Top 10 Classic Arts Are Way More Sexual Than You Remember

7234 People Viewed - about 46 months ago Culture

We're here to let you in on a pretty widely known secret about art history: It's dirtier than you remember. 

In celebration of the brand new Erotic Garden and Teahouse in Thailand, we've put together a list of the Top 10 most jaw-dropping-ly sensual artworks you might have forgotten about.

Behold, 10 classic works that are way naughtier than you remember.

10.Miyagawa Isshō's "Spring Pastimes"

Created in 1750, this shunga scroll depicts a tryst between two men, one likely a samurai and the other a kabuki actor taking on a sexualized female role. 

9.Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon)"

Picasso's famous Primitivist painting portrays five nude prostitutes allegedly from a brothel in Barcelona. With their unconventional female forms and relentless gazes, the image is a proto-Cubist version of erotica. 

8.Édouard Manet's "Olympia"

Look familiar? Manet's 1863 painting is based roughly on Titian's "Venus" and Goya's "Nude Maja."  

According to accounts from writer Antonin Proust, the painting of a prostitute was so scandalous that "only the precautions taken by the administration prevented the painting being punctured and torn" at its debut exhibition. 

7.Peter Paul Rubens's copy of Michelangelo's "Leda and the Swan"

For early 17th century audiences, it was likely more acceptable for a woman to be shown engaging in explicit acts with a bird than with an actual human being.  

Hence, "Leda and the Swan," based on the Greek myth in which Zeus takes the form of a swan and "seduces" a woman named Leda. Artists like Cesare da Sesto and Paul Cezanna also chose the crude story as inspiration for paintings. 

6.Egon Schiele's "Friendship"

Despite the title, there's a underlying sense of sexuality in Schiele's depiction of two naked individuals, embracing in a twist of line and form reminiscent of the great Austrian painter's intense figurative works. 

5.Titian's "Venus of Urbino"

Mark Twain once called Titian's Venus "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses." With her unabashed nudity and strong gaze into the viewers' eyes, the nude female in this 1538 work of art is undeniably erotic. 

4.Paul Cezanne's "Seven Bathers"

Cezanne is well known for his various images of nude bathers, many of whom were women.  

"Seven bathers," however, portrays the figures of nude men -- though some are rather androgynously rendered. This scene of beautifully crafted male bodies is surely not the most erotic of subject matter, but the ways in which the artist toyed with classical representations of the body and the relationship between the viewer's gaze and nakedness makes for a borderline erotic aesthetic.  

It is assumed that Cezanne, due to a lack of available models, painted this from memory or imagination. 

3.Francisco de Goya's "The Nude Maja"

This circa 1800 painting will go down in history as "the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art -- thought to be at least one of the first explicit depictions of female pubic hair.  

At the time of its creation, the Catholic Church banned the display of artistic nudes, so Goya's nude woman and its more modest counterpart, "The Clothed Maja," were never exhibited publicly during the artist's lifetime. 

2.Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights"

Ok, so you may associate "The Garden of Earthly Delights" with its array of terrifying, otherworldly creatures, but the painting has its fair share of sensual details.  

Dating from between 1490 and 1510, the work plays host to a whole carnival of sins, including the acts in the image above, in which nude men and women are seen frolicking with each other, horses, birds, mermaids, plants... you name it.  

Writer Laurinda S. Dixon described it as teeming with "a certain adolescent sexual curiosity."

1.Katsushika Hokusai's "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife"

There's almost no ambiguity regarding the erotic nature of this painting. The print -- a perfect example of Japanese shunga art -- depicts a fisherman's wife deriving pleasure from a rather unique encounter with an octopus.  

But do you recognize the artist's name? Yes, the man behind "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" had more than landscape likenesses up his sleeve.


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