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Art Lust: Desire and the Work of Picasso and Klimt

Lynne Oliva, M.A., M.F.T

Abstract:

What do you see when you really take the time to look at a work of erotic art? What occurs in the intersubjective field between viewer and painting, artist and model, viewer and artist? The author examines the impact that deep personal engagement with a specific work of erotic art can generate, deriving from an imaginary dialogue between viewer and artist. The emphasis here is on the potential, intuited, and imagined conversation as it moves from the work’s surface to the deepest layers of the artist’s and viewer’s psyches, requiring a radically subjective perspective. The focus of this particular investigation is on two daring masterpieces of erotic art painted one hundred years ago in 1907: Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, generally considered to be the most important painting of the 20th century, and Gustav Klimt’s Danae. The discussion includes related works from the history of art as well as allusions to aspects of desire, erotic imagination, and psychologically subversive elements past and present. The author presents a highly personal examination of these two canvases applying the specific methodology elaborated, in the interest of opening up the potential space for deepening the way we think about and relate to erotic art.

Picasso, self-portrait, 1907

#1 Pablo Picasso, Self-Portrait, 1907, National Gallery, Prague
Oil on canvas, 50 x 46 cm. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York
© 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Picasso, Family of Saltimbanques

#2 Pablo PicassoThe Family of Saltimbanques, 1905, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Oil on canvas, 83 ¾" x 90 3/8" Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
© 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

#3 Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Oil on canvas, 8' x 7'8". Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest. Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York
© 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS, New York



Ingres, the Bather of Valipincon

#4 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Bather of Valipincon, 1808, The Louvre, Paris
Oil on canvas, 146 x 97 cm. Photo Credit: Reunion des Musees Nationaux/Art Resource, NY



Paul Cezanne painting

 #5 Paul Cezanne, The Eternal Feminine, 1877, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Oil on canvas, 17" x 20 7/8". Image courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles



Courbet, The Origin of the World

#6 Gustave Courbet, The Origin of the World, 1866, Muséee D'Orsay, Paris
Oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm. Photo Credit: Reunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY



Picasso, Vaginal Environment

#7 Pablo Picasso, Vaginal Environment, 1902, Private Collection
Ink and watercolor on paper, 23 x 16 cm. © Images Modernes, photo by E. Baudouin
©2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Klimt, Danae

#8 Gustav Klimt, Danaë, 1907, Hans Dichard Collection, Graz, Austria
Oil, silver, and gold on canvas, 77 x 83 cm. Image courtesy Hans Dichand Collection, Graz, Austria



Klimt, the Kiss

 #9 Gustav Klimt, The Kiss , 1907/1908, Austrian Gallerie, Vienna
Oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm. Photo Credit Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York



Klimt, Portrait of Adele Block Bauer

#10 Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, 1907, The Neue Gallerie, New York
Oil, silver, and gold on canvas, 138 x 138 cm.
Photo Credit: Erich Lessing, Art Resource/NY
This acquisition made available in part through the generosity of the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer



Klimt, Hope I

 #11 Gustav Klimt, Hope I, 1903, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Oil on canvas, 181 x 67 cm. Image courtesy National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

© 2003-2011 Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Last updated 2011.