Erotic surrealist paintings by Sea Ooh See

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Surrealism, Erotism and Art

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Surrealism, Erotism and Art

Sexuality in Art on a worldwide scale

Artists everywhere have tried to give expression to their own vision of the world in which they lived, including sex. But in Occident, we live in a world impregnated with a Judaeo-Christian excessive prudishness and hypocrisy regarding sexual matters. On the contrary, sex is an omnipresent reality in the artistic representations of other societies, which do not suffer from a psychic repression of sex like ours. I’m only taking for example most tribal art of Africa and Oceania, or the very explicit sculptures on the façade of some Indian temples.

Every aspect of our life deserves to be represented by artists, including our sexual life. There is no reasonable reason to limit the artistic production to non-sexual subjects. And regarding sex, there is no reason not to represent every aspect of sexuality, even if they are not considered as the general rule, provided these subjects are treated “artistically”, i.e. with a sense of beauty, symbolism and poetry. The result must be beautiful, agreeable to look at, and not banal, trivial, brutish and bestial or too “clinically medical”, like a treatise on urology or gynaecology. Every sexual phantasm has thus the right to be the subject of an artistic production.

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Sexuality in Western Art

In Western Art, the sexuality is present since many centuries B.C. There are several examples of paleolytic Venuses. Even erotism can be found in prehistoric times with representations of male phaluses in erection. But it is in the art of the Greeks and the Romans that we can found strongly erotic sculptures and pictures (in the form of mural and pottery paintings).

For example fellation and sodomy are not uncommon in the art of the Greek and Roman Antiquity. Afterwards, under the influence of the Christian Church, erotism in art was more hidden, but the sexuality was still present. Remember the numerous representations of Adam and Eve, the Last Judgment, etc., which provided the artists with a pretext for painting sexual, and sometimes erotic, subjects.

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Hieronymus Bosch

But in any case, this erotism was always more or less realistic. We have to wait for the end of the XVth century for finding a painter who foreshadowed the surrealism of the twentieth century: Hieronymus Bosch

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