Favourite Things

Edouard Detaille's Vive l'empereur (1891)

commissioned by THE GOOD WEEKEND, Melbourne; unpublished due to use of the word 'precum'

When Brad Pitt rages forth into mock heroic battle in yet another Hollywood Hormonal Digital Fantasy, I wonder if he leaks precum as his hugging bodice is wracked by thrusting blades. While Hollywood is an easy target for those glistening male-o-dramas, European high culture offers equally hysterical glorifications of war. Standing in front of Edouard Detaille's massive Vive l'empereur (1891) invites similar loin-quivering. Exploiting the 'impossible-snapshot' of the frozen hyper-drama in Romantic oil rendering, the painting places one side-on as a cavalry exits stage-left. The horses' vein-ridden necks shoot adrenaline energy, connecting to the terse jaw lines of their riders. A deafening silence roars from their gaping mouths as they are posited like gaping sex-mannequins waiting for their facial bath. Their rouge marks them as mortician's cadavers. Like all heroes in war, they're going to die with a hard-on. And they did. Their sons now star in Lord of the Anal Rings.

Text © Philip Brophy. Image © Edouard Detaille & Art Gallery of New South Wales.