• Bondage Photography

    The Art of Bondage | Shibari and the West

    BDSM did not become popular in the East until the late 19th-century. But when it began to catch on, it brought Shibari, the art of bondage, to Western culture. Shibari is a form of erotic rope bondage...

    BDSM did not become popular in the East until the late 19th-century. But when it began to catch on, it brought Shibari, the art of bondage, to Western culture. Shibari is a form of erotic rope bondage that plays a significant role in a lot of BDSM photography.

    Bondage Photography
    Craig Morey | Natalie 81098.04

    The Origin of Rope Bondage

    Before rope bondage was used for pleasure it was used for pain. The precursor to Shibari is the Japanese art of Hojõjutsu. Samurai used Hojõjutsu to restrain and torture their prisoners with a rope or cord.

    While Hojõjutsu has a practical purpose, it places a lot of focus on aesthetics and symbolism. The specific tying and placement of knots honours the prisoner. It varies depending on the status of the captured person(s) and the reason for their restraint.

    An accused prisoner, for instance, was tied without knots to avoid public shame before the judicial system decided their guilt.

    Rope bondage requires an intimate knowledge of the human anatomy to understand how to tie the ropes in a manner that is both effective and aesthetically pleasing. Elaborate and beautiful techniques were signs of respect and skill.

    By the end of the 19th-century an offshoot of the art, Kinbaku had emerged. This took the principles of Hojõjutsu but applied them for erotic purposes. Artists used simple geometric shapes that accentuate the shape of the body or to convey meaning.

    Shibari Photography
    Craig Morey | 0013BW

    Adoption Into Western BDSM Art

    Kinbaku made its way into Western BDSM culture during the 1990s, where it is commonly known as Shibari. This use of rope bondage remains a popular erotic art today.

    Shibari has become an erotic performance art. Artists put on live shows where the audience can witness the binding and tying, as well as admire the finished bondage piece. The artists ties the ropes and places the knots with forethought to create an artful, aesthetic result.

    BDSM photographers often use rope bondage to capture evocative still frames. These erotic prints are in high demand as a skilled artist and photographer can capture a powerful, beautiful scene.

    Artists use dozens of tying patterns with multiple variations of each. Depending on the image they want to convey, or the sensation they want to give the tied subject, they may use symmetrical or asymmetrical patterns.

    Some of the varying themes of rope bondage in BDSM art include:

    • Exchange of Power
    • Beauty
    • Relaxation
    • Pleasure
    • Vulnerability
    • Strength
    • Submission
    Bondage Photograph
    Craig Morey | 81098.02

    Purpose of Bondage Art

    The purpose and goal of bondage art are different for all parties involved. The model receives physical and sensual pleasure. The artist presents a mastery of craft. The audience gets sexual gratification and appreciation of the art.

    The “captive” model is an active participant in bondage art. The correct application of Shibari provides physical, sexual, and perhaps spiritual pleasure. Knot placement activates pressure points that provide a massage-like release, as well as stimulating the flow of ch’i energy.

    Proper rigging can induce a euphoric state by causing a release of endorphins and adrenaline. In bondage photography, the photographer may attempt to capture this state of “rope-drunkenness” in still frame.

    The mastery of the artist is on display both in their ability to provide these results in the model and in the overall aesthetic appeal of the bondage. The rigger must balance form and function, creating an ideal display for both the artist and the audience.

    The audience gets to appreciate the beauty and skill of the rigging. The art evokes erotic pleasure through the presentation itself as well as by living vicariously through the model.

     

    Shop Bondage BDSM Art

    There is an increasing desire to decorate the home with nude art. Bondage is an especially provocative art form. It can create a striking display, or increase the level of intimacy in a room. Shop our BDSM photography collection for bondage art prints and originals.

  • woman with BDSM hand cuffs

    Prisoners of Love: An Introduction to BDSM Art

    BDSM artwork is truly provocative. Both inside and outside of BDSM culture it receives strong reactions with its evocative imagery. Although often misunderstood historically, in recent years it has become...

    BDSM artwork is truly provocative. Both inside and outside of BDSM culture it receives strong reactions with its evocative imagery. Although often misunderstood historically, in recent years it has become increasingly chic to add to collections.

    Themes of BDSM Art

    The main themes of BDSM artwork include an exchange of power, empowerment, gender and sexual fluidity. It is an evocative and erotic art style that has emerged from underground culture.

    Power

    At its core, BDSM art is about power. Practitioners derive pleasure from an exchange of power, whether giving up control or taking control. This theme is exemplified by the acronym:

    • Bondage
    • Discipline
    • Sadism
    • Masochism
    Empowerment

    During the past 50 years, another theme has emerged. BDSM artwork has become a symbol of empowerment. It helped to spurn the female sexual revolution, as well as revolutionizing gay culture. This combats old misconceptions of BDSM art as being anti-feminist and heteronormative.

    Gender & Sexual Fluidity

    For decades, BDSM has been ahead of the curve on ideas of gender and sexual roles and identities. It moves outside of concepts like straight, gay, transexual, and traditional gender roles. The gender and sexual fluidity in BDSM disrupt traditional binary identities and roles.

    A Brief History of BDSM | Timeline

    The concepts of BDSM has been a part of human culture dating back to the eras of pre and protohistory. Throughout this timeline, it’s often part of an underground culture, with occasional resurgences into more mainstream society.

    ~4,000 BCE Mesopotamia

    The goddess Inanna dates back at least as far as the Uruk period in ancient Mesopotamia. The “Queen of Heaven,” Inanna was the goddess of love, procreation, sensuality, fertility, and war. She is said to have whipped her human followers, driving them into a sexual frenzy.

    ~500 BCE Greece

    In ancient Greece, BDSM played a role in sexual culture. It dates back to at least the 5th Century BCE. The Spartan men and women included ritual whipping for sexual pleasure in the Tomba Della Fustigazione (Tomb of Whipping). The walls of the tomb are decorated with artwork depicting BDSM.

    Spartan BDSM Art
    Tomba della Fustigazione | Tarquinia, Italy
    1500s AD Europe

    More modern examples of BDSM artwork started popping up in the 16th century. Erotic art and literature gained popularity. The imagery consisted of whipping and reversals of power roles for sexual pleasure.  Servants were featured dominating their masters and mistresses. BDSM art started to pop up in England, France, and Germany.

    1789 France

    In 1789, the Marquis de Sade released the controversial book 120 Days of Sodom. His work in erotica transformed BDSM artwork. The works were graphic and polarizing to much of society. But they also introduced ideas of sexual pleasure from beating, humiliation, rope bondage, and cutting. The realm of BDSM art was expanded by de Sade’s works.

    ~1850 Japan

    The introduction of Japan to BDSM as an art dates back to the late Edo period. Kinbaku, “the beauty of tight bonding,” came into being as an erotic art. The ropework used geometric shapes to contrast the natural shape of the submissive’s body.

    1920 Germany

    Following the First World War, people needed a release. The war had taken its toll on Germany physically and financially, and the people needed a release. For many, this release involved joining clubs where BDSM was practiced. The rise of fascism forced this culture into the underground before the Second World War.

    Late 1940s USA

    In the wake of World War Two and the terror of the Cold War, BDSM once again became a form of release. The underground BDSM scene began to grow in America with the distribution of magazines like Bizarre. In this magazine, BDSM photographer, John Willie, established the basis of the modern aesthetics of the genre.

    BDSM photography featured models in high heels, leather, latex, corsets, rope and leather bondage. It also resulted in the rise of the pin-up girl.

    Bettie Page Pin-Up
    Bettie Page | Bizarre Magazine
    1950s USA

    Betty Page, the Queen of the Pin-Ups, was the most prominent model of this new style of BDSM art. She was an icon of the strength of femininity and of embracing female sexuality. She is often credited as being the catalyst of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

    Learn more about the evolution of the pin-up girl in: Contrasting Modern & Vintage Pin-Up Art

    In the modern period, this is when BDSM began to transition from the underground to an artistic phenomenon and movement.

    1990s

    The 1990s did a lot to bring BDSM to mainstream society. The emergence of the internet led to many people’s first exposure to BDSM and a spike in its popularity. As well, artists like Marilyn Manson brought attention to the lifestyle and art form.

    2011

    The release of 50 Shades of Gray. It’s not hardcore, and it’s certainly not the pinnacle of literature – but its success signifies an acceptance of BDSM by mainstream society. The novel quickly became a best-seller and was adapted into a successful movie in 2015.

    BDSM was no longer just for underground culture, it had been adopted by soccer moms around the world. It showed the world was ready to accept BDSM art, not as a perversion, but as a fulfillment of a sexual and personal fantasy.

    Today, there is a rising demand for BDSM art. People are decorating their home with provocative paintings, paintings, and artwork. Much to our pleasure, more BDSM artists are exploring this style in all sorts of mediums than ever before.