May 24, 2018

Enrico Natali: Accidental Beefcake

Enrico Natali was born in Utica, New York in 1933, and moved to New York in 1954.  His photographs of people on the New York Subway were published in 1960.  During the next decade, he traveled to several cities in the U.S. to photograph real people engaging in their daily activities, producing moments frozen in time.  His most acclaimed, Detroit 1968, was recently republished.

His world depicts the heterosexual male gaze, with women outnumbering the men, and the men mostly in couples.  There is no one obviously gay, except maybe this short-short and bulge number.

But male beauty leaks through anyway, as if it is impossible to keep it hidden, regardless of what the artist intends or hopes for.

It's accidental beefcake.

And who's to say which of the pairs living their lives in the dark days of 1968 didn't care for each other like that?

In the 1970s Natali gave up photography to concentrate on Zen Buddhist meditation. In 1990s he and his wife moved to the Matilija Canyon, in Ojai, California, where they opened a Zen meditation center (the Blue Heron Zen Center

His oldest son Vincenzo Natali is a writer and director known for horror movies and tv series such as  Cube and Darknet.  His Splice is about a genetically-modified being who changes gender.

In 2000, his youngest son Andrei suggested that they go on a photography tour together.   Andrei died in an auto accident in 2005, but Enrico continued the project, and in 2015, presented Just Looking: Photographs of the American Landscape.

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