SEX in art

In Greek mythology, Eros was the god of sexual love and beauty. His name, Eros, means "desire" and it is from here that the word erotica stems: art in which the main theme is sex. Erotica has forever been, and continues to be, a controversial topic, stirring debate on what should be considered art and what should be considered pornography. Controversial topics are just what this section is about, so we've taken a closer look at the contributions by European artists to the world of erotica.

Photo: Sitzender weiblicher Akt, by Egon Schiele (PD)
Egon Schiele's work stirred controversy

Sex has been depicted in art for centuries, from cave paintings, ancient Roman and Greek work, and Japanese "shunga" art from the 17-19th centuries, to today's array of artists famous for their intimate artwork, as well as a number of museums dedicated to showing erotic art. Sex used in and as art has caused controversy more often that not - for instance, the artist Egon Schiele, whose work was considered pornographic, had his drawing burned up by a judge in court. World renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's photographies sparked a debate in the US on whether the government should sponsor "obscene" art in the 1980s, and in 16th century Italy, artist Marcantonio Raimondi was imprisoned for a book containing illustrations of sexual positions. 

There is clearly an ambiguity on what is art and what is not, and although sexuality today is not as controversial as it was a few centuries, or even decades ago, erotic art - ranging from hints of nudity to depictions playing with the boundaries of pornography - remains a provocative topic that stirs debate. Controversial or not, there are several types of erotic art today; sex has an artistic connotation in literature, movies, paintings as well as in photography, and several genres have developed, such as BDSM and fetish art. We've looked up some exciting artists in Europe who've made a name in the world of erotica, and present a list below. Perhaps you need a new painting in your living room to brighten up your place?

Photo: i love paintings (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Homosexuality in art

exciting artists:

Ellen von Unwerth, Germany 

Julião Sarmento, Portugal

Egon Schiele, Austria

Quimet Sabaté, Spain

Marlene Dumas, South Africa/Netherlands

Luis Royo, Spain

Sardax, United Kingdom

John Willie, United Kingdom

Roberto Baldazzini, Italy

Tom of Finland, Finland

Tracey Emin, United Kingdom/Cyprus

Walter Hirsch, Sweden

Photo: rummenigge (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Ecstasy, by Dutch/South African artist Marlene Dumas

erotic museums in europe:

Amsterdam, Sex Museum

Barcelona, Museu de l'Erotica

Berlin, Beate Uhse Erotikmuseum

Paris, Musée de l'Erotisme

Prague, Sex Machines Museum

Stockholm, Jorma Toivonen's garage...

Teaser photo: kimintn (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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