I wrote the the foreword to Andy Warhol Men, a book which contains hundreds of rarely seen illustrations, paintings, drawings, silk screens and photographs of men, and their various body parts, by Andy Warhol. The book was published in late 2004. If you'd like to purchase a copy, visit Chronicle Books here.
Here's what I wrote...
Andy Warhol Men Introduction by Alan Cumming.
I have always maintained that the mark of a great artist is their ability to draw a good bum - a bum that stirs our loins, be we man or woman, attracted or repelled by the idea of a real, naked, honest to goodness bum in such close proximity to us.
But a great, great artist, I have realized, is one who can evoke such a bum and cause such stirring in a line drawing only. No rococo shading and texture, or Botticelliesque nonsense, just a simple collection of lines on paper that magically produce a sense memory of something so visceral it can actually arouse.
Aubrey Beardsley could do it. Picasso could do it. Cocteau could do it. And Andy Warhol can do it.
Leafing through the pages of this book was a revelation for me. I knew Andy was a genius of that curious and now much-copied fusion of art, pop culture, celebrity and kitsch, but – and I am feeling like my mother even writing this – I hadn’t ever realized he was so good at drawing.
I have already cited my criteria for greatness in this area, so let me just say that Andy Warhol is truly great: he can do brilliant bums.
Whether it is his longing for them, or indeed the sheer volume that passed so close to his dark-glassed eyes that makes his reproduction of them so evocative I know not. All I know is they float my boat.
But this book is not just a celebration of the anus. It takes a more holistic view of man seen through the Warhol prism.
His male nude photographs are at once intimate and raw, the subjects’ faces rarely seen. Of course, that makes it easier for the focus to stay with what Andy wants us to concentrate on: the member, the pudendum, the cock.
(I feel it is my duty to warn you there are a lot of cocks in this book, and whether you are a fan of them or not, you must agree Andy shot some quite nice ones.)
But just as he became famous for pointing out the beauty and weirdness of material objects we had previously thought mundane, here we have a collection where Andy can fascinate and mesmerize us with not just the beauty and weirdness of that absurd muscle we boys all have in our underwear, but the faces the owners of those muscles choose to project to the world.
The series of pictures of drag queens is so endearing - partly because it differs from the slightly detached, objectifying feel of most of Warhol’s photography - and we share the joy these boys feel at having someone simply take an interest in them.
Desire is big in this volume: Andy’s for the men he shoots and draws, the men’s to please him.
But an even bigger emotion is joy, Andy’s that is. He obviously loved men. And like his pictures of soup cans and brillo pads he forces us to reconsider that men, and all their essences, are pretty extraordinary.
This is a fascinating collection from a man who understood the value of capturing the everyday for tomorrow. How lucky we are. Enjoy!