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February 4th, 2009 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Breedlove The Beautiful Boy

It’s an affair, but is it art?

     
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Read a much longer version of this story here.

In the wake of Sam Adams’ star-crossed affair with hunky Beau Breedlove, a group of arts leaders, including PICA’s Victoria Frey and RACC’s Eloise Damrosch, has circulated an open letter maintaining that the hullabaloo “should not be allowed to derail our entire leadership and our community from the important work ahead.” Arts blog PORT declares: “PORT just doesn’t care about sex scandals; we do care about art, design, and aesthetics, and we will evaluate [Adams] on those matters alone.” And on unBLOGGED, artist TJ Norris writes: “Do I really care that the partner that [Adams] chose was a teenager—or a retiree, for that matter? No.”

It’s no surprise artists are defending our beleaguered bürgermeister. It is artists who channel the dark fiends of the unconscious to effect pathos in the rest of us. As the primordial splatters of Abstract Expressionism attest, the transgressions Adams committed literally, are the same boiling catharses artists delve into symbolically.

Artists, too, know the long tradition of the Beautiful Boy, the sirenlike male Lolita whose not-a-boy, not-yet-a-man body appeared in Ancient Greek pottery and sculptural masterpieces such as Kritios Boy. Fast-forward to the Renaissance and Donatello’s David, (circa 1440), and you’ll see a younger, less ripped David than Michelangelo’s famous version. Donatello’s ephebic charmer could be a prototype for young Master Breedlove emerging from the sea in a widely circulated photograph from his MySpace page.

Then there is the homolicious Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini (himself convicted of sodomizing his models) and Caravaggio’s sultry Bacchus, unknotting his skimpy toga while extending a glass of forbidden wine to the viewer. Ah, the cruelty! The dangling carrot-ness of it all! This is the same illicit potion that leads painter Basil Hallward to his death in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and that landed Wilde himself in prison for his affair with an indiscreet twink named Lord Alfred Douglas, 16 years his junior.

We wish a better fate for Mayor Sam. In fact, my own recommendation is that all investigations, criminal and journalistic, henceforth cease, and that Adams, as penance, should be made to don a glitter-spangled crown inscribed with the word “CHICKENHAWK” as he runs around City Hall three times, belting Noël Coward’s “Mad About the Boy.” Then and only then, all will be forgiven.

 
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