Monthly Archives: May 2008

IoEA #25: man’s most honest organ

“Sensitive but resilient, equally available during the day or night with a minimum of coaxing, it has performed purposefully if not always skillfully for an eternity of centuries, endlessly searching, sensing, expanding, probing, penetrating, throbbing, wilting, and wanting more. Never concealing its prurient interest, it is man’s most honest organ.” —Thy Neighbor’s Wife, (1981), Gay Talese.

It’s time for the 25th installment in our series of mini-articles on icons of erotic art. Today’s item is an unabashed tribute to man’s most honest organ, that wonderful extension to the human male’s groin, the wondrous complex of bulging blood vessels, the source of pride of alpha through zeta males: the penis. Here represented by Le Dieu Priape[1] (ca. 1779 – 1795) by French visionary architect and draughtsman Jean-Jacques Lequeu, it shows a large, elegant and powerful phallus. Calling it a phallus, makes it clear that the penis is erect, because let’s face it, in a flaccid state our pride is pretty preposterous.

Staying on the subject of penises, most recently Trevor Brown showed eyeing[2][3] instances of the male and female anatomy by the 21st century fantaste Paul Rumsey.

P.S. The quote of Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese came my way via a Dutch translation of Louise Kaplan’s recently acquired Female Perversions, from the first cursory reading, a very good study of female sexual behavior and its representation in psychoanalytic theory and western literature and Emma Bovary in particular.

Message to all

“Today is my 43d birthday. I would like all lurkers to come out and say hello. Best-wishes, congratulations, happy birthdays from denizens and other fellow psychonauts welcomed. Remember: the journey is the reward.”

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008)

Addio Rauschenberg

Retroactive I (1964) by Robert Rauschenberg

Photo from the Flickr collection of ALFAP

Robert Rauschenberg (October 22 1925May 12 2008) was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art and best-known for such works as Retroactive I (1964) which “collaged” images of current events gathered from magazines and newspapers. A large press photograph of John F. Kennedy speaking at a televised news conference was the source for this screen print on canvas. He juxtaposed the image of Kennedy with another photo silkscreen of a parachuting astronaut. The overlapping, and seemingly disparate, composition creates a colorful visual commentary on a media-saturated culture struggling to come to grips with the television era. (see Susan Hapgood’s Neo-Dada, Redefining Art 1958-1962)

The painting was described by John Coulthart in 2008 as a work that could easily serve as an illustration to J. G. Ballard‘s The Atrocity Exhibition. Coulthart added that “Rauschenberg was one of a handful of artists who seemed to depict in visual terms what Ballard was describing in words. In this respect Robert Hughes’s discussion of the “landscape of media” [in The Shock of the New (1980)] (Ballard’s common phrase would be “media landscape”) is coincidental but significant.” [1]

Icons of erotic art #24, or a pale, tender rose-tint almost like that of her cheeks

Clemente Susini

Clemente Susini’s wax Venus

Venus spied upon

Venus (or a Nymph) Spied On by Satyrs” by Poussin

In a recent post [1], on a perceived likeness between a Poussin painting and a wax anatomical model, Evan, a friend of Morbid Anatomy notes:

“I was taking in the wonderful “Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions[2],” exhibition currently up at the Metropolitan Museum, when I was struck by his famous “Venus (or a Nymph) Spied On by Satyrs”. The falling of the drapery, the hand gesture, and the blatantly revelatory pose – all very, very reminiscent of [ Clemente Susini‘s ] wax Venus models found at La Specola, the Josephinum, and beyond.” .

To me, the painting in question was reminiscent of both the 1937 novel Blue of Noon (published in 1957) by Georges Bataille and the 1838 novella One of Cleopatra’s Nights by Théophile Gautier. The latter includes a fantastic—and an undisguisedly fetishistic—description of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra‘s body post-mortem:

“Her sole vestment was the linen shroud that had covered her upon her state bed, and the folds of which she drew over her bosom as if she were ashamed of being so little clothed, but her small hand could not manage it. It was so white that the colour of the drapery was confounded with that of the flesh under the pale light of the lamp. Enveloped in the delicate tissue which revealed all the contours of her body, she resembled an antique marble statue of a bather…Dead or living, statue or woman, shadow or body, her beauty was still the same; only the green gleam of her eyes was some what dulled, and her mouth, so purple of yore, had now only a pale, tender rose-tint almost like that of her cheeks.”

The Poussin painting is Icon of erotic art #24

World cinema classics #48


Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981) by Marco Ferreri [off-line]

I’ve been waiting quite a long time to be able to show a clip of Tales of Ordinary Madness by Marco Ferreri (La Grande Bouffe), one of the most devastatingly beautiful films to have crossed my retina when I saw it about 5 years ago.

Memorable scenes include Ornella Muti putting an oversized safety pin to some rather startling uses, and a listful cat and mouse game between Ben Gazzara and Susan Tyrrell which results in Gazarra’s arrest when you least expect it. Some hold the Ornella Muti scenes as some of the most erotic ever confided to celluloid, I’ll take the Tyrrell/Gazzara encounter any day.

The film’s title and subject matter are based on the works and the person of US poet Charles Bukowski.

See also WMC#13.

Update: a few hours after I posted the clip, it was taken down by the “user.”

Do not disturb

“Can desire, the anticipation of pleasure, ever truly be photographed? No one has done it as well as Chas Ray Krider, and no one has equaled his blend of salaciousness and subtlety.” — Esparbec, writer, Paris 2007

Enter Motel Fetish

A new book by “Motel Fetish” Chas Ray Krider

[FR] [DE] [UK]

Chas has a blog with photos like this one. His latest book, Do not Disturb, was published by French imprint/bookseller La Musardine. For a good Esparbec cover, click here.

She knows

Girl with a cup (1850), by Danish painter Constantin Hansen

It’s one of those paintings one finds on the web, they talk to you, you find them 2 weeks ago, they compel you to write about them two weeks later.

A little of Vermeer, Chirico and Balthus in this painting of a girl drinking from a cup. Her gaze is half interrogation and half wonder, but a defiant gaze nevertheless, as if she knows more than she’s willing to admit, and more too, than you would expect her to. There is quite a bit of sadness too, sadness not so much of a girl, but of a grown woman trapped in the body of a girl. As with many interesting 19th century works, it’s hard to tell, is it a kitschy guilty pleasure or just a good painting?