All Art is Erotic, an essay by Hans Van Der Kamp
“All art is erotic.” So said Adolf Loos in Ornament and Crime, published in 1908, in a censorious and critical directive aimed at what he perceived to be a mindless, barbaric, excessive eroticism in the work of Viennese Secessionist artists, and although he never named him, the master of modern erotic art and leader of the Secession, Gustav Klimt. Klimt’s unrestrained decorative erotic paintings were often accused as functioning purely as pornography. A long history of sensuality in art includes the iconic Naked Maja by Goya, among many others. As well, the erotically charged pictures of Pablo Picasso have come to speak of a modern taste for cultivated sexuality.
We can see that in our society at the end of the last century, particularly in the digital forum, a strong division has emerged between art that is considered erotic and expressions of art that honored more traditional religiously-based values.
Some Internet censors went so far as to ban any image of Rubens’ famous painting Leda and the Swan (after 1530) because the painting supposedly promoted bestiality. However, today we can say that erotic art has now become more accepted and even perhaps mainstream. This is in part because erotic art’s long-standing marginal status has historically made it more affordable. As well, work in this genre is now becoming the focus of art investors and collectors who believe that the prices of less risqué genres of art had reached the top and were unlikely to continue to accrue value.