Why Erotic Art? A Personal Journey by Francois Dubeau
Really, I ask: why would an artist choose to go down the rabbit hole of erotic art? You can sell way more paintings of landscapes than you will ever of penises. So why? The only logical answer I could come up with is – to quote that guy who died of exposure on Everest – “Because it’s there, duh!”
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a pen, brush or pencil in my hand (and earlier still, a crayon or two) and was busy artin’ my days away. My “Hot Rod Period” (Rat Fink FTW!!!) ended around age 15 when the hormones hit big time, and that’s when I started my erotic art period.
But the real world quickly caught up to me, and I soon felt the pressure to create “real” artwork. You know, serious, cerebral stuff.
Growing up in a progressive family in the ’70s, sex was never really a taboo and was discussed openly. Nudes and erotic art, however, were seen as somewhat corny; a “passé” style that was a bit too exploitative to be taken seriously (perhaps the “Reclining Nude on Velour” painting that hung in my aunt’s bedroom played in part in my family’s aversion to erotic art and nudes… As a kid, that painting was as enticing as it was horrid!). Only perverts and male chauvinist pigs drew nudes. And I was none of that!
So I toiled at developing a “serious” art persona… with very little results. Behind closed doors however, the nudes and erotic pieces flourished. THOSE were the ones I enjoyed working on! My private, guilty pleasure. Hidden in the bottom drawer under that well-worn copy of Penthouse.
My awakening came in 2001, when the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal exhibited a show called “Picasso Érotique”. ERMAHGERD! Some 350 pieces of erotica by Picasso, and boy were they raunchy (Oh my, those etchings!!!)! My reaction was basically “Why did no one tell me about this?!? A most serious artist, committing the smuttiest of erotic art, displayed in the most stodgy of museums! Why was this hidden? Is there more?!?” Down the rabbit hole I went…
Scratching away the veneer of institutional respectability that had been covering my eyes, I quickly saw that the vast majority of “serious” artists of the 20th century created erotic pieces at one time or another… but you had to look for them. Behind closed doors. Hidden in the thicker, more academic treaties covering an artist’s work in more detail (often in the back pages, in tiny black and white photos.). And going further back in time, the smut kept coming out… even in the puritan middle ages (“my, those angels sure are bodacious! And look at how ripped them martyrs are!”).
I felt like a goddamned idiot: it had been there all along, but in my effort to create “serious” art, I had been blind to what was in fact everywhere. And once I pulled back the veil, I saw that the trail of erotic art stretched all the way back to the very beginning of humankind, to the cave paintings where proto-humans created the very first works of art. And they chronicled what was of most importance to them: the spoils of the hunt (animals) and the fertility Goddesses. The dance of life and death.
Since that awakening (how could I have been so blind?!?) I never looked back: I now consider myself a modern cave painter. So why erotic art? Because it’s there, and has always been, and will always be. It is inescapable. It is what being human is all about: the dance of life and death. Eros/Thanatos.
Like an endless sunset, erotic art covers an infinite spectrum. From the most delicate of rose-petal pinks to the scorching crimsons from the depths of Hades, erotic art offers something for everybody. And that is the beauty of 12 Inches of Sin: nowhere else can you find such a spectacular kaleidoscope of art touching on the erotic. From the techniques to the execution to the subject matter, the palette is virtually limitless. And that is what sets 12 Inches apart from the others. Long live 12 Inches of Sin!