NAKED MADNESS - ON THE (STILL) UPTIGHT APPROACH TO EROTIC ART


 Dr. Monika Tatzkow

 

 

World culture as pornography

He is five meters tall, very beautiful and very naked: Michelangelo's David in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, one of the most famous statues in the world. But can eleven- and twelve-year-old schoolchildren be expected to see it? In the spring, Hope Carrasquilla, head of a Christian private school in the U.S. state of Florida, decided yes. She showed the naked David in art class - and was out of a job. Police officers escorted her from the schoolyard. Parents had complained that the statue was not age-appropriate and that it was "pornographic teaching material. There was great horror about the incident, especially on social networks. A colleague of the principal started an online petition against Carrasquilla's dismissal - he was threatened with disciplinary proceedings, and the petition was immediately removed.

Artistic freedom as a fundamental right We've been through this before: Because the Roman Catholic Church considered nudity obscene, the genitals of the statue of David were long covered by metal fig leaves during the Renaissance - but that was a few centuries ago. "The return of the fig leaf is unbelievable and violent even for conservative Florida. Where would this go? If it did, we'd have to pixelate the nudes by Lovis Corinth and Gustave Courbet shown here, or even the murals from Pompeii. That would be sheer madness! Politics or religion must not patronize art." Dr. Christoph Kürzeder addressed this earlier this year in the exhibition "Damned Lust" in the Freising Diocesan Museum, vividly and impressively. "I am glad that artistic freedom enjoys a prominent position in the German constitutional structure as a fundamental right granted without reservation. In this country, the right to artistic freedom, like freedom of the press, is anchored in Article 5, Paragraph 3, Sentences 1 to 3 of the Basic Law (GG)," says Katrin Stoll, Managing Partner at NEUMEISTER.

Art history is human history - and therefore always erotic history as well. We have known this since Pompeii at the latest. How free we were in spirit became clear at the beginning of 2021 when a triumphal chariot with erotic images was unearthed in Pompeii. The chariot was probably used by the Roman elite for sensual ceremonial occasions. Erotic depictions adorned houses and alleys in Pompeii. Somewhat coyly, oil lamps in the shape of phalluses and other offensive finds from Pompeii are now hidden in the Gabinetto Segreto, the Secret Cabinet in the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples - not without a warning for parents, religious and other sensitive minds. So that no one blushes.

 

Violinist instead of phallus

While living rooms in Pompeii were freely painted with the wildest nude scenes, lustful subjects in one's own four walls later had a hard time. Presenting erotic art in a domestic context is indeed a controversial matter for many - 2,000 years after Pompeii. If the enlightened circle of friends sees the giant phallus above the sofa, its moment of shock can certainly give the host the satisfying feeling of being some kind of courageous bohemian. But when the mother-in-law comes to visit, an innocent explosion of colour by Rupprecht Geiger is much less problematic than such erotic fireworks. In the end, it's usually the violinist.

 

 

 

Goustave Courbet, L’ Origine du Monde, 1866
Diese Bild ist NICHT in der Auktion!

Origin of the world

 

It is extremely exciting to see how permissiveness has constantly changed over the centuries, even within a cultural circle. What was once considered artfully erotic was suddenly branded as deviant; then again, what was initially banished to the dirty corner was discovered to be high art. Today, breaking taboos is no longer possible, it is often said. But when it comes to eroticism, many people's blood boils. What about Gustave Courbet's painting "L'Origine du monde" - The Origin of the World? A female nude, reduced to the very essential: the hairy pubic area, spread legs. The artist leaves out the face, hands and feet. He celebrates the place from which we all came into the world. The female sex, uncovered - the most natural thing of all? No, the critics in 1866, the year the oil painting was created, sensed a scandal. Wherever the painting was presented, it was hidden behind a curtain or a wooden cover. Since 1995 it has been hanging in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, visible but guarded by a security guard. And when the Metropolitan Museum in New York showed it in 2008 in a large Gustave Courbet retrospective, visitors first had to look for it. A warning sign pointed out the disturbing effect on people under 18 - and as a precaution, a special room was set up for the evil picture. In 2011, Facebook even blocked the post of a Dane who had posted a photo of the painting.

Swingtime

 

Or the thing with Element6 in Vienna. It's a swingers' club - but in 2010 it was also an erotic art installation. During the day, you could visit the "Room for Sex Culture" there, and in the evening it got down to business. The Swiss artist Christoph Büchel had moved the club into the museum for a few weeks. The outcry in the feuilletons and in politics was great: sex in a museum - is that art or a mess? Christoph Büchel probably knew that in Vienna today you have to go further than a hundred years ago in order to provoke. 100 years earlier it was different. At that time, the young wild Austrian Expressionist painters caused outrage with their pictures alone. Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is probably one of the best-known provocateurs when it comes to erotic art. Like Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) or Picasso (1881 - 1973), he rebelled against bourgeois morality with his works. Thus they became pioneers of Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons. And important collections of erotic art were created. The largest is said to be housed in the Vatican.

Der Zyklop Polyphem und die Nymphe Galateia liegen sich sinnlich in den Armen.
Fresko aus Pompeji, Archäologisches
Nationalmuseum Neapel.

O GALATEIA, AS WHITE AS THE LEAF OF SNOW-BRIGHT LIGUSTERS, FLOWERING AND FRESH AS THE AU, AS SLENDER AS THE TOWERING ERLE, SHINING LIKE BRIGHT CRYSTAL, MISCHIEVOUS AS THE LEAPING LITTLE GOAT, SMOOTH AS SHELLS WASHED BY THE CONSTANT SEA ON THE BEACH.

POLYPHEMUS IN OVID'S METAMORPHOSES

LOVIS CORINTH
LIEGENDER WEIBLICHER AKT
FAKTEN-CHECK
Von Dr. Monika Tatzkow
HIGHLIGHTS MODERNE
CONTEMPORARY ART