A History Of The Erotic Art Art Essay


Erotic art:  includes music, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and writings that are aimed to sexually arouse the mind triggering the thought of erotic sex scenes.

Pornography: Sexual pleasure portrayed within an explicit sexual theme projected through media in order to activate stimulation and contentment.

Hip hop : Originated from the African American district New York City in the late 1970's , initially invented as a way for black people to express themselves artistically through music . (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop, 2010)


Sex sells. This statement has been proved over the years after the increase of sexual connotations in music videos during the late 90's, up until this day this craze rains throughout the music industry in order to sell records.

The hip hop culture has always been connected with disapproval as the artist's lyrics and visual selling mechanisms are frowned upon by the public. Labels and the artists themselves have made use of this situation, embracing the bad exposure as "ANY PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY "

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In 1995 Roger Ebert wrote:


Rap has a bad reputation in white circles, where many people believe it consists of obscene and violent anti-white and anti-female guttural. Some of it does. Most does not. Most white listeners don't care; they hear black voices in a litany of discontent, and tune out. Yet rap plays the same role today as Bob Dylan did in 1960, giving voice to the hopes and angers of a generation, and a lot of rap is powerful writing.


The assault of video vixens in hip hop videos became the norm as the artists an record labels noticed this sudden change of perception whenever porn or sex became involved

. The lyrics and visuals also had to change to accommodate this new wave that the fans demanded. The result was The rise of Lil Kim in the late 90s the music scene with her sexually explicit lyrics and sexy videos the success and buzz created by this new style of embracing negativity and displaying negativity to achieve successes can be argued to be the one of the best marketing tool. Record labels these days don't only listen to talent as they now believe that talent itself can just be your looks and the rest they can work on it.

In a way to circumvent broadcasting regulations BET has created a late-night segment called "Uncut" to air uncensored videos. Not only has this translated into greater sales for mainstream artists, it has also provided an outlet for undiscovered artists to grab the spotlight with graphic but low production quality videos, often made cheaply by non-professionals. Perhaps the most notorious video aired, which for many came to exemplify BET's program Uncut, was "Tip Drill" by Nelly. While no more explicit than other videos, its exploitative depiction of women, particularly of a man swiping a credit card between a stripper's buttocks, was seized upon by many social activists for condemnation. The segment was discontinued in mid 2006.

Niki Minaj is a good example of a star that has taken influence from Lil Kim and is now seen in turn as an icon for the up and coming generation of female rappers.

This however is potentially very worrying, as the self-proclaimed 'Barbie' admits that she has had plastic surgery in order to enhance her buttocks area as a means of exaggerating her role as a sexy rapper and thus to become appealing to men and women.

This raises the issue of the pressures of being a sexy female rapper and what it can lead aspiring models and rappers to do so as to change and enhance their natural beauty through plastic surgery in order to fit into a society where being curvy and sexy is seen as a superiority over other females. This issue is very worrying as it can lower the self-esteem of girls as young as 10 years old, encouraging them to change their appearance. A frightening example of this is the case of Claudia Atrodemy, who died after a buttocks enhancement operation and died. There has always been a connection between sex and music but a new generation has now been pushed to the limits via technology.

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Being a female rapper who goes by the name of Gemini and having advantage over the other female rappers in the UK, through the means of naturally having the image of a hip hop model which is in high demand in the industry right now. These qualities include having large 32f cups sized breasts, hips and a fairly large buttocks area which girls nowadays desire to have.

My aim is to use these qualities and test out whether or not having talent within my lyrics can override my image by conducting a social experiment via the social networking site 'twitter' and reciting a questionnaire to the general public . The questions I will seek to answer in this dissertation will be; is having the perfect image pivotal to succeed in the music industry?

Literature review

Artists have always intertwined sex within their works, as it activates an immediate response from the audience. In Achille Devéria's painting "libertine water color" there appears to be a raunchy sex scene secretly occurring whilst a respectable gathering is being held in the background.

Historically nude and erotic Implications have been around for centuries dating back to the art of Palaeolithic cave carvings and paintings, when cave men and women would produce images of mammal hunting prospects and exaggerations of human genitals. (e.g. Venus figurines).

In April 2005 it was reported that German Archaeologists in Germany had found a 7,200-year-old painting of a male figure yielding above a woman statuette in a sexual way giving the impression of a detailed sex scene.

You see in the past sexual illustrations where usually used as a separating mechanism for cultures region and tribes, and was not mistaken for anything but that until the Victorian age. The Victorian era was to start the rise of modern concept of pornography as prostitutes were defined in many writings in the 1860's .Simply looking at sexual images , collections books or engravings was banned in 1857 and if caught, the person would be imprisoned .

When an extensive dig out occurred in the city of Pompeii in the 1860s, most of the erotic imagery was recovered shocking the Romans leaving them no choice but to question the idea of sexuality . As the Romans visualised themselves as hierarchs of the Roman Empire they decided to hide these images from the general public making them exclusive to the upper class only.

Greek art is famously known to contain sexual images of same sex intercourse and pederasty, usually painted onto ceramic surfaces. These images were duplicated from the Greeks every day sex life and so they were hardly scrutinised for their art, as they were oblivious to the concept of pornography. Erected penis's (phalli) can be viewed in the sanctuary of Dionysus on Delos, and is frequently used as a domestic ornament or a charm called a herm, which passers by stroked for good luck. Hermes usually, an aesthetic the Romans later adopted. Having a large penis was seen as undesirable for the Greeks and was mocked comically in Ancient Rome.

The Romans used to commemorate sex, openly placing explicit paintings of sexual encounters above the door of each brothel as advertisement. For them sex was a considered beautification and a signal of their culture which is projected on their Warren Cup. Over time a marble statue was found and exhibited in the secret museum in Naples , of the god Pan having sexual intercourse with a goat and was measured as so unambiguous that it was not release into the public until the year 2000.


The Moche culture of Peru are an additional prehistoric individuals to facilitate sexually explicit images onto ceramics, however their purpose was nothing like the Greeks. Instead the Moche believed that the underworld was the reverse of the living, consequently they producing products for funeral gifts with images of humans performing sex that didn't give life for example , anal , masturbation and fellatio .

East Asia is famously known for their traditional contribution to sexual images but the most famous sex manuscripts was written in by an Indian named Vatsyayana centuries ago called The Kama Sutra which contained detailed instructions on how to make love to another human .


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Medieval illuminate books also contained erotic pictures but were only accessible by the wealthy male's one of whom being Doctor George Witt, who donated a huge set of erotic antiques to the British Museum in 1865.It was only until Johannes Gutenberg invented press printing that erotic images was then mass produced within the western society.

Palumba created by Giovanni Battista is one of the earliest known prints to be related with nudity and conventionalism. In 1475-1500 a more grounded printing piece called Allegory of Copulation pictured a young duo having sexual intercourse whilst sitting on either side of the bench with the lady's feet raised to the sky along with the males large penis, a separate image of a figure with wings and legs with a bell tied around its testicles is seen trying to rise on top of the bench to join the act.

In 1524 Marcantonio Raimondi caused a major uproar when he distributed explicit illustrations of 16 sex positions founded from the works of Giulio Romano who was doing commission work for the Palazzo del Te in Mantua at the time. The works of Aretinot's sixteen overt sonnets "both in your pussy and your behind, my cock will make me happy, and you happy and blissful "was then paired with Raimondi's paintings in order to negotiate the release of Raimondi from prison in the 16th century.

The 17th century was to mark the start of pornography in France as many erotic novels begun to travel including the works of L'Ecole des Filles, which was printed in 1655.

Throughout the era of Enlightenment, a lot of French atheists proceeded to take advantage of pornography using it as a means of societal denigration along with spoof. 

Free thinking pornography was usually used as a rebellion against the Catholic Church's beliefs that sex should be saved till after marriage. The English upper class citizens began to despise this as pornography was soon to be promoted though affordable leaflets to commoners, and feared that the untutored lower class would spoil the exclusiveness by allowing slaves and vulnerable women to distort the art.

Fanny hill (Previously named The Memoirs of a Woman OF Pleasure) was written by John Cleland in 1748 as a reaction against this issue. The book concentrates on the English principle and mannerisms towards sex in the 18th century, as the narrator portrays the women as scandalous by having sexual encounters without passion or regret.

In 1839 Louis Daguerre invented the first ever useful method of photography paving the way for William Fox Talbot's invention of the negative- positive process in 1841. This invention cemented the design of mass production in nude photography as numerous prints were created from a glass negative. This allowed pornography to become inexpensive and lawful as the invention was accepted by the French Academy of sciences, works from the likes of Edward Muybridge reveals s the masked the idea of explicatory imagery by usually placing a prop next to the female to avoid scrutiny.

After the invention of motion pictures in 1895 pornographic films were produced instantaneously by Eugene Pirou and Albert Kirchner, inspiring late French filmmakers to show women undressing provocatively in order to make there films marketable and raising their income .

Pornography jetted off in America In 1972 after the pornographic films, Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat were deemed acceptable by the media to be released into the public introducing a societal trend. Following this movies such as The devil in Miss Jones followed in 1973 and much more were produced , indicating that on screen sex was now the norm although and many predicted that frank depictions of sex onscreen would soon become commonplace. Although Willia Rotsler spoke out in 1973 suggesting, "Erotic films are here to stay", traditional values were still upheld urging the market to inject fantasy into films.  

Since the beginning of Music video's in 1981, music has become the basis of youth society implementing a topic of discussion amongst researchers who disagreeing with the content and consequences , as Arnett (2002) explained , "a typical music video…features one or more men performing while beautiful, scantily clad young women dance and writhe lasciviously. Often the men dance, too, but the women always have fewer clothes on. The women are mostly just props…They appear for a fraction of a second, long enough to shake their butts a couple of times, then the camera moves on (p. 256)." Arnett clarifies that it is primarily the fault of hip-hop video music which has dominated the minds of under age youths, by portraying sexual imagery in their video's influencing them in a negative way. (Jones, 1997; Larson, 1998).

It has been proven that 65% of youngsters been the age 13 and 18 casually watch and listen to music which is fashionable throughout the black, Hispanic and white race (Rideout, Roberts, & Foehr, 2005).

In 2001 The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that teenagers admit that music entertainment is the main cause of sexual ill health and sexual promiscuity in their generation. For instance sexual images in music videos have been broadcasted via MTV for years, influencing their target audience from the age of 12-34. (Gan, Zillmann, & Miltrook, 1997; Jones, 1997; Pardun & McKee, 1995). This amount of publicity has effected the youth over the years changing their mannerisms, attitudes and viewpoints towards society today.

The main focus study on how the media effects the link between the exposure to sexual imagery in music videos and teenagers sexual attitudes and conduct.

(Arnett, 2002; Ward, 2002; Ward, Hansbrough, & Walker, 2005).

"Two phases of SCT that powerfully notifys the present study are the concepts of vicarious learning and abstract modelling (Bandura, 2002). Humans, unlike other mammals says Bandura (2002), have the capability to learn through symbolic environments, such as through media portrayals. Through this vicarious learning, people then act based on their images of reality, and the more their reality depends on the symbolic environment, the more likely they are to act in a way reflective of that environment. Abstract modeling grows from this vicarious learning, whereby individuals extract the generic features of media portrayals, integrate those portrayals into composite rules of behavior, and then use these rules to produce new instances of behavior (Bandura, 2002). These mechanisms are particularly applicable to those who consume a large amount of a particular genre of music and music videos, such as hip-hop, whereby "rules of behavior" are modeled consistently and vicariously over music video channels.

Females who are indulged within rap music feel that it's acceptable for them to be belittled by men in reality, robotically submerging to the submissive position in the relationship allowing them to be insulted and dominated by the male. This goes against the theory of female empowerment as rappers like Lil Kim paved the way for self exploitation within female rap music……By accepting these derogatory claims, Kim is notoriously known to portray herself as an on screen as slut, referring to herself as a 'bitch' and 'hoe' in her lyrics, often bragging about her sexual encounters with men therefore sending out a negative influence to the listener. The irresponsibility of the artist is appalling as Kim is clearly not a role model for the younger generation, as the rise of Niki Minaj has clearly been derived from Kim describing herself as a 'barbie' doll, with implications for the male to sexually mistreat her treat as a plastic toy, as her explicit lyrics and her plastic figure is made to accommodates the male fantasy.

17 year old female rapper OGNIKI from Birmingham took over the airwaves this month for releasing a video filled with raunchy with lyrics of profound vulgarities. Although her lyric's are undeniable profound, her ability to rap is actually quite spectacular which unfortunately is not the not the forefront of her career, as her lyrical content brags about her previously recorded sex tape rapping 'I get fucked from the back screaming lalala , I fucked 6 man on the camera ' in a Grime Blog video . OGniki has obviously been subjective by the Lil Kim and Niki Minaj trend of openly conversing about her sex life, entirely disregarding her self respect all through the price of recognition.

The industry accepted OGniki rapidly as the day after her video on the net was released, she was then advertised on BBC 1xtra ,BBC news and ITV going , her follower count on twitter went from 198 to 13000 in counting in a week !. This goes is proves that the industry prefers a juicy sex scandal over raw talent , as there other female rappers that have been trying for years to make it in the industry but wont get as harsh as OGniki to gain attention due fear of loosing credibility and self respect.

This issue has been argued by women who claim to be celebrating their womanhood by exposing their natural body form to the public as a clear indication that they've embraced and accepted the way they are .Some females are known to make this change after loosing their self esteem through the suffering of traumatic experiences such as loneliness, dietary issues, abuse and many more. These occurrences usually formulate the females understanding of the importance self worth, allowing them to overcome their trauma and emerge with a greater knowledge of life and self value making them a stronger person. The journey of tribulation often drives the female to adopt a domineering attitude towards men and in general .Men are notoriously known to add pressure on to females with their high expectation that the' prefect woman' has to be identical to the airbrushed photos of models in the magazines combined with the stereotypical outlook of the 'perfect stay at home housewife'. These traits are currently being portrayed through some female rappers characteristics, as they're able to express the power of femininity through their image and music rebelling against this analogy by paginating their bodies and accenting their curves through photography, film or even everyday life sending out a message to females to embracing their natural female form.

Leister born Gok Wan, is famously known for his BBC confidence boosting show and book entitled 'How to look good naked' which focuses in female applicants who have lost their body confidence and returning it back to them by using fashion and elegance guidelines . At the finale of the tutoring conferences, Gok's clients are urged to pose naked to exhibit their new found poise proving that they can achieve beauty without undergoing any surgery.

Since the 90's females with sexualised images such as Lil Kim foxy brown and Trina have been pushed by the major labels as they found that female rappers with this image are the most profitable ones. The fact that labels seem to be only interested in signing a female rapper who image revolves around sex, eliminates the female rappers with non sexual images such as Lauran Hill and no lay are not promoted and pushed by record labels although they are very talented.

It is unfortunate to witness so many female rappers out there with skill who are not receiving sufficient publicity because they are not selling themselves as sexual objects to the market. Internet and other sources have made the female market requirements easily available for these aspiring artists to mimic and upstage in order to become new and inventive with their sexual imagery as a female rapper.

In the past it would have been preposterous to even imagine a female rapper decorating the front spread of a magazine wearing nothing but underwear. Today it is nothing but the norm, as it seems compulsory for a female rapper to appear on the cover of a men's magazine. In summer 2010 female rapper Trina triggered a stir as she appeared in a bikini and sometimes topless is an issue of King Magazine. A month later she released and album 'Amazing' which was ironically famous for the wrong reasons as everyone was talking about her spread in ' Kings' magazine ' as apposed to her album, which proves that her image upstaged her ability to rap as she used her body to promote her album.

20 year old university student Claudia Aderotimi and dancer (stage name Caramella London) from Hackney in London tragically died after having an illegitimate enhancing process in her buttocks area. Claudia flew to America and booked an illegal surgeon to come into her hotel room and inject silicone in her bottom to raise the curve but suffered 12 hours of chest pains straight after and later on died in hospital. Claudia was desperate to have the surgery done because she thought having a bigger bottom would make her wanted by the industry so she could perform in music videos .Her confidence was lowered even more as just before she left for America, she auditioned to be in a music video and wore special padded trousers to give the directors the impression that she had a huge bottom in order to be chosen. She was chosen but soon after they discovered her ass was fake and didn't call her back for the video.

Although Claudia's dancing ability was above standard she still felt inadequate within her appearance and felt that having a bigger ass like Trina or Niki Minaj would rapidly increase her chances of being famous .Its highly unfortunate that the expectations of the media generated yet another target as all these aspiring hip hop artists are trying to reach their idea of excellence.

Missy Elliot has achieved the outstanding by succeeding all her goals on her own, maintaining full governing and direction of her albums and refusing conform to the media's interpretation of what a female rapper's appearance should be. Missy Elliot was a large size 16 while achieving all this, proving that having talent and persistence towards to her career can overcome the norm of being a sex symbol in order to sell records. Her innovative style has contributed to pushing boundaries in the in the hip hop genre which declares her self confidence and willingness to take a risk.Elliot has written and produced songs for Christina Aguliera, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce' Knowles, Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson. She has releases five of her own albums since 1997, and each has sold upwards of million copies.


In order to prove that image is needed to sell records I conducted an investigation two social investigations. Firstly I put together a questionnaire for 30 people (male and female) between the ages of 18 to 30. The questions I posed determined weather or not sexual imagery played a key role in sales and influence to society. Secondly I carried out a social networking experiment by creating an online profile on Twitter to prove how easy it is to climb the media ladder using technology to project my sexy image as a female rapper. By regularly tweeting and posting alluring photos onto twitter I attracted a genuine fan base and gained a lot of opportunities posed by the music industry.

Although my profile states that I am a female rapper I purposely refrained from releasing my music, building up anticipation for my music teasing my followers. When I finally released a video clip of me rapping on youtube , I posted it out on my twitter page and compared the amount of views and new followers gained from expressing my rap ability, to the attention gained from my sexualised image , enabling me to analyse the results and come to a conclusion later on .

I encountered some issues with the Twitter experience as I challenged by a numerous amount of men asking for more explicit photos, morally I couldn't carry through with these requests as I discovered that there were boundaries I simply couldn't cross in order to gain attention .Although I felt flattered, I was offended the same time as the male audience became demanding and attempted to bully me into releasing explicit photos of myself. If I was to abide by these demands I would have felt less respected and socially abused.

Fundamentally the question of whether or not image plays an important part in sale of music has been answered as yes, as explained in my review OGniki achieved the most media attention within days of exposing her sex life on her Grime blog. Although I wouldn't go as far as OGniki the celebratory claim of sex in her lyrics creates the fantasy of sex to the viewer increased her chance of fame. My methodology go hand I hand with my method as I am proud to embrace my curves just like Gok Wan urges his clients to do in the series 'How to look good naked .


and conclude with that my sexual wild imagery portrayed in my tweet to my rap ability in order to determine which area is deemed more popular to the audience


The nude has been a central art historical subject since the Greeks carved buff athletes 4,000 years ago, but even our permissive society is still ruffled by images of the flesh. Tate Britain's exhibition of 19th-century photographs by Eadweard Muybridge has a notice about the nudity. "In the last couple decades museums have been posting warnings," says art advisor Allan Schwartzman. "This helps condition audiences." But as the late art historian Kenneth Clark argued, an erotic response is innate. "No nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling…and if it does not do so, it is bad art and false morals," he wrote.

This is not to say sex is not for sale at Frieze. "Sex is in the eye of the beholder," says art advisor Thea Westreich. "It's what you bring into the room." Westreich observes that the barrage of images in mainstream life have made sexuality in art more mundane. "With the internet, and freedom of expression, there is not much to annotate about sexuality," she says. Her pick of the fair? Tariq Alvi's Poster for a Library, depicting a young man reading a book in a state of arousal. The screenprint is available from Cabinet (D16) for £1,200.

Much of the sex on display-and the examples finding buyers-tends to be toned-down. There is nudity, but fewer sexual acts. There are images appropriated from porn, but applied from a safe distance. Among the most popular are photographs by Ryan McGinley, who has shot nubile nudes for the past five years. These images were strong sellers at New York's Team Gallery (E15). An edition of three of a thin young man in a tunnel, suffused with golden light, sold out at $35,000 apiece. Another speedy seller was Philip-Lorcia diCorcia's 2008 Untitled (From the Series East of Eden) featuring a pair of elegant, white dogs glued to a grainy porn video on a television. Five out of eight, priced $25,000 apiece, sold by Friday afternoon.

Then there is work that is a harder sell. Three meticulous ballpoint drawings at London's Herald St (A5) by Cary Kwok are tucked in a small alcove at the back of the stand. They depict a priest, a Buddhist monk and a Hasidic Jew-eyes closed, aswoon, post-ejaculation. The work has a loyal following, according to Herald's Nicky Verber, but no sales. At £4,500 each, all three were available.

David Zwirner (G12) has brought a forceful 1964 portrait by the late American painter Alice Neel, priced at $160,000. The middle-aged blonde, Ruth Nude, is seated, legs spread. "We wanted to bring a really strong portrait," says Zwirner's Angela Choon. "I've been told people love it, but can't have it at home because of kids."

Tracey Emin's embroidered Dark Hole, 2009, at Lehmann Maupin (B13), depicts a disembodied female lower half, recalling the wavering line of Egon Schiele. The composition is stark: between a pair of spindly legs on stilettos, bejeweled hands frame a black orifice. Priced £115,000, the work had attracted interest, but no takers.

Younger dealers said there was plenty of sex lurking at the fair, but noted that a new generation of artists is referencing sex in new, conceptual ways. "If there is sex, it's more about using the theme of sexuality itself as a topic," says Zurich dealer Jean-Claude Freymond-Guth, who is showing at Sunday, a fair dedicated to emerging artists. Freymond-Guth's stand features Megan Francis Sullivan, a straight female artist who appropriates 1950s gay porn into her paintings. (Works are priced $1,400 to $6,000). "It's extremely coded. It's not about provocation or subjective desire."

The Frieze stand of Berlin dealer Johann König (E7) doesn't appear sexy at first, but an abstract painting by Nathan Hylden, with a smear of creamy white drippy paint, suggests bodily fluids. "Sex does sell," says Konig's gallery manager Gregor Hose. "But it has to be visually attractive and abstracted-a well-educated approach to the erotic." Like Clark, Hose believes art is related to sex. "There's always libidinous in it," says Hose. "Why do people buy art? It's an object of desire."

Priapus figure from Pompeii.