Past - Homo Sapiens in Love - exhibition 2011

The representation of sex has penetrated particularly in the western art causing simultaneous public embarrassment and censorship. However, each society perceives differently the representation, based on the culture, the political believes and the religion.

Basic influences:

– In the classic art the presence of pagan gods, that had an immoral behavior and way of life, constituted the vehicle for the Rebirth and afterwards. Characteristic example is the god of Nappy and the erotic scenes between nymphs and satires.

– The work of Ovidius “Metamorphosis”, which is reported in the ancient mythology. Ovidius created with mastery 192 metamorphoses, that is to say “Bodies that changed their appearance”. Brilliant pictures, full of imagination, show the mental situation of panic and the astonishment of beings the moment they transforming, at which they are altered progressively in plant, animal or stone, while the spirit maintains clearly human sentiments.
– The Greek vessels were usually intended for practical use and the issues are mythological. However the homosexual and heterosexual erotic scenes are not attributed with exceptional comfort and liberality. Proportional vessels had been also created by the Etruscans (population of Italy that had already developed an impressive culture since the 8th century).

In the Renaissance the choice of mythological subjects substantially helped the artists to represent their naked forms. Usual subjects were Danae, Jupiter, Venus and Mars, with an aim to be viewed as moral allegories.
On the 18th century the descriptive representation of sex starts to be decreased via the mythology and biblical texts because henceforth the artists are free to select their subjects.

On the 19th century is created a particular relation between artist and model.

Characteristic examples: Mane and his work “Olympia” after the portrait of a famous high class prostitute, Schile entered prison because it painted minors, Klimt, Courbe and Picasso. Moreover the discovery of photograph gave the hallucination “now” and the “truth” but led also to the cheap promotion of pornography.
On the 20th century the artists negotiate sex with two approaches objectively (external view, lived reality) and subjective (internal view). In the second approach the theory of Freud contributed substantially for the importance of sexuality in the human form. Examples of artists:
Louise Bourgeois: The bombardment of all sexual and symbolic reports, the sexuality, that alleged in her work, becomes the force that she simultaneously idealized.
Francis Bacon: He was painting homosexual couples having sex.
Robert Mapplethorpe: He was making photographs based on the sado-mazochism of homosexual couples.
Jeff Koons: He has been photographed making love “Made in Heaven” and he declares that he wants with the work to make the audience “look at the world with an eternal innocence”.
Marlen Dumas: She draws her subjects from pornographic magazines.
Tracey Emin: Her solitary feminine figures and written aphorisms present a brutal depiction of not so romantic sex.
In any case, the difference of an artistic from a pornographic photography is that an artistic photograph has aim to influence the sight and the psychology of spectator while a pornographic picture has unique aim to arouse. However a picture could be either artistic or pornographic, this depends on the judgment and esthetic opinion of the viewer.

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