Monday, 24 December 2007


Seduced: Art & Sex From Antiquity To Now, an exhibition at the Barbican in London (from 12th October 2007 until 27th January 2008), presents an historical survey of sex as represented in various artistic media from Classical sculpture to contemporary photography.

Every significant field is included: Japanese illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries, Victorian and early 20th century erotic photography from the Alfred Kinsey collection, outrageous drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, Surrealist images by Man Ray, illustrations for Justine and The Philosophy Of The Boudoir, and the Kama Sutra. There are even late drawings by Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso, and an early (self-satisfied) Picasso self-portrait. Sex in contemporary art is represented by Andy Warhol's film Blowjob, and collections of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe (his most sado-masochistic, homoerotic images), Nobuyoshi Araki (close-up, eroticised images of isolated organs and snails), Jeff Koons (quasi-pornographic self-portraits with Ilona Staller), Thomas Ruff (out-of-focus images appropriated from porn websites), and Nan Goldin.

Goldin's work, a slide-show of naturalistic images, is the only exhibit to carry an individual 'explicit content' warning, although the Kinsey slideshow is far more graphic; the Goldin warning may be a precautionary reaction to the fuss over her recent Baltic exhibition. There are very few notable omissions, though Warhol would have been better represented by Blue Movie, and Carolee Schneemann's film Fuses should have been included, as should Andres Serrano's History Of Sex photographs.

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