Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baron Willhelm von Gloeden: Part II

As part of the series of Journal entries about contemporary alternative gay male art versus traditional gay male art I explore the history and relationship of photography in general to gay male photography in particular.
In fact, he was not a baron, just the prototype for the pretentious homosexual benefactor of young boys, and a pederast in contemporary terms. Never the less, such a statement is an over simplification for an extremely complex and talented man. In the current conservative mood in these United States of America von Gloeden would probably be arrested for his love of boys, though I think he might be tolerated in the European West. He was born in 1856, the son of a forestry agent who worked for the Grand Duke of Mechlenburg-Schwerin. His father died when von Gloeden was a youngster, and his mother remarried Joachim Baron von Hammerstein who was a politician and journalist, baron in name, if not title.

Wilhelm left Germany for Italy in 1878 because of a pulmonary condition, possibly consumption, and found instead the answer to his psychological and physical needs as a homosexual man and the concomitant cure for his evidently somatic illness. In Taormina, Sicily von Gloeden lived the life of the wealthy sponsor for the young men of the village, not only taking exotic photographs of them that made him famous, but supplying the boys and young men with the funds necessary to found businesses that in many cases survive to this day in memory if not in fact in local family lore. He was single-handedly responsible for making Taormina a destination for European, British and American tourists.

*(Censored by the writer because of concerns with Web interference by the US Federal government.
Wikipedia Commons, "Image: Gloeden, Wilhelm von (1856-1931) - n. 1544 - da - Amore e arte, p. 74.jpg", viewed 10: 33 AM EDT, Sunday, April 20, 2008.


Goldman, Jason, glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trangender & queer culture, arts, Gloeden, “Wilhelm, von Baron (1856-1931)” © 2002, glbtq, Inc. Viewed 8:52 AM EST, March 3, 2008

Koymasky, Matt and Andrej, “Wilhelm von Gloeden – The Boys of Taormina,” The Living Room, Last update, July 10, 2005. Viewed 8:54 AM EST, March 3, 2008.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “ Wilhelm von Gloeden,” Viewed 8:20 AM EST, March 3, 2008.

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