” In art, immorality cannot exist.
Art is always sacred”
SEX IN ART:
- Body art
- Erotic Cinema
- Erotic Comics and Caricatures
- Erotic Illustrations and Photography
- Erotic literature
- Erotic paintings
- India: Kama Sutra
- Modern Erotic Art
- Pin-Up Art
- Sex and Erotic Art Museums
- The Ancient Civilisations
- The Far East
Sex art covers any artistic work including paintings, sculptures, photographs, music, writings, illustrations and postcards that is intended to evoke erotic arousal or that depicts scenes of love-making.
Defining erotic art is difficult since perceptions of both what is erotic and what is art fluctuate. A sculpture of a phallus in some African cultures may be considered a traditional symbol of potency though not overtly erotic. Erotic Netsuke made of mammoth ivory sculptured in Japan. In addition, a distinction is often made between erotic art and pornography (which also depicts scenes of love-making and is intended to evoke erotic arousal, but is not usually considered art). The distinction may lie in intent and message; erotic art intended as pieces of art, encapturing formal elements of art, and drawing on other historical artworks. Pornography may also use these tools, but is primarily intended to arouse one sexually. Nevertheless, these elements of distinction are highly subjective. For instance, Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court of the United States, in attempting to explain “hard-core” pornography, or what is obscene, famously wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced , but I know it when I see it.”
Among the oldest surviving examples of erotic depictions are Paleolithic cave paintings and carvings, but many cultures have created erotic art. The ancient Greeks painted sexual scenes on their ceramics, many of them famous for being some of the earliest depictions of same-sex relations and pederasty, and there are numerous sexually explicit paintings on the walls of ruined Roman buildings in Pompeii. The Moche of Peru in South America are another ancient people that sculpted explicit scenes of sex into their pottery. There is an entire gallery devoted to pre-Columbian erotic ceramics (Moche culture) in Lima at the Larco Museum. Additionally, there has been a long tradition of erotic painting among the Eastern cultures. In Japan, for example, shunga appeared in the 13th century and continued to grow in popularity until the late 19th century when photography was invented. Similarly, the erotic art of China reached its popular peak during the latter part of the Ming Dynasty. In India, the famous Kama Sutra is an ancient sex manual that is still popularly read throughout the world. In Europe, starting with the Renaissance, there was a tradition of producing erotica for the amusement of the aristocracy.
In the early 16th century, the text I Modi was an woodcut album created by the designer Giulio Romano, the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi and the poet Pietro Aretino. In 1601 Caravaggio painted the “Amor Vincit Omnia,” for the collection of the Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani. The tradition is continued by other, more modern painters, such as Fragonard, Courbet, Millet, Balthus, Picasso, Edgar Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Egon Schiele, who served time in jail and had several works destroyed by the authorities for offending turn-of-the-century Austrian mores with his depiction of nude young girls. At the 20th Century, photography became the most interesting media for erotic art. Publishers like Taschen did a democratic display of erotic arts and erotic photography.
Today, erotic artists thrive, although, in some circles, much of the genre is still not as accepted as the more standard genres of art such as portraiture and landscape. During the last few centuries, society has broadened its view of what can be considered as art and several new styles developed during the 1800s such as Impressionism and Realism. This has given today’s artists a broader, almost infinite, spectrum with which to work.