Highlights from the Upcoming Erotic: Passion & Desire Auction at Sotheby's

Top Lists, Provoke! (NSFW)

February 15, 2018

From the first moment someone decided to create a little piece of drawing on a cave wall, artists were fascinated with the human form and the way they could replicate it on various surfaces. While artists experimented with human form in countless manners, Sotheby’s latest auction will be focusing on those who took this central subject of art history in the most provocative direction possible - creating erotic art.

Titled Erotic: Passion and Desire, this auction will take the visitors on a journey through the centuries, all in order to let them discover exceptional works of art that focus on the genre of provocation. A total of 89 artworks will be available for bidding.

Carefully balancing between their goals to shock and seduce, the artworks coming up at the Sotheby’s Erotic: Passion and Desire auction will be very diverse in terms of mediums. Those interested in purchasing erotic art will have a chance to choose from a rich variety of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, books and design.

Since some of the available artworks were made centuries apart from one another, the upcoming sale will also be an interesting opportunity to create juxtapositions between pieces, which will certainly deepen collectors' understanding of the subject matter at hand.

Since the representation of the naked body especially permeates our society today, a special accent shall be placed on the contemporary works of erotic and provocative art. With that in mind, we've assembled a selection of the ten most interesting provocative artworks made by modern and contemporary artists, which will be available for bidding during the upcoming Erotic: Passion and Desire auction.

Thomas Ruff - Nudes Go21, 2000

Often relying on technological advancements to realize new visual possibilities of photography, Thomas Ruff is renowned as a medium's great who's vital to the contemporary development of photo-making qualities:

I don’t believe in the psychologizing portrait photography that my colleagues do, trying to capture the character with a lot of light and shade. That’s absolutely suspect to me. I can only show the surface. Whatever goes beyond that is more or less chance.

This particular photo, titled as Nudes Go21, is a provocative composition featuring two males during an intercourse. Of course, this would not be a Ruff piece if something was not visually striking - Nudes Go21 is blurred to a point its content is barely identifiable yet it does not venture into the realm of abstraction.

Mel Ramos - H. Upmann, 2006

Mel Ramos’ provocative and humorous paintings are a fantastic mix of idealized nude women and imagery of popular culture, like Coca Cola bottles and famous movie posters.

On the other side, his sculptures are pretty much the same - H. Upmann portrays a naked brunette women sitting on a, you guessed it, H. Upmann cigarette.

Richard Avedon - Nastassja Kinski And The Serpent, Los Angeles, California, 1981

This limited edition print of the German actress Nastassja Kinski with a boa constrictor coiled around her naked body is among the best erotic works Richard Avedon created during his career.

This famous photo by the late American artist first appeared in a 1981 issue of Vogue magazine and was subsequently made into a best-selling poster. Nastassja Kinski being an international sex symbol at the time might have had something to do with it

Robert Mapplethorpe - Hooded Man (From Portfolio Z), 1980

The late Robert Mapplethorpe took this image during the year of 1980, at a time he was primarily concentrated on studio photography and what such settings had to offer to nudes.

Hooded Man fantastically demonstrate how Robert was able to academically master composition, color, texture and balance, despite having shocking content.

Jeff Koons - Dom Perignon Balloon Venus, 2013

Using a lacquered polyurethane resin and a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon Rose Champagne, Jeff Koons created this sculpture in 2013, rendering it in his uniquely colorful, balloon-like aesthetic.

By giving his own interpretation of the famous Venus sculpture, Koons proved just how adaptable his style really is, as well as just how erotic a near-abstract sculpture can be if executed in a right way.

Yves Klein - Venus Bleue (S 41), 1982

When you saw the name of Yves Klein, did you really thought this piece could be in any other color than International Klein Blue?

This highly erotic sculpture features a female torso depicted in a very detailed manner - yet, much like the preserved stone sculptures save from the times of Ancient Greece and Rome, limbs and a head are nowhere to be found.

It should be noted that Venus Bleue was initially conceived by Klein in 1962, but it was finally executed posthumously in 1982.

Lisa Yuskavage - Cool One Drinking Hot Tea, 2000

Primarily known for painting thin-armed, wide-hipped women who are both childlike and sexually brazen, Lisa Yuskavage created this piece of erotic art during the year of 2000.

Like most other subjects who find their way into Yuskavage's images, this one also seems to be filled with desire for herself. Cool One Drinking Hot Tea was painted with watercolors.

Pablo Picasso - Homme Et Femme Nus, 1971

Painted during the years Pablo Picasso's life was coming to an end, Homme Et Femme Nus is a fine indicator where the Spaniard's artistic style, too stubborn to succumb to age, was headed at the time.

Unusually over the board with provocative content when compared to other similar works Pablo painted during his life time, this drawing presents us with a couple during intercourse, depicted in Picasso's usual multi-perspective manner.

Nobuyoshi Araki - Untitled, 2002

This unique collage of 30 polaroid sx-70 prints is a masterful work of art Nobuyoshi Araki created in 2002. Although some of these pictures are far from being provocative in any sense of the word, a closer inspection reveals that many images are highly sexual.

Uncompromising in his approach as always, Araki included some borderline disturbing pictures in this untitled piece, many of which are closely connected to the controversial S&M scene.

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