Russia’s assault on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has not, after all, dominated the Sochi Winter Olympics – not yet anyway. Despite all the advance comment, once the sports start it seems that the world television audience switches off its brain and enjoys the skiing.
Perhaps art is a better battleground than sport. Because, if it observes the terms of its ban on the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to the young, Russia should censor a couple of the greatest artistic masterpieces in its finest museum, where they can be seen by susceptible people of all ages.
Caravaggio’s painting The Lute Player is a jewel of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. It also happens to be one of his most luxuriantly homoerotic works. A youth plays the lute, its music being a symbol of love in Caravaggio’s age: “If music be the food of love, play on…”
But what kind of love? Not the kind that’s OK with the Russian Duma. Caravaggio lingers on the youth’s big eyes, on the pretty scarf that ties his curly hair and on the loose shirt that reveals….. READ MORE ON JONATHAN JONES ART BLOG