Art which celebrates the erotic once decorated most public buildings and public squares. After the Church settled itself in Rome, most of the penises were lopped off the statuary that filled the city's public spaces. Yet the art of the Renaissance, often produced at the behest of generous churchmen, portrayed Biblical figures in varying states of nakedness. And Michaelangelo's heroic David has survived with his manhood intact.
In the twentieth century, a great outcry arose from social conservatives against any representation of the erotic. (A hilarious video exists showing a senior Justice Department official railing against pornography while standing in front of a fully nude statue of Justice...) Movies were rated according to their erotic content, so that children could be protected from -- what? Knowing where they came from? And, curiously, there was no perceived problem with allowing kids to see realistic scenes of murder, war and other violence.
All this has had a profound sex-negative influence on our culture. At the same time the pornography industry has flourished, taking in more income annually than all pro sports and all classical music and dance performances combined! Southern humorist Roy Blount once remarked that the message he received about sex in his family was "Your body is the temple of the Lord, and it's filthy, don't touch it!" Our culture is simultaneously sexually repressed and obsessed with sex.
The body of work that expresses the beauty and joy of ecstatic sex is a profound antidote to the cultural static described above. See the sections below to explore fine examples of erotic art.