Art Provocateur Gallery and STRUCK Contemporary have collaborated to bring THIS IS LUST to Toronto – a special event dedicated to celebrating sexuality and beauty of the female form through fashion editorial and nude art photography.
Hosted at Struck Contemporary gallery in the heart of Toronto, THIS IS LUST, brings a selection of limited edition fine art photographs from over 20 artists from around the globe. All pieces to be displayed at this premier event have been collected, tastefully, curated, and disseminate by visionary Marta Skky of Toronto and are designed to evoke curiosity, lust and desire.
“We must make lust into a work of art”
Art Provocateur Gallery is a global e-commerce platform that features tastefully curated, provocative, limited edition fine art prints and original artworks. Founded by two Toronto female entrepreneurs, APG supports some of the best editorial and nude art photographers in the world — from high fashion to BDSM and romantic erotica. Art Provocateur is a celebration of empowered sexuality through fine art photography.
Maybe today it's easy to succeed in the art of erotica, if by that for an artist, is meant to make an exhibition and find their name in the newspaper. But what really separates some artists from all...
Maybe today it’s easy to succeed in the art of erotica, if by that for an artist, is meant to make an exhibition and find their name in the newspaper. But what really separates some artists from all others is the ability to be noticeable without being aware that they have achieved this level of recognition. Despite numerous painters, who are lovers of paintbrushes and tempera, there are the artists who have driven their passion towards the digital and photography. One of them, the rarest among all, is Jan Saudek, a renowned Czech photographer.
“There are too many imitators – I do not want to show the way to anyone anymore.” – Jan Saudek
Born in Prague in 1935, several years just before World War II, Saudek is forced to face the consequences that will follow only because of his origins. His father was Jewish and many of his relatives ended their lives in a concentration camp. Jan and his brother were also deported to the camp, separated from their father, who shared the same fate with their sons. All of them survive this period. Stuck between memories of murdered children, the sound of shots, a person’s last breaths and his dreams, Jan begins to explore the possibilities and the magic of photography. In 1950 he got his first camera, Kodak Baby Brownie. This was the beginning of the art war lead by Jan against the political system, his family and his lustful dreams.
To understand his art, you need to glance into the deepest and darkest parts of his being. He is like a house with many floors and windows, each one offering a different view. Jan Saudek is the second child in the family, and as he said, “he is predestined to spend all his life as No. 2.” Saudek yearned for physical love since his young years. He lost his virginity at 15, with a girl who was also a virgin. His life is filled with failed relationships, passionate relationships, ruined marriages and separation from his children. Saudek, like any conscious artist, has managed in his own way to fight against the military and the communist regime. Often, he had no opportunity to express his views through his works because they were banned. Travelling to the USA was the first step that led Jan to success. He explored all forms of art, but mostly focused on his unique life companion: photography.
Jan Saudek has the courage that many of us dream of.
Life experiences, passions and interests are transferred to the works of Jan Saudek. He creates paintings and photos that speak of: the beauty of life, childhood, dreams, desires and unfulfilled plans, human nature, body and nudity, love and hate, sexuality and sexual attraction, passion, sadism and masochism, domination, melancholy, depression and doubts, life and death, fantasies hidden in the human mind. The works of this extraordinary artist could be the new art genre that has not been named yet.
Eroticism in the works of this Czech genius is shown through human body and nudity. Jan Saudek has the courage that many of us dream of. Through his photographs, he depicts the female body the way it is, no uniformity, no stereotypes or rules. The female body is presented as a figure of femininity. Sex, penetration, defloration and making love are not taboo for Jan Saudek. Rather, he revives these moments by putting emphasis on the most intimate parts of the human imagination. What other people were seeing as prohibited, incompatible and kitsch – Jan Saudek has used it as the foundation of his art. In the late seventies, his black and white images gain a new dimension; Saudek began to use techniques, which included color, tinting and hand painting. Using bold colors, Saudek reaches climax in displaying his individuality. His works not only depict nudity; they themselves are nudity. They are honest, open, without fear or embarrassment to show what lies in the mind and soul of an artist or a simple man. Many of the models in the pictures were his wives, girlfriends, lovers, and children.
The representation of women and the female body is easily noticeable in Saudek’s photographs. He exalts the naked body of a woman in a sophisticated, erotic way. Often it can be aggressive, even grotesque. The female sex organ, its utilization or purity is shown with unprecedented passion. Some of his photos show details of masochism and sadism, sexual domination of masculinity that owns the female body – all this without the intention to harm the woman. Rather, he loves all women beings through his sincere art. The male body is also represented. It is solid, tight and good-looking. The man in the work of Saudek adores the woman; he is experiencing sexual delirium, he enters into an unknown world of sexual fantasy and lust.
Other detail that must not be missed is the vacant room (chambre libre) that Jan uses when making portraits and expressions of his dreams, capturing the moment of imaginativeness. The room is empty; there is no furniture, only details and a model. Often, the room would have cloudy walls that take one’s mind to the farthest dreams using colorful carpet, skulls, cradles, sex toys, artworks, mirrors and props.
Saudek gives you a peek into his genius mind, and from his life experience brings us controversial beauty through erotica.
Art Provocateur is the premier online gallery of erotic art prints. Browse our erotic art gallery for limited edition and one-of-a-kind artwork. We have the largest selection of erotic and nude art from both established artists and rising stars.
So, you know about sex?
And indeed, she does. Dr. Laura Henkel is a sexologist and a specialist in erotic art. Laura’s curated exhibitions, performances, film premieres, and artists’ talks, have been...
And indeed, she does. Dr. Laura Henkel is a sexologist and a specialist in erotic art. Laura’s curated exhibitions, performances, film premieres, and artists’ talks, have been instrumental in bringing erotica into the public sphere in a thoughtful, visually fascinating and provocative way. She’s got the smarts, charm, confidence and beauty to enthrall.
In addition to these platforms, Laura is the founder of the groundbreaking gallery in Sin City Gallery, the site of over 100 exhibits, including an amazing Bunny Yeager exhibit as well as the contemporary artwork of Jeff Wack.
Dr. Laura Henkel is a sexologist and a specialist in erotic art.
The captivatingly smart and beautiful Laura is also the brain behind the well-known 12 Inches of Sin, Juried Exhibition of International Erotic Contemporary Art, now in its fifth year. This year saw the publication of a series of four books, one for every year of the exhibition, delightfully illustrated with artist’s statements, critical essays and forewords by people in the field: artists, performers, critics, curators and collectors.
As Laura puts it, there is so much art they can barely fit it in. Only a Texan with this much charm can enchant so many people into releasing their inhibitions about erotic and provocative art.
APG: So Laura, have you always been so “sex positive?”
Laura: My ‘sex positive’ nature stems from my upbringing. No subject was taboo and my parents taught me to respect diversity.
APG: Interesting. Do you think its intimidating to be in a relationship with a sexologist or just totally fun?
Laura: A little of both.
APG: Tell me about your favorite artistic expressions of sexuality –contemporary, modern, historic?
Laura: My favorite historic artistic expression is sculpture and primarily marble. Michelangelo’s ‘The Slaves’ is absolutely exquisite. There are so many other art forms that I enjoy: performance, video, photography, paintings. I like art that is intellectual. To me, that is sexy.
APG: Tell me more about your background please?
Laura: My undergraduate studies focused on transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unifying, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness. When I decided to attend graduate school, I knew I wanted to continue those studies by specializing in human sexuality. For me, human sexuality embodies body, mind and spirit, as a whole in its truest form.
APG: This is such a complex concept, and yet you make it clear with such ease. So okay, can you explain what a sexologist is?
Laura: Sexology is the scientific study of sexuality. A sexologist is someone who has studied all areas of sex including anatomy, physiology, sexual development, sexual orientation, the dynamics of sexual relationships, as well as the mechanics of sexual contact/acts. A sexologist looks to other disciplines to understand human sexuality such as history, sociology, psychology, biology, gender studies, and more, in order to see how sex works in the context of social, cultural and religious environments.
APG: What’s the craziest “sex-focused artwork” or “sex-focused artistic performance” you’ve organized?
Laura: Hmmm, craziest. I think that may be a moving target as to what may be considered reasonable. I do think ‘The Operation’ by Marne Lucas and Jacob Pander is one of the greatest artistic films ever made.
APG: People often seek tips, ideas, or sexy things like erotica to stimulate a relationship; do you have any standard advice for spicing things up?
Laura: As long as it is responsible, respectful and consensual… anything goes.
APG: I like this advice. So…Seduction: what is it?
Laura: Seduction is an art form in its own right. It is enticing. It is desirable. It is alluring.
APG: On the other side of the spectrum… You were once quoted saying that you have watched over 300 hours of porn. Was this part of your studies? Did this expand your knowledge of human sexuality and make you more open, or can this desensitize a person?
Laura: This was required curriculum for my graduate studies. The objective was to discover what my own judgments might be and the feelings associated to particular subject matters in order that I would not project or transfer my position onto someone else. The experience definitely made me think more openly and be clear about my own personal likes and dislikes.
APG: Fascinating! Are there particular types of people that seem universally appealing? Are they scientific or cultural reasons?
Laura: Sappho, from the Greek Island of Lesbos, was an intellectual poet who wrote many love poems to other women in 600 B.C. There has always been a fascination and fantasy in this context.
APG: People were excited about the work by Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama. It will only be the second exhibit of the artist’s work in the United States, so this is quite notable. I love his imaginative, humorous, and sexy work.
Laura: Yes we are so delighted to organize Hajime Sorayama’s show. Of course, I am a fan of the work; he is a true artist with an amazing imagination.
APG: I noticed that many women sexologists are also activists in some capacity, are you?
Laura: I believe that arts and culture are essential to creating an even greater community, and improving the quality of life of its citizens. Art challenges boundaries, fascinates, arouses and captivates by affording a peek into ourselves and others in its truest form.
APG: Thank you Laura, this has been really intriguing!
Art Provocateur is the premier online gallery of erotic art prints. Browse our galleries of limited edition and one-of-a-kind artwork. We have the largest selection of erotic and nude art from both established artists and rising stars.
Even during his earliest training as an artist, Mapplethorpe sought his own unique expression. During his time as a student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, Mapplethorpe built on the cutting-edge approaches of 20th century icons such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns by focusing on mixed media compositions. It was his acquisition of a Polaroid camera in 1970, however, that truly changed his approach completely. At first he saw photographs as a means to produce what he called “more honest” collages, but soon, as his finesse in the medium progressed, Mapplethorpe pursued photography as his main medium.
ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE | Maybelle
Though some of his initial series were commercial commissions, when shooting for himself Mapplethorpe most often focused his lens on the people that surrounded him: friends, fellow artists, and associates from the S&M underground. It was this more covert culture that came to dominate his artistic oeuvre. His aim in his imagery was not to exaggerate the erotic content. On the contrary, he saw his images as chronicling an under-documented aspect of American culture. “I don’t like the word shocking,” Mapplethorpe mentioned in an ARTnews interview in 1988 when discussing his images, “I’m looking for the unexpected.” He showcases this unexpected aspect in the way in which he crops his compositions.
In most frames we are not given an entire figure but rather just one of its tantalizing tidbits. On the one hand, such cropping can be seen as teasing the viewer, leaving him or her to imagine the remainder of the figure. On the other hand, this cropping creates a visual distance, or disconnect, that encourages the viewer not to idolize the model as a sex object but rather celebrate the sensual landscape of the body one frame at a time.
One of Mapplethorpe’s most striking series of nude female photographs was shot in the early 1980s. With his prominence as a photographer secured, Mapplethorpe used World Women’s Bodybuilding Champion Lisa Lyon as his muse. In this series, Mapplethorpe conjured intimate images that on the one hand played with the provocative, but on the other, celebrated the classical components of form and proportion. The result was a compelling compendium of images that showcased both the beauty of the female form and the artful eye of Mapplethorpe himself.
It was shortly after this series that Mapplethorpe’s health began to decline: 1986 brought the revelation that he was suffering from AIDS. He died three years later at the age of 43, and yet his status was already secured as one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century. This status is still secure today, as Mapplethorpe’s images are continuously recognized for their artful beauty.
AC, Chicago (2015)
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Taking the 80s by storm, Madonna stands as a legendary sex symbol who truly revolutionized the social culture of her decade. Embracing sex and rebellion as the cornerstones of her image, she fearlessly...
Taking the 80s by storm, Madonna stands as a legendary sex symbol who truly revolutionized the social culture of her decade. Embracing sex and rebellion as the cornerstones of her image, she fearlessly bashed conservative family values, leading an age of sexual liberation and free expression. With her risqué performances and clothes, she standardized a whole new level of provocation, carving her place as the queen of pop, and most importantly, the icon who empowered women to embrace their sexuality and social autonomy.
Madonna was a leader of a revolution that forever influenced the way we perceive erotic art. Through her sexy photos, she became a sign of free expression, showing the world that provocative art is more than just a feast for the eyes; it’s a symbol of empowerment and unbridled energy. In turn, Madonna’s exhibitionism expressed a clear agenda: Why merely shock people when you can lead a revolution?
Madonna made this agenda clear in 1985 when she posed topless for Playboy in collaboration with the photographer, Bill Stone. In these monochromatic photos, she poses full-frontal with unshaved privates and underarms, indicating a trendy bohemian attitude toward her nakedness.
The plain backdrop—instead of the standard glamorous background, enhances this effect, Madonna is posing within commonplace settings in most of the photos. Her simplicity and bluntness indicates a genuine, unembellished ownership over her body, producing an eroticism that is both real and attainable.
However, Madonna’s photos were perceived as lewd and distasteful, provoking a surge of public controversy surrounding her image as both a pop star and role model. Nevertheless, Madonna’s full-on nudity showed a rich confidence and a willingness to confront the conservative values of her era.
The authenticity and openness of her eroticism demonstrated self-approval and true liberation. In turn, she stripped away the shame and indignity that was commonly associated with erotic photography and introduced a rich and meaningful revival of this genre.
As her sexual identity matured, she continued to push the intensity of her erotic art. On October 21, 1992, she released “Sex,” a coffee table book filled with soft-core pornographic photographs. Shot by Steven Meisel Studio, the pictures carried a sadomasochistic nature, depicting Madonna in various bondage-related poses and interactions. Every aspect of the scene represented lawlessness and youth: her untidy bleached hair, the rope and cuff restraints, and the overall explicitness of the act.
Madonna was dubbed “The Queen of obscene.”
Traditionalists and moralists believed she had gone too far, while her fans shared mixed reactions – some bewildered, some amazed and some inspired. But most importantly, these antics begged the question: why?
At the heart of these photographs, we’re not merely seeing an aimless sensationalist at work, but rather something more powerful. She unleashes an inner ferocity that is inherent in all of us, but often suppressed. As a result, her photos not only bash the squeamish mainstream views of her time, but also invite people to welcome sexuality with new eyes.
Despite all the scandal surrounding Madonna’s eroticism, there really was a method to her antics. As the ringleader of modern sexuality through the 80s, Madonna’s exploits can be viewed as a demonstration of empowerment. Her naughty trademark and explicit nudity was a pathway to a new age of women and culture.
RE, Toronto (2015)
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Erotica is a term applied not only to literature and art, but media, objects, costume and performances that arouse, titillate and excite.
Examples of erotica span from what some might consider purely...
Erotica is a term applied not only to literature and art, but media, objects, costume and performances that arouse, titillate and excite.
Examples of erotica span from what some might consider purely pornography, to the literary delights of the ancient Roman poet Ovid and Shakespeare such as Venus and Adonis. The assessment of what constitutes erotica varies and fluctuates culture-to-culture, era-to-era.
In post enlightenment European culture, erotic art that provokes sexual feelings is often belied as too distracting because it does not sublimate ideas, but rather evokes feeling that some see as self-interested or out of control. One might wonder if this is more a problem of the critic than the audience of erotica in general.
People continue to collect and enjoy erotica despite censure.
Art is not always about intellectual deconstruction, for centuries it has been used to illicit feeling, of religious devotion, of horror and moral outrage, of national pride, of cautionary moral tales and for so long as intimate devices for sexual stimulation. Ironically, people continued to collect and enjoy erotic art despite censure, and artists continued to create and construct such works.
Provocative Art: It is amusing to note that dictionaries of the English language often include the definition of provocative as a drive to annoy or irritate.
Consider that those artists who dare to make provocative art and refuse to adhere to aesthetic standards regarding “obscenity” may do so not only out of pure obstinacy but also rather of very personal aesthetic vision and a certain amount of courage.
While some might see provocation as an ugliness, it can also be sublimely beautiful. Suppose it depends on one’s definition of sex and sexuality.
Think about the famously popular late nineteenth-early twentieth century French sculptor August Rodin, who has long been considered the first modern sculptor. This seminal artist defied common models of finished polished depictions of nudity. Using the device of stone carving emerging from raw stone, Rodin created explicit and provocative visions of sexuality that defied not only cultural expectations, but created an illusory world of the artist’s studio. Ultimately, we can connect this to the “modern” vision of artistic primacy.
Rodin’s sculpture provokes, and is the paradigm for sensuality, provocation, and the power of representational art to inflame, to provoke imagination. And yet, within this aesthetic we see, not only the physical act of two lovers intertwined, straining soft marble curves contrasting with the unfinished edges of stone, arching muscular torso, we see another kind of power, of physicality, that of the artist, masterly carving from stone, provoking admiration, a sense of the power of virility and art.
The influence of Rodin is seen in much of modernist sculpture including Aristide Maillol, Henry Moore, and Henri Matisse. Rodin’s way of working is also seen in the sensual depiction of the erotic human body in photography and drawing particularly gesture, line, texture, and form.