Search for content, post, videos

Galerie David Guiraud : Between Academicism, Eroticism and Pornography


The David Guiraud Gallery announces the first exhibition planned as part of the project carried out on the representation of the male body in the history of photography (exhibition 1/8).

The first exhibition of the project led by the gallery determines the reasons which led to the creation of the first images representing a male body in the history of photography. In the 19th century, artists rarely signed their work produced on the subject, so the gallery opted for a thematic approach in the inventory and classification of the original prints, which made it possible to identify academicism, eroticism , pornography, sport and finally science as so many fields which have contributed to the emergence of masculine representations.

The study of the model becomes central in the analysis of the image, his position, his attitude, his environment make it possible to determine, with the study of the paper, a theme and a period. they becomes a notion, a standard model, which applies to each theme encountered: the academic, erotic, pornographic, sporting and scientific model. They are not alibis but on the contrary, they are the objective and often commercial reasons for the production of masculine images until the turn of the 20th century, before the emergence of creative artists.

The exhibition presents three of the main themes encountered at this time and highlights the thematic and chronological shift from one type of model to another. Establishing a first connection between academic – erotic – pornographic models allows us to cover a wide spectrum of creations on the male body and to consider a logic and an evolution (with exhibition no. 2 on the sports model) which gives a place for most of the images encountered at that time.

The chapters of the exhibition:

The academic model or model for painters is a revolution in the study of fine arts. Thanks to photography, the model (man, woman, child) is frozen in different poses and can be used anywhere and at any time, for an unlimited period and at an incomparable cost. This is one of the rare times where some big names reveal themselves on this theme in the 19th century: Durieu, Marconi, Igout, … These artists offer the first series of naked men in the history of photography

-The erotic model visibly leaves the academic framework and expresses a more marked sensuality, with poses and stagings that evoke desire and seduction. At this time the erotic model was essentially feminine, but we found its masculine counterpart which emerged between the academic model and the sports model from which it was often inspired. The model is naked, without erection and most often alone. It is both an idealised image  and an essential milestone in history.

-The appearance of the porn model in the studio is only possible thanks to the multiple professional studios that spread across Paris at that time. Photography is a complex and expensive technique that is not yet practiced by everyone. The first pornographic images appear and show a naked model, erect and interacting with a partner. It is often staged by the photographer as part of a particular fantasy (sailors, soldiers, religious, etc.) in his studio or inside one of the many brothels in the capital. The intrusion of the photographer into brothels, the purpose of which was to create catalogs for the brothels’ clientele, is perhaps at the origin of the pornographic image industry which then appeared. It is essentially heterosexual but, in this exhibition, it is the first homosexual images that we are interested in.

The amateur porn model appears, for his part, with the advent of flexible negatives and cameras intended for the greatest number of people. The devices were popularized by Kodak, first in 1888, then in 1898 with the Kodak Folding Pocket. Many amateurs then begin creating erotic and/or pornographic images, exploring their own vision of the male body and homosexuality. These photos offer a more intimate and realistic insight into the sexuality and eroticism of the time.

Following the journey of the models of Vincenzo Galdi and Wilhelm von Pluschow is interesting when we notice their presence in pornographic images, whereas we encountered them more in the classic and simply erotic compositions of the two pioneers of male photography. It is possible to think that Galdi and Pluschow had an unofficial and hitherto unknown production of pornographic images. Or that the models were professionals and that they worked for different studios. The investigation has only just begun!


The exhibition will run until November 4 and from November 15 to December 23, 2023.

The exhibition will be part of the official Photo Days itinerary in November 2023.


David Guiraud Gallery
5, rue du Perche
75003 Paris
01 42 71 78 62

[email protected]

Tuesday / Saturday – 2:30 p.m. / 7 p.m.

Create an account or log in to read more and see all pictures.

Install WebApp on iPhone
Install WebApp on Android