The Thiel Gallery says: “Men bathing is a subject that has attracted attention throughout art history. Bodies moving or at rest, and nude bathing with its oscillation between social and private situations, provide new opportunities to observe the naked male body. Bathing houses and spontaneous outdoor bathing have inspired artists at least since the late 19th century to portray both the hygienic benefits, the liberated playfulness and the erotic allure of water. The artist Jan Hietala has long devoted himself to an exploration of this artistic tradition through a variety of media: painting, films, text and installations. Therefore, he has been invited to show a selection of his works and give a contemporary perspective on one of the Thiel Gallery’s most eye-catching paintings: The Navy Bath House (1907) by Eugène Jansson (1862-1915). Jansson belonged to the close circle of artist friends of the collector Ernest Thiel, and his paintings commanded an entire wall in the upstairs gallery. Since 1970, when it became known that Jansson was homosexual, The Navy Bath House has been tucked away in the Gallery’s warehouse and only shown in temporary exhibitions.
This exhibition marks the fact that the nude men will now be on permanent display at the Thiel Gallery. Welcome to a sensual exhibition about nude men by the water, in the past and present.” Eugene Jansson was born in Stockholm in 1862 and spent the first half of his career as an accomplished landscape painter. He was famous for his Munch inspired nighttime landscapes, featuring gorgeous shades of blue. These works were highly sought after and his career was flourishing, but Jansson was exhausted and had lost interest in landscapes.
He decided to change the direction of his work and it would be a drastic change. Jansson met his muse and lover, Knut Nyman, while at the Navy Bath-house in Stockholm. The Naval bath-house, and it’s many handsome young members, would become the inspiration for the second half of Jansson’s career as a painter. His love of men and his passion for painting suddenly merged with his new works. Jansson and Knut lived an isolated life for many years while he worked on his new series of paintings. Jansson and Knut shared a house together, next to his painting studio, until 1912. Jansson painted 4 monumental works set in a bathhouse, as well as nude athletes, until he died cerebral hemorrhage in 1915. After Jansson’s death, his brother (who was also gay) destroyed most of the artist’s letters and papers. This was most like done to avoid a scandal since homosexuality was illegal in Sweden until 1944, Until very recently, art historians have ignored Jansson’s homosexuality despite the obvious homo-erotic nature of his work.
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Edouard munch – bathing men
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