Following the great success of the previous year, London’s Sotheby decided, on February 14th, to repeat the exhibition and sale of sex art pieces.
“We were planning to hold them every other year,” said Constantine Frangos, the curator who organized the exposition. “But we had so many demands, from both buyers and sellers, that we put together a second auction a year later.”
Usually, as Constantine himself explains, provocative and transgressive images are not bestsellers and, despite the public gladly accept them, they never reach great prices in auction. But if these scandalous works are exhibited next to a sex scene expertly painted by Picasso or alongside a drawing of an ink orgy by Pavel Tchelitchew, then the interest greatly increases.
“If you look at the coverage of certain works—if they were put in another sale, they would be lost. Here, they’re highlighted.”
Erotic art and sexual photography have always been object of discussion. The erotic theme arouses a great deal of interest and curiosity by of the observer, who, however, is too often intimidated or embarrassed, without grasping the purely artistic aspect. After all, the images of naked men and women appear since the born of artistic production.
In the enormous pot of the sexual art, I bring you some of the examples that I loved and appreciated the most:
Man Ray was, during his career, a sculptor and a painter greatly influenced by Cubism, Futurism, Dada and Surrealism. Despite the aforementioned arts, I want to remember Man Ray today for his controversial photographs. Ray was a great innovator in the twenties in photography. In fact, he made a large quantity of images with the technique called “rayograms” or “rayographies”. This particular technique consisted in placing objects on photographic paper while exposing them to different lights. This method produced strong light-shade images, very intriguing and definitely suitable for portraying Man Ray’s nude muses.
One of the greatest sources of inspiration for the art of Pablo Picasso were, undoubtedly, women. He painted many of them in his life. Particularly interesting are the sketches where the painter’s imagination seems to be more intriguing: a young lady stretched out on a bed abandon herself to pleasure while a group of cubist people has multiple intercourses.
Painter Egon Schiele was a major nude painter of the early 20th century. Schiele, through a nervous but energetic trait, shows us portraits and self-portraits of uninhibited, shouted, almost joyless sexuality. Needless to say that his works so dark, yellow and pale, greatly shook the traditional aesthetic canons.
If you don’t know Mapplethorpe, you’ve lost a lot!
Mapplethorpe wasn’t just a controversial-subject photographer with a great desire to provoke, he wasn’t just the ‘biggest’ in erotic and bdsm photography, but he was also a great, great lover of formalism. He was very attentive to the composition, the chromatic approach, the balance of the whole image and he was a true lover of pure beauty.
Shunga: Kitagawa Utamaro
Shunga, (春 画) is the name used to describe Japanese erotic art, especially the art of prints. The word literally means “painting of spring”, a clear reference to sexuality. Kitagawa Utamaro was, in the second half of the 1700s, one of the most famous print artists, especially sexual.
Themes of love, sex, japanese bondage, natural beauty, and female nudes inspired Nobuyoshi Araki since his very first days as a photographer in 1960’s.
“Women? Well, they are gods. They will always fascinate me. As for rope, I always have it with me. Even when I forget my film, the rope is always in my bag,” Araki said “Since I can’t tie their hearts up, I tie their bodies up instead.”