Erotic art is part of the broad fields of visual art. Like other art forms, erotic art is subjective in its definition. It is generally understood that the term intends to evoke sexual arousal. You can see eroticism in drawings, engravings, films, paintings, photographs and sculptures.
Erotic art is generally considered taboo in many societies, terming it amoral or too pornographic for public consumption. Hence, it is often slapped with heavy restrictions in terms of creation, distribution, and possession. Despite these restrictions, erotic art has enjoyed massive patronage from art fans.
This article provides more details about this art form and the top 10 modern erotic art you can find out there.
What is erotic art?
As previously stated, defining erotic is difficult because the term is subjective. What constitutes as erotic for one might just be a mere symbol to another and vice versa. For instance, a drawing of a naked woman may be erotic for some people. But it can just be a mere demonstration of the female anatomy to scientists.
However, Oxford Academic defines erotic art as art which aims to engage viewers sexually through explicit sexual content and succeeds to some extent in doing so. Erotic art and pornography are often not considered the same, even though both intend to arouse sexual feelings in viewers. Pornography is often not considered a fine art.
Top 10 modern erotic art
1. Clinical Study, towards a Heroic-Erotic Monument in the Academic/Comics Style (1965)
Clinical Study, towards a Heroic-Erotic Monument in the Academic/Comics Style is an erotic drawing created by American Pop artist, Claes Oldenburg. Created with a ballpoint pen to give sharp definition to the characters and to mimic a cartoon, the drawing shows a group of females straddling a giant, flaccid penis. According to ArtSpace, the drawing was inspired after Odenburg visited Washington, D.C., while working on his early performance piece Stars (1963; also known as Cleaners).
2. Touch (1975)
Joan Semmel painted Touch as a way to protest against the “sexploitation” of women in the pornography industry. For most of the 1960s, the artist was living in Spain. She returned to New York City in the early 1970s and was shocked at the way the porn industry was using women’s bodies against them. As a feminist, Semmel painted Touch to depict a woman’s sexual desire, rather than that of a man, to unsettle the traditional gender power structures by placing the woman’s leg over the man’s torso.
3. Office Love (1976)
Office Love was created by Australian artist, Helmut Newton. The painting shows a woman and a man having sex in a conference or meeting room. The woman is partially undressed and lies on the edge of a long table as the man leans over, embraces her and kisses the side of her torso. Newton intended the painting to arouse because he believed that sex is the most important thing in the world, a matter of life and death.
4. Made in Heaven (1991)
Jeff Koons created Made in Heaven, alongside other series of erotic works to mark his marriage with former porn star and Italian MP, Ilona Staller (Cicciolina). The poster shows a naked Koon in a sexual position with his scantily clad wife.
5. My Bed (1998)
My Bed was created by British artist, Tracey Emin. According to The Collector, Emin got inspired after lying in bed, having sex and drinking herself into oblivion. Taking a look at the disorder in her bedroom, she realised that she had unintentionally created a masterpiece. Her artwork shows her bedroom consisting of her bed, condoms, discarded underwear, and empty bottles. My Bed became Emin’s most famous work and first went on display at the Tate Gallery in London in 1999. Later on, media mogul and art collector, Charles Saatchi, bought it for £150,000 and exhibited it in one of his galleries. In 2014, My Bed was sold for £2.5 million at Christie’s.
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6. Kiss (2001)
Kiss was created by Cosey Fanni Tutti, whose real name is Christine Carol Newby. Tutti was a stripper and glamour model for both film and print before she made a career as a visual artist. Drawing from her stripping days, Tutti believes there is a blurred line between art and life. Tutti aims to reveal the underbelly of the porn industry through her works. Kiss is one of her numerous works of art that looks at the porn industry from both an insider’s and outsider’s views.
7. WOMEN Words (2002 and 2013)
WOMEN Words was created by American artist, Betty Tompkins. Tompkins is a controversial feminist artist who often creates art which embodies the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Her WOMEN Words series strives to capture attitudes towards women in recent years. To create this project, Tompkins appealed to both friends and foes. She made a collection which she superimposed on famous paintings of female figures. This collection aims to explore, reveal and portray the whole spectrum of attitudes towards women, ranging from funny to dark.
8. Passage (2004)
English painter, Jenny Saville courted, controversy way before she left art school. With her main focus on the female form in all its shapes, sizes and distortions, Saville loves to paint nudes. In an interview, the controversial British artist revealed her fascination with hermaphrodites and transvestites. Hence, her fascination led to the creation of Passage, an erotic art depicting a transvestite with real genitals and false breasts.
9. Those Who Suffer Love (2009)
In 2009, Emin displayed what has been considered her most shocking erotic art, Those Who Suffer Love. The art is an animated sequence of Emin’s drawings of a woman masturbating. A dirty homage to Egon Schiele, the work of art is a poetic image of loneliness and pleasure.
10. Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires (2012)
This erotic art was created by the African-American artist, Mickalene Thomas, who was inspired by the glamour of her mother. Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires celebrates female sexuality, sensuality, beauty and power. With this painting, Thomas is saying women can own their sexuality because they are strong and beautiful.