Sunday, 16 May 2010

Robert Mapplethorpe

This post is about two works by American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989). This famous photographer cause a great deal of controversy in his day - in particular for photographing black men and producing sexually explicit work. Some feel that he took advantage and exploited the black men he photographed. If you want to hear what Ken Moody, one of Mapplethorpe´s models, feels about being photographed by Mapplethorpe, click this You Tube link.

The two Mapplethorpe images that I have chosen to show are interesting for several reasons. First of all it is debatable whether or not they can be called erotic.

So why do I have them on the blog?

Well, one of my main points about erotic art is that an image can be seen by one person as erotic and not at all erotic by someone else. Attitudes and perceptions of what is erotic and what is not, is in perpetual flux and change with time, social and cultural evolution that follow the changing times. What is erotic and unacceptable today may be acceptable tomorrow.

In centuries past the depiction of a naked body or person in a sculptural context could be seen as risqué. Today though, sculpture of this kind is usually seen as aesthetically pleasing.

Ken Moody, 1983. Copyright Robert Mapplethorpe foundation.
Used by permission.

Mapplethorpe´s image of Ken Moody is interesting because it is so steeped in classical values linked to the sculptural tradition - the view of the back with what looks like the arms missing is a strong visual reference to many of the classic white marble sculptures omnipresent in our museums. But the reason that I think this image is really interesting, is because although we know it is a male we are looking at, there is distinct feminine grace about him in his posture despite his undeniably masculine body. Finally I think it is an interesting contrast that Mapplethorpe highlights with this image: the body of a living Afro-American man making me think of white marble statues; dark/light, human/stone, male/female. And to top it all off - I do actually think he is sexy. What woman would not want to get her hands on Moody´s buttocks?

Thomas, 1987. Copyright Robert Mapplethorpe foundation.
Used by permission.

This fantastic image draws on the tradition of Michelangelo and passes reference to his Vitruvian man. Aside from that it is simply a stunning image and one which I think shows why the masculine body is just as attractive as the female body. This image just makes you long to see what this man looks like standing upright ... and you can go on daydreaming ...

Another image of Thomas, even more erotic, is the one called Thomas in a circle, 1987. In this image there is a strong symbolism playing on the union between the male and the female. Here Thomas is shown inside the round circle (which also looks like a tube) looking down at a white luminous shape with strong links to an ovum, (the female egg). This is a highly erotic image which plays on heterosexual relations which is interesting when you consider that Mapplethorpe was gay.

To learn more about Robert Mapplethorpe and his work you can visit the Mapplethorpe website.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Beautiful in pregnancy

Today I fell over this picture on the web and thought it was so beautiful and erotic I just had to show it to you.

As a woman I know, from first hand experience, how easy it is to feel unsexy when your body is big through pregnancy. Many women have a heightened sense of sexual desire and more erotically aware at times through their pregnancy whilst others loose the interest in sex altogether.

The composition of the picture is fantastic and the beautiful curves of the body are eminently displayed through an almost chiaroscuro-like effect, where contrast of light and shade is used to create a heightened sense of volume.

Although you cannot see the woman´s face I think you get a strong sense of the erogenous and thoughts inevitably link to the act in which she has had to participate to get to her present pregnant state. The interpretation of the picture could be that this woman is a symbol of mother earth or a fertility goddess and as such something linked with beauty, attraction, fertility and growth.

I hope this picture makes all women who are pregnant feel wonderfully special, beautiful and sexy because it is exactly that sense of the erogenous that has gotten most of them into their situation.