Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lesbian art by Betty Dodson

Girlfriends (1970s)

Betty Dodson (b. 1929) is an American artist and sex educator who preaches a positive feminist approach to sexuality which positions itself quite separately from what she sees as much of feminism which, she feels, has a tendency to have a negative "anti" stance rather than a positive stance.  We have to say we find most of her arguments quite convincing.

 Lesbian lovers (1981) illustration for an article about sex in zero gravity

Originally studying art in the fifties and then working as a fashion illustrator she had an influential show in New York 1968 called the Love Picture exhibition which showcased the erotic art she was producing.  We'll look at some of these heterosexual images another time.

 Power Struggle (1967)

Dodson has worked in many different media and styles in the last thirty five years or so of her erotic art but in nearly all of her images there is a tenderness that speaks to real erotic connection rather than soulless pornography.

 Two women (1962)

Some of these pictures have an old master feel to them and were produced for their own sake while some were produced as illustrations.

Two women sharing the same vibrator (1986)

Two women (1986)

These two come from Dodson's book Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving which is a rather curious mix of self-help guide and racy autobiography.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weltmeister by Heinrich Kley

Master of the World

Here is an amusing drawing by German artist Heinrich Kley.  Three naked lovelies pour Champagne down the throat of a prostrate gentleman who seems to be having no difficulty keeping his precariously balanced top hat over his groin.  The picture is nicely ambiguous: are the girls trying to entertain him or immobilise him?  Is it his fantasy or theirs?  Is he really the master of the world or is he deluding himself.

Decorate your home

Kley is an interesting and influential artist who had a huge change of style mid career.  Born in Karlsruhe in 1863 he studied at the Karlsruhe Akademie and initially painted landscapes, historical subjects and still-life.  Gradually he evolved a talent for portraying industrial scenes and was employed by many of Germany's big factories.

Fruit fairy

After the Great War, although he was aware of and in contact with expressionist artists he rejected their bold use of colour in favour of pen and ink illustrations.  Rather looser than his contemporaries his drawings demonstrate wonderful draftsmanship and a particular facility for rendering the human figure.

Most of his drawing have a fantastical element with certain elements occurring regularly, such as Gulliver like mixes of different sized humans, classical creatures like centaurs and satyrs and anthropomorphised animals.

Travelling in Europe in 1935 Walt Disney collected many of Kley's drawings and may have met him.  Disney acknowledged, as did his animators, that Kley was a huge influence on the  look of Fantasia (1940) which included sinuous alligators, centaurs and daintily dancing hippos and elephants. In a TV interview in 1964 Disney said: “Without the wonderful drawings of Heinrich Kley, I could not conduct my art school classes for my animators.”

Certainly you can see how his art influenced more recent illustrators and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Frank Frazetta, for one, had seen Kley's drawings.

Kley produced a lot of work for the German art magazine Jugend between the wars but his work seems to have fallen out of favour with the coming of the Nazis (Jugend itself ceased publication in 1940).  Kley, essentially, disappeared from the public eye and it's not even known when he died; some time between 1945 and 1952

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Les Deux Amies by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée

We recently posted a nicely sensual painting by the French painter Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée.  Here, however, is something which is much more blatantly erotic.

The Two Friends depicts two women lying in bed their legs arranged in the scissors position of tribades.  In  fact, our friend S from Vancouver says that this position is now not approved of by lesbian fundamentalists who argue that it is a position borne of male fantasy.  If so, it is an old fantasy as there are many pictures depicting women in this position in the past centuries.

The blonde sprawls in ecstasy, legs spread, while the brunette strokes her arm with her toes.  Lagrenée's couple are not actually depicted in the act but the position is hugely suggestive and the hint of the blonde's pubic hair shows that this picture, which is unlike anything else in Lagrenée's oeuvre, was painted either for himself or, more likely, a private collector.  

It was sold to another private collector at Christies in 1997 for $115,000; more than twice the estimate.