Eroticism in Art History = Awkward?

November 2014.

So I was browsing art history books on Amazon when I came across the book "Erotic Art: An Annotated Bibliography with Essays" by Eugene C. Burt, as seen below.

And as you can see, judging by the cover, it is quite possibly the least sexy book about erotic art you will ever see.

396 pages of essays about erotic art - quite possibly without even showing erotic art.

The white tag on the cover makes me think it was stolen from a library and someone is trying to sell it. Hence why there are 6 used copies available.

It got me thinking about how awkward it must be sometimes for university students to be writing essays on the topic of erotic art and then having to submit their essay to their possibly ugly professor. Or maybe the professor is totally hot and looks like Tom Selleck or Cindy Crawford (you know, once they got older, but still very attractive).

I can only guess some students will feel mightily embarrassed about handing in their essay about eroticism in the art work of [insert artist name here]. It could even lead to awkward silences or awkward conversations.

(Although to be fair I think the awkwardness would be even worse if someone was caught using a plagiarized essay from an essay writing company and then got kicked out of their university for academic dishonesty.)

I have a feeling students might feel more comfortable about talking about sex in art / eroticism in art if the professor swore once in awhile. A few F-words here and there might allow students to relax a bit more and be able to talk about eroticism without all the embarrassment.

Or maybe some of them will be like many typical (or stereotypical) university students and be drunk / stoned / sex-crazed maniacs in their early 20s who can eloquently talk about "the money shot" in pornography as if they were discussing 18th century French literature. With no awkwardness at all.

The type of people I have no doubt would get along with Flavio and Alexandra, the authors of "How to Read Erotic Art". I have a hunch, just guessing, but my hunch is that Flavio and Alexandra were dating (or maybe have an open relationship) when they were writing their book.

"How to Read Erotic Art" is just one of many books on this topic, but according to description it does go into depth into the idea of how interpret erotic art and possibly also how to talk about erotic art. It therefore might be one of the few books which 'breaks the ice' or 'kills the elephant in the room' when it comes to talking about erotic art.

Most people after all just sort of awkwardly stare at erotic art and then look away embarrassed. When asked what they liked about it they respond with something generic. "It was, uh, very realistic." or "I liked the symbolism."

Erotic art books often become top sellers and yet surprisingly most people only look at the pictures and never "read" the book in question. You should, in theory, do both just so you learn more from the book and garner all the knowledge that is to be learned on the topic you paid money for.

There are 1,225 books, art history books, graphic novels, manga and more on the topic of 'erotic art history' on Amazon.com. If I use eroticism instead of erotic, the list is reduced to 78 - and includes everything from paintings to pottery to Pompeii frescoes.

It is a big long list. The type of books you expect to see on the coffee table in your aunt's condo - you know, the aunt who never married and brings a new man to Christmas gatherings every year. And each year the men seem to get younger. (Another stereotype, huzzah!)

The same aunt who gave you "the talk" when you were 15 and was later scolded by your parents for overstepping her boundaries as an aunt. The same aunt who made raunchy jokes you didn't get when you were younger but now think are hysterical. The same aunt who gave you a giant box of condoms and an "how to guide" when you went off to university and just smiled and drank her wine when the other relatives just looked aghast and awkward.

If you managed to survive having an aunt like that, chances are likely you are surprisingly well adjusted, well-informed and "adult" when it comes to all things dealing with sex and eroticism. You probably didn't get your liberal-mindedness from your parents.

And if you've managed to read this post all the way to the bottom, you are most definitely liberal minded.

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