There is a philosophical question that I’ve argued with others in my personal life on more than one occasion. Can art be masculine? I say it can, others say art is neither masculine nor feminine, it just is.
My argument is simple. Many of the same words that we use to describe alpha males or the most masculine men can also be said about many pieces of art. Art, like men, can be powerful, insightful, supremely skillful, and inspirational. I would add that masculine art depicts a subject matter men find especially appealing: war, adventure, sexy women, heroism, etc.
Art in the 20th and 21st centuries has gotten a bad rap. Thanks to modern art, which most people agree isn’t powerful, isn’t inspirational and does not take much skill to execute men have largely been turned off of art. Modern art is meant to be provocative, not artistic. That’s why the best example of modern art is that “Piss Christ.” It’s a Catholic crucifix in a clear vat of pee, not worth showing.
Great, masculine art is still out there and better than ever in the last 50 years. When you see these artist’s paintings you get inspired to bravery, or to be strong, or to bang hot women. Masculine art is inspiration worth having in your home in a place of prominence. Here are four artists who demonstrate that masculine art is worth owning.
The best-known artist among men is Frank Frazetta and for good reason. His art is everything we think masculine art should be. The men are strong. The women are sexy damsels in distress. The villains are superhuman. Much of his art represents a scene of action. When he paints a battle you can feel the fury of that battle play out in your mind.
Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo are often compared to each other for several reasons. Their styles are similar as is their subject matter. When they paint women they paint them naked, with big luscious breasts and firm, round butts. When they paint men the men are ripped and usually in battle.
The two are also comparable because they were commisioned to paint book covers. Many of both artists most famous pieces come from book covers, either for a Conan book or one of the many Edgar Rice Burroughs books. A Frazetta book cover for a Burroughs book recently sold at auction for nearly $2 million.
Boris Vallejo paints much more women than Frazetta did. His style is also a little sharper and more vibrant.
Ivan is considered one of the best artists to paint seascapes and especially one of the best to paint naval battles. He comes from the Russian Romantic period and died in the year 1900 at 82 years old. Most artists before the 20th century who painted war well painted much more feminine pieces as well; portraits of women and scenes from dull, daily life for example. Ivan was one of the few who painted war more consistently. When he didn’t paint naval battles he usually painted seascapes.
I met Joe once. He was a very cool guy. He’s a modern artist who paints very much in the Frazetta style. Jusko represents a sad fact about men and art—there is very little demand for masculine art outside of comic book covers and adventure book covers. Jusko is best known for his Conan paintings as well, indicating that masculine art requires masculine characters for inspiration. Perhaps the reason there is so little masculine art today is that there are so few masculine characters worth painting.
It’s also a reminder of the lack of men’s fiction being produced today. Young men, boys really, would rather play video games and have Marvel movie marathons than read a good book. Jusko has gotten most of his commissions from Marvel Comics, but a glance at his other art shows the deep masculine nature of his style.
These paintings took extreme skill and care and vision to create. They inspire the men who view them. Personally, I have ten Frazetta prints framed and hung on the wall over my desk. When I write or study and need that boost of motivation I look up and see Death Dealer raining fury on his enemies. It’s hard not to work at that point.
The great tragedy is that today, masculine art is mostly commisioned for the least masculine products like comic books and video games. If the masculine revolution ever comes, perhaps that will change.
For more from Jared Trueheart on the roles of men and women in literature and film check out his writing at Legends of Men.