More Sex Please, You're Artists

By: Jonathan Jones

There isn't enough sex in the arts today. Look back at the 20th century and the whole point of modernism was to liberate the carnal. DH Lawrence, priest of love, competed to shock the last survivors of the Victorian age with James Joyce, who rambled uninhibited to detail Leopold Bloom's underwear fantasies. In art, Picasso introduced the modern age with his brothel scene Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and the surrealists confessed to unspeakable lusts. Even in classical music, there was a sense of orgasmic release, as is recognised by Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore in their striking comic book Lost Girls, which portrays a riotous erotic encounter at the first night of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

I'm not saying that no one has ever got it on to Philip Glass or been tempted to have a quickie in one of the more remote corners of a Richard Serra installation, but isn't the avant garde in our time a bit sexless compared with its modernist forebears?

There is a reason for this. In the 1920s, sex was just starting to escape from the confines of Victorianism. Today it is merchandised, advertised, the stuff of small talk. For the first modernists, the erotic was self-evidently subversive. Today, it's hard to believe liberation or aesthetic renewal can lie in something so banal.

Until you try it for yourself. Sex is just as much fun today as it was in Picasso's time. All those atheists are always going on about God, putting adverts on buses to declaim their lack of belief – but why don't they just point out that sex is more satisfying than prayer? And holier?

Critics worry about why people would rather see a terrible film than a great play, why they'd rather read a trashy magazine than a book, and why the most god-awful dance music sells more than Steve Reich. It's because of the sex, stupid. If high art wants our attention, it needs to turn us on.

Views: 33

Comment by Rev. Tom Hicks, D.D. on June 2, 2009 at 9:05am
I with you on this.
Comment by Reggie on June 2, 2009 at 12:57pm
You had me at "more sex".
Comment by CJoe on June 2, 2009 at 3:30pm
Hmmm... you might have a point. Sexed-up Atheism. I think I've heard of this? Well... I did have a friend tell me that this site made Atheism look sexy, so we could be on the right track. But hey, if it makes you feel any better... I'm working on it ;)

(I'm an artist... yay!)
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 2, 2009 at 4:31pm
Not an artist, but I <3 sex! Three cheers!
Comment by Frank on June 2, 2009 at 11:20pm
Cara: Well at least someone is being an artist and not just talking about becoming an artists. Whatever your medium, I wish you the best of luck.

Misty: Are you not a writer? A writer is an artists whose medium is the arrangement of words, there prose is their canvas to share ideas.
Comment by Frank on June 3, 2009 at 1:09am
The author of the piece I posed, Jonathan Jones, is explaining why the masses don't care about fine art or classical music anymore. He is also talking about how after modernism movement our art has slipped back into puritanical standards.

Art isn't just supposed to be aesthetically pleasing...then it's just boring. Art needs to be bold, brash, and challenging as well aesthetically pleasing. What is the point endowing the title of artist on someone with they aren't leaving you challenged at the same time. Art is something you should chew on as you view should invoke thought.

This is just my opinion, I may be wrong.
Comment by Andrew Schatz on June 3, 2009 at 1:44am
I've done some sexual projects in the past,
From me to you
Confessions II
*Untitled* (work in progress)
I plan to keep making sexually oriented work. Soon, I'll be making a T-shirt design, something more along the lines of my profession.
Comment by Frank on June 3, 2009 at 1:48am
Very interesting work.
Comment by Andrew Schatz on June 3, 2009 at 5:43pm
I agree with noodly. I don't plan on putting any of the work listed above in my portfolio. Although someone like Stefan Sagmeister has been successful with hisAIGA ad. I can see projects pertaining to sex outside of the porn industry, if you want to "sell sex" in a more crude way than the early advertisements from the Art Nouveau movement (the equivalent of contemporary usage in the media). H.R. Giger took that in a strange direction FYI. But blatant art work that turns you on? Wouldn't you rather go have sex, than to depict it in art work? As far as I know, you get more emotive traditional art work when the artists emotions are being oppressed. Assuming there is less sexual oppression for an Atheist, there would be less need to express it other than flat out having sex. Which explains the common American Rap lyrics.

If I am not mistaken, most of the sexually driven rap lyrics come from the US. We all know, it has the most widespread socially accepted amount of Christian believers. In my opinion, said rap's lyrical content is a reaction to that oppression. The common listener that has been raised to think otherwise, could be in a stage of rebellion. So then I must ask again, in a society that generally isn't being sexually oppressed, where is the demand for the topic?
Comment by Frank on June 3, 2009 at 11:33pm
I am not looking for pornographic art. I'm more likely to linger over an image that just has a hint sexuality to it. If I were going through a stack of photo's and one photo was of a nude woman I would take it in with a glance and move on, but a photo what a dressed woman, who has a suggestive look to her, maybe her outfit clings just right, I would be more inclined to stop and study because it's suggestive with a bit of mystery to it.

I'm also not trying to advocate just graphic sexual art all the time, there is plenty of art that intrigues me that isn't sexual (ei: the work of William Blake, the work of Edward Hopper, and many other random paintings I've come across in museums).


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