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Ornela Vorpsi (1968)

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A strange but still highly collectable book is the book by Ornela Vorpsi, an Albanian writer/photographer who’s work i first encountered through a publication which is available at WWW.FTN-BOOKS.COM. An excellent and beautiful publicatioin by SCALO publishers who have a nose for new talented photographers. Photographs which are mysterious and erotic at the same time. Recommended and as said …..collectable.

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Marlene Dumas and the MD publication

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Another blog on Dumas….. an artist i admire very much and who’s name is now settled in the art world as one of the great living contemporay artists. It is important these last few words….. This last sentence shows the appreciation of Dumas worldwide, but still there are institutions like eBay, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram that are so shortsighted and puritan that they can not recognize a great work of art because it shows some nudity. It is allowed to say and write the most horrible things and even show complete massacres on these sites but a great work of art is removed because it shows a nipple or a womans breast. Unfair for the artist and it shows the puritan nature of those who manage the greatest sites and social network on this earth. So specially for those of you who like myself still admire Marlene Dumas and her great watercolours , here are some examples from her MD publication which was made for her travelling exhibition and showed at MUHKA, Henie Onstad and the Camden Art center. The book is available at www.ftn-books.com and lets please keep an open mind on nudity in photographs and paintings.

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Felicien Rops (1833-1898)

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A true artist of the FIN DUS SIECLE. On a peer with Toulouse Lautrec and exercising his art on the edge of society. Where Toulouse Lautrec found his inspiration in cafes and brothels, Rops was more of an erotic caricaturist who was not a great fan of religion and the church. In many cases he offended the church in making drawings with a less pious christ,

but he was a master in drawing and made drawings that had two layers. The first was the masterful drawing, the second underlying layer was its erotic contents.

His drawings were forbidden for a very long time , but nowadays his drawings are recognized as true pieces of art and mainly in Belgium Rops has received many a retrospective exhibition of which some of the publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Aat Veldhoen (1934-2018)

Perhaps he wasn’t the greatest dutch artist that ever lived, but still Veldhoen deserves his place in art history . He was the artist who almost “commercially” destroyed himself, by making his prints available for ALL and in someway inventing the multiple for the masses.

He drew his subjects directly on the plate and made rotaprints from these plates. Used cheap papers and sold these prints, which were not signed nor numbered from a cart run by Robert Jasper Grootveld for the extremely small amount of 3 dutch guilders. It meant that with so many works by Veldhoen on the market, his paintings and drawings were not valued as they should be.

Aat Veldhoen was a well known and colorful figure in the dutch art scene and had a 20 year relationship with Hedy d’Ancona, the former minister of Culture from the Netherlands.

 

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Bettina Rheims ( 1958 ) another controversial title

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Here it is…another rarely encountered Bettina Rheims title. It is LES ESPIONNES.

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Published by one of the best photography publishers Gina Kehayoff, it stayed a rather obscure title and was rarely reviewed nor it was ordered by the regular Bookstores. My guess is the editions stayed under 1000 copies of which a few hundred were sold. What becomes of such an edition.? Not sold through the regular sales channels, only a handful loyal collectors who ordered it and certainly no interest by companies to have an imprint with their name on the cover. The reason…it is clear to me ..the subjects are transgenders who posed and were photographed by Bettina Rheims during the process of their transition. This has become one of the most important titles by Bettina Rheims and i was lucky to buy me a small stack of these important photography documents. The book is available through www.ftn-books.com and is still in mint sealed condition.

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Wout Muller (1946-2000)

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Wout Muller , a member of the group of New Realist painters will certainly grow in importance and appreciation in the next decades to come. His technique and detailing is the best possible and his compositions are timeless. In many cases the paintings and drawings contain some erotic elements, which make their appeal certain for all decades to come.

Of course there are other realist painters who use erotic elements to enhance their paintings. Melle, Aat Veldhoen and Hans Kanters are among them, but none of them knows exactly how to create a landscape that looks more than a “dream” and has the softness needed to be an outstanding painting and not an ensemble of erotic objects. Yes, from all these painters Wout Muller is my personal favorite. www.ftn-books.com has some wout Muller titles available.

 

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Paul Cuvelier (1923-1978) and EPOXY

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For Paul Cuvelier comics were a necessary way to earn money. His true heart lay in painting and sculpting, especially nudes which showcased his passion for the beauty and anatomy of the human body. Cuvelier’s fine art was characterized by a sensuality which has been described as “slumbering eroticism”. The same can be said about some of his comics. Even the juvenile heroes in his ‘Corentin’ stories are scantily clothed most of the time. The friendship between Corentin and Kim can be interpreted in the same homo-erotic subtext as the companionship between Jacques Martin’s Alix and Enak. His final ‘Line’ story also featured a more sexy presentation of the heroine. The 1973 ‘Corentin’ story ‘Le Royaume des Eaux Noires’ featured much nudity and hinted at a sexual relationship between the protagonist and Zaïla. By then, Cuvelier and Van Hamme had already created their groundbreaking erotic graphic novel ‘Epoxy’ (1968).

Epoxy, by Cuvelier
Epoxy

‘Epoxy’ was created in the wave of adult-oriented comics, which found its breeding ground in the American underground comix movement. The first generation that grew up with the post-war comics continued to embrace the medium, which opened up new possibilities for creators. Free from the restrictions of working for the children’s press, authors could now aim their work at a mature audience. In Europe, magazines like Pilote and Hara-Kiri were at the vanguard of this new movement. Frenchman Jean-Claude Forest‘s sci-fi heroine ‘Barbarella’ (1962) was the first character that embodied the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

In Belgium, Guy Peellaert had pioneered the comics eroticism with his stories ‘Les Aventures de Jodelle’ (1966) and ‘Pravda, la survireuse’ (1967), while Guido Crepax heralded in the “sexties” in Italy with his ‘Valentina’ (1965). Dutch authors Thé Tjong-Khing and Lo Hartog van Banda released their pop-art inspired graphic novel with the sexy ‘Iris’ in 1968. Cuvelier and Van Hamme’s ‘Epoxy’ fully presented the artist’s qualities for sensual artwork, against a story inspired by Greek mythology. Created in 1967, the album was released by the Paris-based Belgian publisher Eric Losfeld in the revolutionary month of May 1968. It initially didn’t catch much attention, but in later years its historical importance was recognized for being one of the first independent and fully erotic Belgian comics. It has been re-issued in later years by Horus (1977), Marcus (1981), Clue Circle (1985), Éditions Lefrancq (1997) and Le Lombard (2003). German and Scandinavian translations of ‘Epoxy’ were however published without the knowledge and consent of the authors, who consequently never received royalties from these editions.

Paul Cuvelier spent the final years of his life in poverty, and in a constant search of artistic fulfillment. A final attempt to pick up ‘Corentin’ was made in cooperation with Jacques Martin, who wrote the script for ‘Corentin et l’Ogre Rouge’ (1973). Cuvelier abandoned the project after the first pages, which were published posthumously in the monography ‘Paul Cuvelier: Corentin et les chemins du merveilleux’ by Philippe Goddin in 1984. Martin later used the plot for the ‘Alix’ story ‘Les Proies du Volcan’ (1978). Jacques Martin also picked Cuvelier as his first choice to draw his historical comics series about French serial killer Gilles de Rais. Cuvelier was however not interested, and was revived by Martin and Jean Pleyers for the series ‘Xan’ (1978, later renamed to ‘Jhen’). Pleyers was Cuvelier’s pupil during his final years. In an interview in L’Est Républicain in 1993, Pleyers recalled squatting with Paul Cuvelier during most of the 1970s, living in “old embassies, surrounded by homosexual drug addicts”. Another assistant of Cuvelier was the Spanish artist Juan Lopez de Uralde, who helped him with the last pages of ‘Corentin et le Prince des Sables’ in the late 1960s. Paul Cuvelier’s final work included some erotic illustrations for Privé magazine in 1975, and the preparations of an exposition with the theme “Fillettes” (“little girls”). The artist however passed away in 1978 in Charleroi at the age of 54 after years of declining health.The extremely large folio edition by Blue Circle is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Shunga …the Japanese erotic print

 

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While studying the Bubb Kuyper catalogue it struck me that the genitals of both male and female are depicted far too large and are highly exaggerated. This made me wonder…is this wishful thinking of the japanese men in general or is it to draw attention to the print and the action within. I found an excellent article on Shunga…. The art of the erotic japanese prints by the British Museum and they have a clear point of view:

The genitals of both sexes are so exaggerated in shunga that it leaves literally nothing to the imagination. A wall text quotes Tachibana no Narisue, an artist in 1254: “The Old Masters… depict the size of ‘the thing’ far too large… If it were depicted the actual size there would be nothing of interest. For that reason don’t we say that art is fantasy?”.

Despite a similar preoccupation with the humorous side of sex, shunga has a far greater artistic pedigree than seaside postcards. Whereas Thomas Rowlandson is unusual in the British artistic tradition for producing erotic prints, shunga prints were an expected part of Japanese artists’ portfolios.

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Once viewers get past the shock of seeing such explicit scenes, other details begin to emerge – particularly the beautifully rendered robes worn (or, more accurately, half-worn) by the couples. Full nudity appears to be rare, and the gorgeous colours and designs of traditional Japanese costume frame the prints with sensuous folds.

Early versions were hand painted on scrolls, some of which are highly exquisite and expensive. Twelve Erotic Scenes in Edo (circa 1790), by Hosoda Eishi, is particularly beautiful, with gold leaf and gilding used liberally as decoration on both sides of the scroll. 

By 1765, the perfection of full colour woodblock printing methods in Edo made shunga available for the masses, and it was during this period that the conventions of the genre became more firmly established. It was also during this period that the samurai elite began to censor shunga – but for its political, not erotic content. 

Shunga presented a threat to Japan’s strict social hierarchies by depicting sexual congress between different social groups; some books may even have revealed secret court gossip. However, the authorities did not strictly enforce the ban, meaning that shunga flourished under the radar.

It might be easy to dismiss Shunga as a sensationalist exhibition, but the work displayed reveals a fascinating insight into a private world. It’s one both familiar and strange to us.

Sexual life is revealed as loving, passionate, comforting, rough, illicit – even violent at times. Despite existing in a fantasy world, shunga artists manage to reveal a great deal about our common humanity.

www.ftn-books.com has a book on the modern Shunga experience available.

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Nobuyoshi Araki (1940)

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Araki has published over 400 books. He is known primarily for his photography that blends eroticism and bondage in a fine art context. But where he first was a rather obscure photographer who dared to photograph his subjects in “forbidden” poses and where his publications were originally sold under the counter. His photography has become mainstream, partly due to his dutch representatives of Reflex gallery and certainly by Benedikt TAschen who published several titles on Araki , including to super large sized ARAKI special publication in 2002.

Nobuyoshi Araki is known best for his intimate, snapshot- style images sensual flowers and of women often tied up with ropes (a kinky japanese art called Kinbaku). ( some of them availabel at Reflex galery / Amsterdam).The magnitude of  Araki’s work is difficult to wrap your head around. Araki is an artist who reacts strongly to his emotions and uses photography to experience them more intensely. His work is at once shocking and mysteriously tender with a burst of power. But one thing strikes me about most of his photographs (besides the obvious nudity) is the relationship between him and the one he captures, the intimacy, the trust and the surrender. Araki is Helmut Newton on drugs but more amplified. He is not afraid of his emotions nor of showing them to the world. He is truly an exceptionally deep and emotional artist. In 1970 he created his famous Xeroxed Photo Albums, which he produced in limited editions and sent to friends, art critics and even people he selected randomly from his local telephone book.  Araki has published over 400 books of his work. Including ARAKI, a super large publication, $4000.00 book of beauty.

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About this publication said “this book reveals everything about me. it’s been a 60-year contract. Photography is love and death- that’ll be my epitaph” – Araki

But you do not have to spent as much as 4k USD. There are excellent Araki publications for far less money available at www.ftn-books.com

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Sixties magazines TIQ versus PLEXUS

The sixties were the years of my teens. And with these years belong some dutch fan music magazines . There was Muziek Express and Tuney Tunes for the young fans, For the somewhat older teens there was HITWEEK( Which later became Aloha)

and then there was finally TIQ…. a a magazine focussing on art, music, fashion, photography and ….”sex”  making this a true Dutch Pop Art magazine .It was a groundbreaking magazine , years ahead of its time. Published as a glossy magazine , but with a contents that was solely focussing on the teens and twens from the sixties.

Unfortunately it was not popular and only 14 of these magazines were published in 1966 and 1967. It disappeared much to soon from the market ,leaving the youth only Hitweek, but in France it was totally different. Of course there were BD’s ( Bandes Dessinees/ Comics) with Pilote as the leading magazine. But is focusses on the very youthful , this was recognized by L.D. publisher who wanted something different and then there suddenly was PLEXUS. No glamour photography but artful photographs by renowned photographers. Paintings by Labisse and Leonor Fini . Painters and artists who did not look away from nudity. Nudity, erotic art, erotic cartoons and short stories were the main ingredienst. Focussing with this contents on a youthful audience. In France this was the equivalent for the TIQ magazine in the Netherlands. A pop Art magazine with only 40 volumes in its publication years. Both nostalgic collectables of which there are now 3 volumes available at www.ftn-books.com

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