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Friday, 18 March 2016

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Vortex

Vortex - Attack of the Dick Monster

Vortex is a little-known artist from gay, erotic history and his work has the naivety and humour that characterised that time. However it is extraordinarily expressive in erotic terms and those qualities pass to us pretty much undimmed by the passage of time.

Exaggeration of sexual features is his hallmark and this first example is a wry comment on man’s narcissistic relationship with his cock. Paradoxically it actually seems to be holding him back here, he looks at temptation from afar. This picture is placed firmly in the 60’s by the television (its design and screen size) and the fashionable cleft chin of the central character (think Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Clint Walker). Humour aside, perhaps the absence and impossibility of a sexual act here is unwittingly symbolic of the reality of gay relationships in that era, which were more longed-for than real for most men.

Vortex - Cheetah feeds Tarzan
This portrayal of Tarzan as the cocky show-off who can be brought down a peg or two by his animal friend warms the cockles of my heart. It’s a refreshing change from the daring, right-minded and perpetually-hunted hunk we normally think of. Aficionados of the 60’s films will recall sequences where the mischievous antics of the monkey are a cause of patronising merriment, contemporaries would spot that irony.

The erotic elements of this picture are no less arresting. Tarzan’s physique is portrayed in a sensuous fashion that reflects comic book and pulp-fiction, adventure art and his sexual ‘predicament’ is startlingly graphic and effective, transcending the immediate comedy and leading the viewer into imagining deeper matters.

Vortex - Grand Maw, Please Don't Tell! (cropped)
  If you think sex toys are a recent invention, think again!  However, one wonders whether the artist actually had a first-hand acquaintance with them since the tubes seem to lead off-stage to a pumping device of considerable size. Try keeping that from your parents! Actually the rather twee double bed with cover is more suggestive of anonymous hotel rooms and furtive sex than the domestic situation implied by the title. There’s no sense of dark sex here, this muscleman is experimenting/having fun. His jolly face is very typical of mid-20th century na├»ve erotic art. The veins in his arms suggest the artist had a greater familiarity with the human form than vacuum pumps!

I don’t have any links for Vortex but would love to hear from anyone who knows more. 


For more articles in this series click on the A-Z label below or search for specific artists using the index page or search boxes (top right)

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