Theater of Cruelty

Are you getting horny now?

The Art of the Erotic
Forfatter: Diane Fortenberry (red.)
Forlag: Phaidon (USA)
What is erotic art? Yes – the art you get horny about is the answer in The Art of the Erotic.


Using a number of quotes from everyone from Picasso to historian Kenneth Clark (The Nude. A Study in Ideal Form, 1956), believes Rowan Dorothy Pelling, author of the Preface i The Art of the Erotic, to have broken the code for what is erotic art. There is a clear distinction between eroticism and pornography, she writes – which "is about whether the work exceeds its limits or physical limitations": "As much as what we see and know, eroticism is about what we do. not looking and knowing. This forces us to wonder at the dynamics between the creator and the subject; the finished work and the spectator standing in front of it and certainly being sexually aroused by the work revealed. "

Nice selection. Although the foreword is sometimes quite cryptically worded and adorned with many well-known quotes, I disagree with the conclusion: Being horny from seeing a painting, a performance or an installation is the core point of Pelling, who believes this is the very definition of what can be is called "erotic art": that it seems sexually arousing. Pornography, in turn, is "kinetic"; something that screams from the walls of all its lonely populism.

The seducer in Correggios Jupiter and Io is a bleak, gray cloud in a dark and threatening sky.

Even I can't remember ever being horny from looking at neither a marble-white statue on top of Apollo or any of Munch's paintings; in this book illustrated with the kind painting Kiss, not Madonna or Puberty, which engages me more. Perhaps it is the aftermath of the Victorian strangeness that has characterized the lady in the editorial chair, also considering the selection of works presented? For example, Sally Mann is left out (too pornographic, perhaps?), While Georgia O'Keeffe is incorporated with the work Black iris, which is one of the more subtle erotic works the painter has created. On the whole, there are many relatively beautiful pictures that define editorial-
dare Diane Fortenberry's erotic universe.

Welcome inside. Preface Author Pelling has a more tabloid background than Fortenberry. She has attended a women's boarding school in Kent, taken a degree in literary history at St. Hugh's College in Oxford and worked in Independent on Sunday, Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and GQ. She has also been the editor of the magazine Erotic Review (1997–2004) and this year started the magazine The Amorist, whose online site is not completely different from Norwegian Cupidos. She and I are the same age, but obviously have a somewhat different view of eroticism.

The Art of the Erotic is a great reference book for those interested in erotica. It takes us through several of the important epochs of art history and presents readers with names many will enjoy knowing.

Boken does not open from right to left, as usual, but in the middle, from a small crack in the middle. The cover is black and has a bronze undercover. To tackle The Art of the Erotic is almost like unfolding a woman's abdomen. The cover is actually the sexiest of all the features – an elegantly executed, brilliant idea.

Opening the book is like unfolding a woman's abdomen.

Old new. After the preface, we go straight to the eroticism of the art world, or perhaps better: the underworld. From Venus from Milo (130-120 BC), which hints at fertility and surplus of female forms, via Pompeii's erotic mosaic (which in its time served as advertising posters for local services) to Andy Warhol's so-called homoerotic Querelle from 1982, which really only shows a kiss between two men. Here there are many Renaissance paintings with ivory white and fleshy female forms, eager men and small cherubim that pinch the women in the chest long before the scenes that led to MeToo. But also Schiele, Dalí and Magritte works. More interesting is Lucian Freuds Two women (1992) 'Louise Bourgeois' Arch of Hysteria (1993) and Sarah Lucas' Bunny Gets Snookered # 10 (1997) – all honorable exceptions from the collection's otherwise somewhat ornate profile. From his own point of view, this is a book that in many ways undercommunicates sexuality, and limits it to what we already know and have seen. This also applies to most of the artists included in the book.

Fun with the boys. But not all, fortunately: The Warren Cup is a Roman bowl from 15 BC. showing men having sex with young boys. For a long time, the object was hidden from the public eye in private collections, before it was finally purchased and shown to the public at the British Museum in 1999. Antonio Correggios Jupiter and Io is another interesting work, in which the seducer is neither a beautiful youth nor a modern streakman, but a gloomy, gray cloud in a dark and threatening sky. A slightly scary, diffuse and foggy hand extends towards the woman's porcelain white back. These two examples are more conducive to discussions of eroticism than all the shapely ladies of the world, although brushstrokes and light in the paintings they appear in are as divine as the angels in heaven above them.

Do not want. But times are changing. From the soft, white beauties, the journey quickly continues to Japan and drawings of women surrounded by octopuses, on to colorful expressionism, via pop art before it finally ends – to my great delight – by Anish Kapoor's beautiful wall sculpture Hysterical Sexual from 2016.

The book's greatest weakness is the preface, which in many ways defines what erotic art is, and the most subjective. And with its selection, what it is not. But all in all is The Art of the Erotic a nice addition to the book collection – and the cover is, as I said, almost ingenious – even if the hottest feelings were absent.
Marstrander is a freelance writer.

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