Not going to lie. I laughed when I discovered the story of Il Sodoma. Not because I was laughing at the artist. Because I was laughing at the story of his name. As you’ve probably already guessed, Il Sodoma was not the artist’s actual name. No, he was born Giovanni Antonio Bazzi in Italy in 1477, and in his lifetime he became a well regarded High Renaissance painter. He also often found himself in the company of “boys and beardless youths, whom he loved more than was decent”. Hence the nickname.
What’s fascinating about Bazzi is that he apparently revelled in the nickname. It was bestowed on him by rival artists as a joke due to their dislike of him. But Brazzi adopted it and claimed it as him own. Today, he’s still known in art history as Il Sodoma.
Personally, I love this story. I love it when marginalized people reclaim words and language that were meant to oppress them. And I love the idea that Brazzi heard his new nickname, said “Yes please!”, and continued to produce paintings depicting beautiful, sensuous, and mostly naked young men. Live your truth Il Sodoma. Live your truth.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!