23 July 2020

by st-Art

Five Top Famous
Controversial Erotic Artworks

There have been cultures and times were explicit references to sexuality were more accepted by societal norms, and times when there have not.

Erotic art has in equal measure aroused and aggravated since the beginning of art history. This includes a broad field of the visual arts – in other words, any artistic work intended to evoke erotic arousal, usually depicting human nudity and/or sexual activity.

Some of the earliest known works of art include erotic themes, which have recurred with varying prominence in different societies throughout history. However it has also been widely considered taboo, with either social norms or laws restricting its creation, distribution, and possession, particularly when it is deemed to be immoral.

Here below 5 top famous controversial erotic artworks which equally shocked and intrigued the world.

Antonio Canova – Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787-93)

Antonio Canova was famous for his marble sculpture, The power of love revives the dead in this great artistic hymn to desire. His statues are tremendously erotic, as he carves cold stone into smooth tender images of naked flesh. Here, both Cupid and Psyche are nudes of intense beauty and their embrace is proof that love conquers all.

Giulio Romano – I Modi (The Positions, 1524)

Renaissance Rome was rocked by I Modi, a printed sequence of graphically illustrated sexual positions. It was designed by Giulio Romano and engraved by printmaker Marcantonio Raimondi. This was luxury art porn. Despite being banned, it became a European bestseller.

Hokusai – The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (1814)

In Hokusai’s masterpiece of the Japanese erotic art genre known as Shunga, a woman diving for pearls is being pleasured by two octopuses. The larger of them enfolds her pale, naked body in its tentacles as it performs cunnilingus, its subtle attentions releasing rapture.

Egon Schiele – Two Women Embracing (1915)

Egon Schiele is a great artist who found his subject in the bedroom. In the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud was researching sexuality and Gustav Klimt was painting sensual dreams. Young Schiele took this respect for sex to a new level in superbly drawn masterpieces like this depiction of women in love. He turns his erotic curiosity into moving, beautiful, arousing art that may well be the most sublime pornography ever created.

Salvador Dalí – The Great Masturbator (1929)

Surrealist leader André Breton urged artists to unleash their unconscious. Along came Dalí confessing to desires that appalled Breton. This painting acknowledges its creator’s seamy mind, sleazy fantasies and onanism. The sex act that requires one participant is Dalí’s image of art, a narcissistic daydream that feeds on memory to create something self-contained.


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