Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden
Homepage: http://vongloedengayhistory.free.fr/
E-mail: vongloeden_gayhistory@yahoo.com


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Artist Statement
Young men of Taormina, Sicily became the principal product of his studio, He mixes nudity and truth, natural phenomena and essence. He began photographing the male nude in the early 1890's. Von Gloeden's nudes were avidly collected. Their suggestion of ancient places, use of artifacts and classic compositions helped to divert or at least excuse their sexual impact.
Biography
September 16, 1856 - February 16, 1931
Wilhelm von Gloeden, Baron of the Court of the Hohenzollerns in what is now Germany. He settled in Taormina, Sicily. The Baron took up quarters in a modest villa at Taormina in 1876, with a lovely secluded garden-terrace where he photograph his models. This terrace often appears in his photos. The villagers' attitude toward von Gloeden's open homosexuality was tempered by his generous disposition and the royalties he paid his models as some images sold by the thousands.
His more carefully draped studies were regularly reprinted in hundreds of travel magazines and brochures advertising the joys of a Mediterranean holiday. The British concept of what constitutes "the romantic Mediterranean" was invented by von Gloeden. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell visited von Gloeden in 1898, and came away the proud possessors of several of his photos of native Sicilians, which they graciously presented to the National Geographic Society for its magazine.
Von Gloeden's collection of over three thousand glass plate negatives were left to his long time friend and model Pancrazio Bucini, who became caretaker of the Baron's estimated three thousand glass plate negatives. When Mussolini's Fascists entered Taormina in 1936, under provisions set forth in the "alliance" Bucini was accused of "keeping pornography" and a fascist raid on von Gloeden's archives destroyed or damaged more than half his negatives, all of which were impounded by the government. A subsequent trial acquitted the estate of pornography charges but the glass plates were not returned until after World War II. By then only a few hundred remained intact, the balance were either shattered or damaged beyond use. Very few of the plates survived; several hundred are still preserved by Bucini's own heirs in Taormina today. Most of what we know of the Baron's work has come to us from the collections of his admirers. Repressive church doctrines continued to influence the suppression of von Gloeden's work until the late sixties and early seventies when a new appreciation of photography and weakened Vatican influence led to a rediscovery of his work.
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