Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Caution: vivid writing.

When I married, my husband had an extensive collection of erotica, including Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for Lysistrata and a curiously large book which classified women's breasts by, as I recall, the angle at which they pointed, how much they hung down, etc. So there wasn't much new for me in the Barbican's Seduced: Art and Sex exhibition.

Items of interest included a 54 minute film by Andy Warhol of a man and a woman kissing. I did not wait through the entire film; nor did I wait through Warhol's 41 minute film of a young man getting a blow job. The part I watched showed only his admittedly handsome face grimacing. Ho hum.

Hermaphrodite was positioned so you could walk all the way around him / her instead of pushing it against the wall as I have seen elsewhere. What would be the point of exhibiting this statue and hiding the relevant parts? Make up your mind.

I now know what the fuss over photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is about. I don't know where the boundaries could be extended beyond this. You have to see the pictures to know why people would complain. That the offense is due to homoerotica is simply not true.

Lots of people did dirty pictures: ancient Greeks and Romans, Picasso, Rodin, Rembrandt, Fragonard. Sex is interesting to everyone.

One erotic film was accompanied by a playing of the Faure Requiem, and this music was heard throughout the exhibition. I deliberately avoided looking at the film because I didn't want the music to associate to these pictures in my mind. This piece has deep emotional associations for me. Perhaps in this context it serves to remind us of our mortality.

It isn't conceived as an art exhibit--it's just a collection of dirty pictures. Why else include films from the Kinsey Institute which is doing things simply for the sake of doing them, and certainly can't be considered art? If there is a minimum requirement for art, it has to be that it's intended that it be art. I wish I hadn't seen Mapplethorpe's pictures, but I guess they are intended to be art. Kinsey is just recording human perversion to be doing it.

There is a particularly lovely Chinese portrait that is worth seeing.

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