This well-known photo by German photographer Wilhelm Von Gloeden (1856-1931) is not of a young Sicilian girl, but of a boy dressed as a Sicilian girl. It’s one example of more than 3000 photos Von Gloeden took in Sicily from the 1890s through to his death in 1931. Von Gloeden lived and worked in Taormina for most of his adult life, photographing landscapes and pastoral portraits, documenting events such as the 1908 earthquake in Messina, and creating studies of nude Sicilian boys posed in various scenes that recall Greek and Roman antiquity. Needless to say, his photos are quite controversial, and in 1933, Mussolini’s Fascist police confiscated and destroyed more than 2000 of Von Gloeden’s prints, citing them as pornographic.
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That’s a wonderful example of fine photography. Very creative and emotional. I was wondering what was on his mind – yeah, I knew it was a boy as soon as I looked at it. (Maybe that’s reading Huck Finn!) And it’s sad that the fascists destroyed some of his many photographs – because they were pornographic? Sounds like the American fascists now. 🙂
Von Gloeden’s photos are very beautiful. He had an affinity for boys and young men… and although the photos that I’ve seen are presented beautifully, I question how much the Sicilians who participated in them understood his “point of view,” if you will. It is understood that he paid his models well. In the end though, it is very sad that so many were destroyed because they do capture beautiful images of life in Sicily a hundred years ago.