The timeless allure of erotic art
There’s a lot of queer artists out there, creating work that you could broadly categorise as gay erotica.
Tom of Finland was probably the grandfather of this genre as we know it today, but the erotic depiction of the male form is an art-form that be traced back through antiquity.
Art as an expression of homoeroticism
The artistic celebration of homoeroticism has been documented in pieces from Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and the art of the Renaissance. There were also extensive representations of homoeroticism in the art of Ancient China and also Japan.
Whether or not something could be considered as erotic art probably depends on the context. For example, representations of the phallus are common in many cultures – often as a fertility symbol. But where the representation of the male form is designed to titillate or generate arousal, then we’re clearly moving into the realms of the erotic.
It probably comes down to the intention of the artist, and the response generated when viewing the work.
Blurring the boundaries between art and porn
Contemporary artists are possibly less restricted by moral sensibilities or unwritten codes of conduct when it comes to what can be depicted in whatever medium they’re working with.
Does full-frontal nudity make it porn? Does an erect penis make it porn? Does a depiction of intercourse make it porn? It probably doesn’t matter either way. Any sort of depiction of the naked male form always has our attention.
The art of collecting erotica
We caught up with S.R. Sharp, curator of the Tom of Finland Foundation, for a behind the scenes look at the art of collecting erotic art.
Being an art collector sounds like something that wealthy people do. How accessible is it to own unique pieces from an artist whose work you love?
Well, of course, there are some that invest financially in art, but others are using their purchases to invest in the artists themselves.
If you love a work, and can’t afford the original, then you generally have the option to buy a print of it.
What sort of art can be collected?
Fine art, illustrations, sketches – including artist books and graphic novels. Also, pick-up apparel, and decorative items. Anything that bears the creator’s work represents a monetary ‘thank you’ to the one that created it.
Doesn’t an artist have to be dead before their work is worth anything?
What value is it to the artist if you wait for them to die? By buying their work, you’re supporting the artist and showing your appreciation for the pleasure that they’re giving you.
Is there a taboo about collecting erotic art?
There’s never been a person with a pencil that hasn’t created an image of a lover or fantasy figure. If it’s something that you enjoy with a healthy outlook, how can it be forbidden?
How are artists selected to be part of the ToF Art and Culture Festival?
Artists see thing we may never see ourselves – they are visionaries. We want visitors to see things that they’ve never seen before as well as images with which they may be quite familiar. The festival includes everyone from emerging artists, to artists shown in civic or commercial galleries, to artists that have been in museums.
What sort of price ranges are we looking at for the work available for sale as part of the festival?
From $10 to $10,000.
Is buying erotic art an investment or should we just buy it because we like it?
Both, of course. The worst regret is not acquiring a work of art that truly speaks to you.