This week I'm posting works of art that depict sex or sexuality in a positive light. Since Modernism genuinely positive portrayals of sex have been frowned upon by many in the arts community (particularly in art schools) for a variety of reasons--all of which I dismiss as bad ideas. So as a small gesture in the opposite direction, I am going to post and briefly comment on seven works of art which present sex and sexuality as happy, fun, satisfying, beautiful, powerful and good. Enjoy!
I always thought this painting was a typical "odalisque" image, until an art history professor pointed out the woman’s left hand. I guess I never even considered that in 1538 an artist would paint a nude woman pleasuring herself on a bed. I guess I assumed artists would have been burned at the stake for even thinking about painting such a sexy, sensual subject.
There is a huge quantity of speculation (some better than others) about what all the other elements in the scene are and why she’s posed in such a provocative manner, but none of it is essential to an appreciation of this painting as a positive view of life and a positive view of sexual pleasure.