthouse and he included these two more abstracted studies of Sandy's splendid body which, again, were unusual for the time.

Perior was born in Detroit in 1940 and studied commercial and fine art at the Cass Technical High School in Detroit. By 1968 he had set up his first photographic studio in Southern California.  He carried on doing glamour and fashion photography for 11 years. 

Jennifer Welch

He shot another four pictorials for Penthouse, such as Jennifer Welch (above) from January 1975, but never another Pet of the Month.   He also did some work for Guccione's womens' magazine Viva, including this cover shot of a couple from August 1974.

In the slightly more soft-focus photograph, below, Sandy shows a hint of a split beaver, which was very unusual indeed for the period.

Unexpectedly, a man (called Chuck in the text) suddenly appears for most of the rest of the pictorial.  This really was a new departure for Penthouse.  They had occasionally shown their Pets interacting with clothed men before but until this point the only other one to be photographed with a naked man was Billie Rainbird in several photographs of her on the beach with a real seventies beardy-weirdy back in May 1971.

Billie Rainbird on the beach with a very short ugly man in 1971

Sandy seems to have faired much better as her man seems to be a mixture of Wolverine and seventies British Olympic swimmer David Wilkie.

At least Chuck is taller than Sandy!  Some Penthouse readers had been asking for men in the pictorials for some time. Oui magazine, the Playboy-owned supposed challenger to Penthouse for the slighly naughtier European-influenced market, had posed their centrefolds with male models several times.  So now it was a case of of the imitated being the imitator.

However, none of the Oui pictorials were as passionate as this one, as the couple get friendly in the pool.

Sandy, here, shows that she has a very strong nose, which is quite unusual for a glamour model, but Triple P likes a girl with a strong nose and thinks she looks great.  In the text of her pictorial it said that Sandy was an actress and had appeared in several films, including The Terminal Man (which hadn't been released at that point) and The Mad Bomber (1973) but there is no sign of her on IMDB.

Triple P thinks that this is a nice sequence of photographs capturing something of the tactile feel of contact with another naked body in water which, for some reason, feels more intense than it does in the air.

Chuck enjoys a good nuzzle whilst Sandy is the first Pet to be shown with her legs wrapped around a man;  the previous two couples sets didn't go that far.

Photographer Tim Perior moved on to more mainstream work; a lot more coming his way after he photographed Salvador Dali in Spain.  Today he is involved in TV and film production, graphics, stage productions and books.  He also produces religious themed art.  He is certainly a busy man!  

Nicole Carole

Notably,  he is now an evangelical Christian running his own evangelistic ministry since 1982.  Bizzarely, too, he was the first producer of Evel Knievel's stunt shows.  Although he mentions his glamour work briefly on his website he doesn't mention, of course, his previous work with Penthouse, especially as he was doing quite risque stuff by the time he finished at the magazine, as can be seen from this March 1977 shot of Nicole Carole.

Meanwhile, he gives us the first picture in Penthouse of a man touching a woman's pubic hair, making this one of the magazine's barrier breaking pictorials and notably more racy than his rivals at Playboy or Oui had done.

This picture of Sandy straddling Chuck is also much stronger than anything seen in the previous couples pictorials.

Finally, we get this implied post-coital shot which is the first example of something that we will certainly see again.

Unlike Oui, Penthouse had Sandy appearing solo in her centrefold, Chuck having been...chucked.  It is a particularly nice centrefold too with Sandy looking gloriously fluffy down below.

Penthouse never repeated this experiment of having a man interact with the Pet of the Month.  In the future couples pictorials would be completely seperate although, of course, some Pets would later appear in couples pictorials themselves.  It would be another twelve months before another couples pictorial and that would have an unusual aspect as well.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Couple by Tom Poulton

Here is another example of a fully clothed man and a naked (apart from stockings) woman, this time by English artist Tom Poulton.  We have written about Poulton in some depth on our Venus Observations blog here.  We will be featuring quite a lot of his work in the future as he really was the finest erotic artist England has produced (although some may venture that that is not saying much!).

As far as we are aware Poulton did not use models but there is something faintly photographic about this beautifully rendered drawing, so maybe he did have a source photo for this one.  If not it is an exceptionally good piece of shading. 

More Poulton soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ready for bed

We like this anonymous French etching of a pyjama clad gentleman and his glowingly naked young lady.  She is all abandoned, with her long flowing hair and naughtily questing hand, whereas he looks like he can't believe his luck.  Somehow we don't think that they are husband and wife!

Pyjamas (or pajamas) were originally lightweight trousers worn in South Asia (from the Persian word peyjama meaning "foot garment").  The word and the garment first came to Britain from our Imperial colonies in the region in about 1870.

Triple P stopped wearing pyjamas when he went to university, where he quickly hooked up with  a lovely young redhead who he had met at interview some nine months before.  She liked Triple P not to wear anything at bedtime and we preferred her the same way.  It is amusing to see, in Triple P's current favourite TV show, Mad Men, the couples wearing pyjamas and nightdresses.  We forget, in our temperature controlled  way, how people used to dress up for bed and, indeed sex, until really quite recently.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Initiation by Bob Veze

We have had a request for this pictorial from Gallery magazine from May 1976 photographed by Bob Veze and as it fits our current girl/girl thread, here it is.

Gallery had been launched as a Playboy clone and copied just about everything from Hefner's magazine from the style of the cartoons to the layout of the words on the centrefold.  However, by 1976 they had got dragged into the pubic wars as well and started to ape Penthouse rather more than Playboy.  That meant bolder genital shots and girl/girl pictorials.

This pictorial featured a title page and then four double page spreads with smaller pictures inserted; a style, we have to say, that we not only don't like for aesthetic reasons (it really is a bit over-designed in that mid seventies cod art deco style) but because it is a pig to scan!

The story behind this is that new girls arriving at the particular college have to be initiated sexually by one of their sorority sisters in front of a male student.  The male student isn't shown in the pictorial but girl/girl pictorials were still relatively new in magazines at this time and they were all very concerned to indicate that these girls weren't lesbians. They didn't want to alienate their male readers!

Although there is a bit of kissing, oral nipple contact and pussy flashing here it's not that naughty really and is about at the same level as Penthouse and Genesis from this period.  That is, until the final spread where one young lady has her face right in the other's groin which was naughtier than anything Penthouse had done.  Photographer Bob Veze adopts the Penthouse style of floaty, romantic attire and natural light but not the soft-focus.

Bob Veze studied painting and graphic design at Kent State University, Ohio, and then studied film at the University of Souther California.  He worked for a number of advertising agencies doing photography and graphic design including a stint as graphics consultant for Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas.

From another girl/girl set for the short-lived Male magazine in July 1979

He started shooting glamour photographs, in tandem with his other work, in 1975 and worked for Gallery, Chic, Hustler, Genesis, Swank, Club and Penthouse over the next 25 years.

Temptress (aka Nita S Harbaugh) photographed by Vese in 1989

From 1981 until 1986 he produced and directed dozens of films for Electric Blue which was the highest rated programme on the Playboy Channel, although most of the content was originated in the UK where it was produced by the Paul Raymond organisation.

Naughty sailor girl for Hustler, January 1978

So, we like the photographs in The Initiation but the pictorial is rather ruined by the over fussy graphics and the annoying picture in picture effect.