Scroll To Top
Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Elisar von Kupffer's Gay Eden

Artist Spotlight: Elisar von Kupffer's Gay Eden

Elisarion_aussenansichtx633

This turn-of-the-century artist and photographer who created a temple to homosexual love might have bristled at the word gay.

xtyfr

Elisar von Kupffer (1872-1942) dedicated his life to a spiritual vision of a perfect world of male love. Most of his writing, art, and painting supported his utopian view of a dreamy youthful bonding between men in an idyllic setting.

To be sure, men of his social standing in life were permitted greater freedom and self-expression. Focusing on the quasi-intellectual side of his philosophy -- Klarismus (clarity) -- gave his somewhat campy, if not kooky version of a perfect world the safe patina of religion. It was a dreamy world of harmony, eros, and androgynous aesthetics.

He established himself as a muralist in Locarno, Switzerland, with his partner, Eduard von Mayerm and together they created the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion, a combination museum, temple, and artistic retreat in their villa at the Lake Maggiore.

In the center of the villa is a round room that houses his heroic mural Klarwelt der Seligen. The painting depicts 84 nude, youthful men in various states of ethereal ecstasy and affection. There is a series of poems for each grouping and panel of the mural.

These were not the brawny and intimidating Aryan heroes who were soon to be emblematic of the Third Reich. These were cherubic boys that spanned the distance between masculine and feminine. Von Kupffer's vision was not antiwoman. In fact, he believed encouraging men to engage freely in affectionate homosocial friendships would allow them to experience a greater bond with the women in their lives.

In 1981 the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion was established as a museum to house von Kuppfer's work.

Arafroditx633

Arafrodite

Drei-seelen-1913x633

Drei Seelen, 1913

Elisar-von-kupfferandsulla-spiaggiax633

Modeled by von Kupffer (with cane) and a model Sulla Spiaggia

Elisar-von-kupffereduard-von-mayerx633

Von Kupffer and Eduard von Mayer

Autoportrait-as-prince-carnevalx633

Self-portrait as Prinz Carneval

Prinz_carnevalx633

Self-portrait as Prinz Carneval, the painted version

Elisar-von-kupfferas-sebastienx633

Elisar von Kupffer as Saint Sebastian

The-grapes-of-tessin1927x633

The Grapes of Tessin

Elisar-von-kupfferduox633

Young men at play in shorts, garters, and what appears to be an early skort.

Ikone_clarismox633

Ikone Clarismo

Gruftbrueckex633

An interior shot of Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion

Vorhallex633

An interior shot of Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion

Pavillon-auf-dem-monte-veritax633

The pavilion that houses Klarwelt der Seligen

Die-klarwelt-der-seligen-von-kupfers-arcadian-dreams03x633

A panel from Klarwelt der Seligen

Die-klarwelt-der-seligen-von-kupfers-arcadian-dreams04x633

A panel from Klarwelt der Seligen

Die-klarwelt-der-seligen-von-kupfers-arcadian-dreamsx633

A panel from Klarwelt der Seligen

Die-klarwelt-der-seligenvon-kupfers-arcadian-dreams02x633

A panel from Klarwelt der Seligen

Elisar_foto_01x633

Elisar von Kupffer

xtyfr
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Christopher Harrity

Christopher Harrity is the Manager of Online Production for Here Media, parent company to The Advocate and Out. He enjoys assembling online features on artists and photographers, and you can often find him poring over the mouldering archives of the magazines.
Christopher Harrity is the Manager of Online Production for Here Media, parent company to The Advocate and Out. He enjoys assembling online features on artists and photographers, and you can often find him poring over the mouldering archives of the magazines.