Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday dear honesterotica, happy birthday to us!
To celebrate our first five years we asked you, our wonderful followers and visitors, to tell us something about what sort of erotic art and illustrations works best for you, and why it is important to have a resource like honesterotica to display and explore the vast amount of wonderful art which has been created over the centuries, yet much of it unknown and unseen as ‘difficult’ material, often censored or confused with exploitative pornography.
And you haven’t failed us! Here are the first of your thoughtful and supportive contributions, with more to come …
The sort of erotic art and illustration that excites me most makes me wish I was there. Erotica presents us with another world, a world that may be similar to ours but somehow better. The erotic world has all the beauty of our world but none of the strife or malice or the mundane annoyances which seem to prevent us living life to the full. It’s a place where we can be fearless about expressing or living out our desires – even if fearfulness is part of the dream. This sounds like a contradiction, but if I imagine myself kneeling, trembling naked before my goddess, then that very nervousness is part of the excitement. Erotica’s ‘other world’ is in fact our inner world.
I couldn’t say I have a favourite erotic artist nor could I list the qualities an erotic artwork must have; for example, I may be drawn to the sinister alleyways of Bruno Schulz with hapless men worshipping at the feet of indifferent women, but I’m equally entranced by the whimsical charm of Clara Tice and would love to visit the surreal – not to say bonkers – world of Marion Fayolle.
Speaking of Clara and Marion brings me to another point, the additional piquancy of erotica created by women, Gerda Wegner, Bele Bachem and Charlotte Berend being some of my favourites. It’s a truism of the art world (where I’ve spent a good deal of my working life) that the painted nude is an expression of ‘the male gaze’. It always seemed a shame to me, even as a student, that we never got to see ‘the female gaze’. Where were the erotic artworks by women? What is the female gaze? Even artists who paint the nude tend to paint other women – such as the wonderful Aleah Chapin. In the world of erotic illustration however, no such inhibition exists. Here we can see the erotic imaginations of women delighting in the body, revelling in the fun.
Finally I must say congratulations to all at honesterotica for compiling such a wonderful site; such a marvellous range of artists and, no doubt, even more to come. Keep up the good work!
Paul (@paul.g.56 on Twitter)
The sort of erotic art and illustration that excites me most is that which transports me through some imaginary window into another world in ways that are sexually arousing, emotive, and add fuel to my already fertile imagination. For me erotic art is all about creating a fantasy, a mood and a transience. I don’t have a favourite artist or art style, because it depends on how I feel at any given time, but as you’re putting me on the spot I tend to prefer realism – Herouard, Malassis and Courth. Looser styles of impressionism and even cartoon – Dignimont, Tice or Trilleau – are fine, though when humour is the obvious theme I find it ‘saucy’ rather than erotic – Serre, Siné or Crumb. I find abstract art largely unappealing in any genre, simply because I don’t want to work too hard!
Ultimately my preferences inevitably reflect my kinks and my sexuality. Starting with the latter, I would say most hetero scenarios appeal, and I also find lesbian erotic art highly erotic – participant in one and voyeur of the other. However excellent the art style and execution, I’m unable to find gay erotic art appealing.
As a romantic, I have a special love of art from the pre-1960s era, not only for what is depicted, but equally for the clothes and settings that provide a window into the past. On a controversial note, erotic art depicting minors, animals or the use of inanimate objects is for me a reflection on life’s rich tapestry across the ages; such portrayals present me with no moral problems, they have been used literally and allegorically throughout the history of art.
Since my kink is for spanking and corporal punishment (more of this art please!), I find this context for erotic art to be particularly appealing, and again I am drawn to art and artists of a bygone era. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but c’est la vie.
Finally, in whatever art I look at it, important aspects are the quality of execution and attention to detail that need to fit somewhere on my ‘spectrum of desire and acceptance’.
David (@grey_strokes on Twitter)
The sort of erotic art and illustration that excites me most is when the piece was clearly created to appeal to the individual artist’s specific attractions, without regard for judgement or relating to a larger audience. Even if the particular scene being depicted isn’t something that specifically appeals to me, I think that art created solely for oneself – especially art of a sexual nature – is the most honest and powerful, and often stirring – when artists aren’t concerned about how other people will perceive their work they can leap out of the box, defy expectations, make things no one else would think to make. Art that appeals to a large audience is familiar and comforting, but art for the individual is different and exciting.
Yet erotic art that’s made for just the artist themselves is also comforting in its own way. Everyone has absurd thoughts, sometimes violent, often deviant from societal norm or acceptance. This is especially true when it comes to sex. We very seldom share these ideations, or even fully acknowledge them ourselves, so on seeing art that springs directly from those sorts of thoughts we can find a moment of validation. We can think ‘Thank god, I’m not the only one who thinks of things like this.’
Modern society heavily stigmatises discussion of anything taboo surrounding sex, and in certain online spaces we’re seeing a resurgence of puritanical culture. We’re made to believe that if we have thoughts that exist outside the realm of the widely accepted, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with us that should be hidden away. Erotic art that takes a person’s unfiltered, base, animal fantasies and puts them on paper is one powerful weapon against that. It says ‘Hey, it’s human nature to have some weird, fucked-up thoughts about sex. It’s not always something to celebrate, but it’s not the end of the world, either.’
So when I see art where the artist has drawn themself very small and being crushed under the foot of a thirty-foot-tall naked woman, a little part of me rejoices. Does that particular fantasy personally appeal to me? No, it doesn’t. But it does to that guy, and probably some other people too, and now they have something to connect with, a touchstone to the reality that is the absurdity of human sexuality.
Jo (@queerwonder on Twitter)