December 1 - 31, 2006

Visual AIDS and The Body

The Male Portrait
A Web Gallery Curated by Richard Renaldi
Sam Orwen, Lovers, 1982
Radical Faerie Series, 1987
Albert J. Winn
Gelatin silver print, 20" x 16"

In the Curatorís Statement:

When approaching the Visual AIDS slide library, I thought it best to approach it with an idea in mind. This is a large archive and approaching it with a more specific theme seemed reasonable to me. One theme that I am strongly drawn to is portraiture. It is a constant and very important focus of my own work, thus choosing portraiture felt like a natural choice to me.

More specifically, I am attracted to images of masculinity and male sexuality -- so I wanted to use this opportunity to select a diverse group of portraits whose subject matter was the representation of men.

The images I have selected are of men both young and old. They are in many different stages in their life. Some are looking at themselves through self-portraiture and others are the object of someone elses eye. The experience that I see that binds these disparate men is the thoughtfulness of their gaze. There is a self-presentation amongst many of them that conveys a relaxed "here I am" manner. This for instance is seen in the body language of both Rob Anderson's Norman Tyler Larson and Loreen Bryant's Mexican Fervor.

These portraits elicit both a range of emotional responses in me and a reading of the emotional state of the subjects pictured. In some cases these feelings may overlap as my attraction to some of the images manifests itself on a physical level as with Vincent Cianni's portrait of the confident adolescent Johnny posing shirtless with his birthday cake. There is Robert Blanchon's beautiful, street-artist commissioned charcoal self-portrait, which is both vibrant and dreamy. And George Towne's lovely and lanky Slava. I feel warmth and camaraderie from Albert J. Winn's portrait of a couple on a porch holding a frying pan, from his Radical Faerie Series. I feel mild confrontation from Tara Popick's Untitled elderly man holding onto railing, and I sense tension in Tim McCarron's Luis who is grasping a chair.

The men portrayed in many of these portraits are not the in-your-face, chiseled, lean-bodied or muscled bodybuilder types that men are so often today bombarded with from advertising, television and gay erotica. These men are a more subtle, quiet and real-life, day-to-day image of maleness. And, in the case of Frederick Weston's Richard XII, a more flamboyant and celebratory version.

These portraits are all of individuals, and let us not forget that the millions of victims and sufferers of HIV and AIDS are individuals -- not statistics, nor political tools, but once and now living, breathing human beings. It is to them that I dedicate this web gallery.

b i o g r a p h y

Richard Renaldi is a photographer living in New York. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at Western Projects, Calif.; Debs & Co., N.Y.; and an upcoming show at Yossi Milo Gallery, N.Y., in January 2007. His work has also been included in numerous group shows, including Strangers: The First International Center of Photography Triennial of Photography and Video, N.Y., and the traveling exhibition Pandemic: Facing AIDS. Renaldi graduated from New York University with a bachelor of fine arts in photography in 1990. Richard Renaldi's first monograph, Figure and Ground, was recently published by Aperture. Drawn from a seven-year body of work, Figure and Ground is comprised of portraits and landscapes taken from coast to coast, across the United States. Together, they present a beautiful and compelling look at America's increasingly diverse social landscape. Renaldi has also devoted much of his photographic talents to putting a living, human face on those afflicted with AIDS, as well as its long-term survivors. More of his work can be seen at

Founded in 1988 by arts professionals as a response to the effects of AIDS on the arts community and as a way of organizing artists, arts institutions, and arts audiences towards direct action, Visual AIDS has evolved into an arts organization with a two-pronged mission: 1) Through the Frank Moore Archive Project, the largest slide library of work by artists living with HIV and the estates of artists who have died of AIDS, Visual AIDS historicizes the contributions of visual artists with HIV while supporting their ability to continue making art and furthering their professional careers, 2) In collaboration with museums, galleries, artists, schools, and AIDS service organizations, Visual AIDS produces exhibitions, publications, and events utilizing visual art to spread the message “AIDS IS NOT OVER.”

The Body is now the most frequently visited HIV/AIDS-related site on the Web, according to the Medical Library Association and also the most frequently visited disease-specific site on the Web, according to Hot 100. The Body contains a rich collection of information on topics ranging from HIV prevention, state-of-the-art treatment issues, humor and art. An invaluable resource, The Body is used by clinicians, patients and the general public. Part of The Body's mission is to enable artistic expression to reach the Web, and to join art with other resources needed to help the public comprehend the enormity and devastation of the AIDS pandemic and to experience its human and spiritual dimensions.

Visual AIDS 
526 W. 26th St. # 510, New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212.627.9855  Fax: 212.627.9815

Visual AIDS Gallery

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