On Fifty-seventh Street the male nude may be superseding his female counterpart as an object for casual erotic daydreams in art. Gay culture has its part in this, but the new male eroticism also has a transcultural appeal. Women’s bodies don’t any longer work so very well as decor. The public now spends its days dressed in his-and-her business suits, and is bored by both the pre-feminist view of woman as a tasty morsel in the boudoir and the feminist idea of a woman’s body as a battlefield over which the sexual wars are waged. In the paintings of Rainer Fetting and the photographs of Bruce Weber— which were at the Marlborough and Robert Miller galleries in September—the male nude has the chic of a newly hatched subject.

Rainer Fetting’s Stunde der Rose (“Hour of the Rose”) shows a dark-haired boy lying in the buff on a couch, a glass of red wine in one hand, a red rose at his...

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