Saturday, August 11, 2007

The quest for art that excites...

At the moment, this artist is still learning to produce pretty pictures of attractive guys. It dawned on me recently that in order to ultimately produce memorable works of erotic art, I will need to investigate the very definition of the concept.

Erotic art was one of mankind's first handicrafts. The Paleolithic "Venus of Willendorf" with her "unbridled erotic force" is considered a traditional symbol of potency, more than a work of art. Today, the term erotica is often seen as neutral or even good, while pornography is always bad. Finding a workable definition of erotic art seems tricky. It seems to have a lot to do with chemical desire and concerned with sexual stimulation, or arousal.

Freud is famous for his theory of the Id, Ego, and Superego. Later in his career he scrapped this theory and supplanted it with drive theory. He said that everything boiled down to twin urges toward Eros and Thanatos, best translated as pleasure and aggression. So erotic means the desire of pleasure, and only sometimes sexual pleasure - or in the case of art, art that evokes desire. Simple pleasures can have sexual overtones. One example is the zipper - considered quite erotic when it was introduced. Opening something is inherently pleasurable, for example, unwrapping a gift.

Morality or drawing the line between the "erotica" and "pornography" is not the goal of this post, however "erotic art" seems to hover somewhere between these concepts. The definition is highly subjective, varies for different cultures, and changes globally every year. Luckily each person can decide for themselves what they consider to be art and whether they find it erotic or not.

We have become bombarded with an daily avalanche of images, it becomes hard (no pun) for aspiring artist like myself to produce art that still touches us where it counts. How do I translate the erotic charge or thrill of a glimpse, stolen in the locker room and share that experience through my work, while still keeping it in the domain of "popular" art.

So erotic means the desire of pleasure, or in the case of art, art that evokes desire. The successful artist should give us enough hints to allow the viewer to find the erotic in the work.

Just some of my thoughts... Let me know yours.

Related Links:

Wikipedia: Erotic Art
Wikipedia: Erotic
Wikipedia: Homoeroticism


Gerald Dean said...

i wonder if it's because i'm a scorpio that i think of all art as erotic. it can't be helped, to render a subject faithfully it must be loved. maybe not a prurient love but still it has its erotic antecedents. if you connect with the subject, if the materials "flow" if it all comes together in an orgasmic high of new understanding... isn't that what art is? it can be overwhelming at times. maybe that's when it gets pornographic. when we fetishize what is otherwise wholly seually relevent for what works to have gotten us off in the past but doesn't still work. does that make any sense? can we be artsexuals? is that too wrong a thing to be comfortable in being?

Rudy said...

Makes perfect sense. Read somewhere recently that real art is the process of making art - not the end product. While painting I often feel the presence of another force from somewhere beyond my understanding that takes over, guides my hand and dictates the outcome. This is when art "flows" and I become a spectator to the creation of my own work. A little scary but not uncomfortable... like waking up from a trance and covered in paint. It may also just be the turpentine fumes getting to me :)

Gemini Art said...

Rudy, I love your discussion of this topic. I find it a very fine and delicate line that artists must find between "tasteful" erotic art and "tasteless" vulgar pornography. I think erotic art always appeals to a higher sensibility. It appeals to a higher sense of aesthetic in addition to the sexual appeal of the subject. I believe that if the image blatantly appeals to the sexual senses with no other redeeming qualities then it crosses the line to pornography.