Art and sexuality have maintained a close connection with each other for centuries. Here, we will look into some of the major artists, who have made an impact in erotic art and created a revolution through their artworks.
Rembrandt¹ is a prolific painter, draftsman, and etcher. He is one of the famous artists of sexuality and art belonging to Holland's Golden Age. He is an excellent storyteller who is also known as a painter of light and shade. Besides, Rembrandt was an artist who focused on depicting Dutch realism without any compromises. He is a supreme portraitist, widely influenced by the Baroque Paintings, a style inspired by Caravaggio.
He brought in sexually explicit representations through his works like The French Bed and The Monk in the Cornfield. As he completed these artworks in the 1640s, the people considered them pornographic.
Another popular painting by Rembrandt is the Jewish Bride. It is an artwork that has gained an appreciation for its tenderness from Vincent van Gogh.
Other than that, Rembrandt was an artist who diverged from the traditional ways of portraying women’s beauty. For instance, when he brought Susanna from The Book of Daniel to life, he shifted from the classical ideals of beauty. Instead, he presented Sussana as a woman of flesh and blood different from how others represented women’s beauty in the 17th century.
Besides, he is renowned for his Biblical artworks and etchings. Rembrandt is also famous for his self-portraits that dive deeper into human characters. He has worked in several other painting genres, ranging from portraits to landscape paintings too.
A 20th-century Austrian expressionist painter, portrait artist, draftsman, and printmaker, Egon Schiele is a famous artist of sexual art. Schiele brought eroticism beautifully to his figurative works. Besides, Schiele was also a significant contributor to the Vienna Secession Movement.
Some of his important works² include The Self Seer, The Cardinal, and Nun, and Embrace. Other than these, he has also contributed as an expressionist artist. They include Pregnant Woman and Death, Self-Portrait, Girl with Black Hair, Dead City III, Mourning woman, etc. Schiele was also an artist who brought in an animalistic intensity through his nude paintings.
In some of his paintings, he brings in a disturbing nature, including the representation of a bleeding left arm in his self-portraits, like Eros (1911) and Nude (1910).
Schiele’s representation of women might seem grotesque. But, he was an artist who puts women at the center of his artworks. His nude portrait, Woman with Black Stockings, where Schiele represents the model in a position not often chosen by male artists during that time. Besides, his artworks, in general, depict emotional and sexual honesty.
Joan Semmel³ is yet another famous artist of sexuality and art who focused on creating absurd paintings. The female body, desire, aging, and other erotic concept are the main themes Semmel worked on.
Semmel was also a part of the feminist art movement and strived to bring a change through gender equality-based art groups. Besides, she has done a lot of research on women's erotic art, and her paintings endeavor to voice the need to express eroticism in its true sense.
Her works try to move beyond the objectification of women by the mass media.
For instance, works like Self Image and Mythologies and Me represent the public's view on women. Here, she focuses on how these perspectives regulate women's bodies as well. Another interesting factor to consider while looking into this artist of sexual art is that she painted works based on the sexual experiences and discriminations she faced. First and Second Erotic Series, Portraits, Figure in Landscape, Gymnasium, Locker Room are some of Semmel's famous works.
Roberto Ferri is an Italian painter who brings in a connection between art and sexuality. He gained inspiration from Baroque painters. He started his journey as a painter without seeking any formal lessons in painting until he moved to Rome in 1999.
He moved forward as a painter after performing an in-depth analysis of different forms of paintings from various times ranging from romanticism to symbolism. Along with these, Ferri captures the spectators with an element of dramatic eroticism.
Being an artist who emphasized ancient paintings, he blended ancient and modern ideas into his paintings. Through his painting techniques, he represents human anatomy vividly, especially by employing his mastery of colors. His famous works include Narcissus, The Son of Morning, Achille, Martire, etc.,
Breaking free from traditional techniques, Edouard Manet was a French painter who focused on contemporary subjects. Besides, Manet was an impressionist painter who looked into Parisian life in detail.
Unlike other artists of his time, he diverged from academism. Instead, he focused on representing nudity by bringing in mythological scenes.
The Luncheon on the Grass, painted in 1862, is Manet’s masterpiece. Here, he portrays a naked woman having lunch with two fully dressed men in the woods. There is another woman in the background of this image.
Olympia is yet another masterpiece by Manet, a famous artist of sexuality and art. He brings in a demimondaine, an educated prostitute, with a servant next to her holding a bouquet from her clients. Even though the subject matter of this painting wasn’t new, the style adopted by the artist created a lot of criticisms. In this painting, Olympia doesn’t show her genitalia, which positions her as dominating.
“I paint what I see, and not what others like to see,” is something Manet used to say, which is evident when we look at his artworks. It is because his artworks were not based on the viewpoints presented by people during his time. Instead, Manet concentrated on maintaining his artworks as unique as possible.
Bringing together modern art and scientific elements, Jules Lefebvre is a French painter with an in-depth knowledge of traditional art. During his time, he was honored several times for his artistic caliber and even gained the French Legion of Honor in 1898.
Lefebvre was a famous artist who brought in the connection between art and sexuality through his nude paintings. His most appreciated works include Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Reclining Woman, Truth, etc.,
Roman Charity⁴ is a painting by Lefebvre diverging from the Biblical representations as its name might suggest. Instead, he focuses on ancient paganism, where he looked into the story of Cimon and Pero, his daughter.
Cover image from Unsplash