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Erotic Art . Kronhausen collection ao

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First springday in the Netherlands and a very nice 18 degrees celsius made me clean our terrace with the high pressure cleaner….away wth the green algae and a four hour job. It is like meditation….always the same movement from left to right and my mind thought about the blog i had to make today. What is the subject which always attracts the most readers…yes it still i sex. so i decided to devote the blog to erotic art. All great artist from the middle ages until today always have at one time made their own interpretation of the female body and the act of intercourse. Picasso, Dali, Bellmer, Ernst, Mapplethorpe, Wesselman, Rodin and Ramos…just to name a few. From the mid sixties there were even some collectors who collected erotic art. The most famous ones were the Kronhausens. Their collection travelled the world and made erotic art  more acceptable. Nowadays one is not surprised nor shocked when seeing a highly erotic subject from an artist , but in those days these exhibitions were a first. www.ftn-books.com has some nice books on this subject and other publication throughout the years  prove that the subject is still a very popular one.

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Robert Crumb (1943)

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Robert Crumb, one of the “founders” of the underground comic movement and very important for the evolution of comics. Totally independent , a very personal style and a free spirit in thoughts and subjects, he introduced , sex and drugs into comics.

Robert Crumb was born in Philadelphia in 1943. As a kid, he started drawing homemade comic books, together with his brother Charles, for the amusement of himself and his family. One of the characters he invented back then was Fred the Cat, named after the family’s pet. Eventually, Fred became Fritz the Cat, one of Crumb’s best-known characters.

Crumb left home in 1962, getting a job as a greeting card artist in Cleveland, Ohio. At the same time, he continued his comics, sending one to the public gallery section of Harvey Kurtzman’s Help! Magazine. Encouraged by Kurtzman, Crumb moved to New York to work for Help! Unfortunately, this magazine folded just after Crumb returned from an eight-month stay in Europe. Crumb stayed in New York for a while, making comics trading cards for Topps Gum, among other things, and then returned to Cleveland.

In January 1967, Crumb moved to California, where he did some comics for a magazine called Yarrowstalks. His work was so well received they asked him to do a whole comic book, and soon the first issue of Zap was ready. The publisher however disappeared with all of the original artwork. Crumb, who had not only saved xeroxes of his work, but was already halfway with the next issue of Zap, found Don Donahue and Charles Plymell willing to publish it. And so the material for the second Zap comic was published as Zap #1, after which the older material for the first issue was printed as Zap #0. All of these have become collector’s items.

Zap Comix 1 by R. Crumb

Zap Comix became a success, and soon other artists, like Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso and S. Clay Wilson, started contributing their work. Interest in Crumb’s work resulted in ‘Head Comix’, a collection of his comics published by Viking Press, and a ‘Fritz the Cat’ book by Ballantine. Crumb also contributed to other publications from the underground movement, such as the East Village Other. When animator Ralph Bakshi turned to Crumb to make Fritz the Cat into an animated movie, Crumb eventually agreed, but soon became exhausted with the pressure and left it to his wife, Aline Kominsky, who signed the contract. Crumb hated the film so much that he killed off Fritz once and for all in a strip in The People’s Comics.

The end of Fritz the Cat

In the early 1990s, Robert Crumb and his family moved to France, where they still live today. The creator of unforgettable characters such as Mr. Natural, Mr. Snoid, Angelfood MacSpade and Devil Girl still has a tremendous production, which has been collected in many books. He has worked on a series of comic books with Charles Bukowski in the 1980’s, produced a book on Kafka with David Zaine Mairowitz and also illustrated several issues of Harvey Pekar’s ‘American Splendor’ series. Crumb’s daughter Sophie eventually also turned to comic art.

Crumb is also a talented musician. He plays banjo and mandolin, and has performed with R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders and Eden and John’s East River String Band. He has also illustrated a great many album covers, including ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Big Brother and the Holding Company and the compilation album ‘The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead’.

There are some very nice Crumb titles available at www.ftn-books.com including the rare Point d’Ironie title Flesh and Blood

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Andres Serrano…A History of Sex

At least you can say that he has a completely different approach to his subjects than any other of his colleagues. Most of the time hechoses a highly controversial subject. This differs from sex to the morgue, but most of the time the result is “shocking”.

Taschen made an excellent book titled AMERICA with Serrano and it is one of the books i keep for my own collection. A little search resulted in enough copies for the collector to add this to his or her collection, but there is another one… a much harder to find book which was published with the Groninger Museum exhibition A History of Andres Serrano/ A HISTORY OF SEX in 1997. The design was done by Swip Stolk ( the house designer at that time ) and blown up pictures from the exhibited collection were used as posters in the street. One of them ( a girl peeing in a mans mouth) hit the street , but was removed a couple of days later , because it was a little bit too shocking. Still the result of this publicity campaign was that the Groninger Museum registered a record number of people, who visited this exhibition. The catalogue sold out within a few weeks, with no reprint and has become one of the most searched for catalogues of the Groninger Museum…..and www.ftn-books.com luckily

has one copy available.

The text in the Taschen book on Serrano is :

Even though I consider myself a conceptual artist, I am a traditionalist when it comes to photography. I like to use film and shoot straight. No technical gimmicks or special effects. What you see is what I saw when I looked though the camera. If I’ve dazzled you with lights and colors, it’s because I’ve dazzled you with lights and colors. Ideas are more important than effects. And effects are always better when they’re real. In Lori And Dori, for instance, the conjoined sisters are dressed like fairy tale princesses evoking a dreamy and surreal landscape of the mind. But they’re real. Other times I have to make things look real, even if they’re not. In White Nigger, a man is made Black through make-up, while a child is “hung” with a harness. Ezra Pound once said, “Make it new.” I do. And make it real, too.

The trick is not so much coming up with ideas, as how to make them work. When I first tried to photograph my ejaculations, for instance, I kept shooting and missing. After about eight times of getting back black film I realized that I needed a motor drive on my camera. I would start shooting film before I felt myself coming, and was able to shoot a roll of film in seconds. Invariably, there would be one shot, and one shot only, of my ejaculate. In Vagina Dentata (Vagina with Teeth) the teeth-they were shark’s teeth-kept falling out. I had to keep pushing them in to keep them from coming out. After a while, they stayed in place. When the shoot was over, I tried to get them out, but they were stuck. I then realized that the glue that kept them in place was dried menstrual blood.

–Andres Serrano, Reprinted from an interview with Julie Ault for “America and other Work by Andres Serrano” published by Taschen.

 

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George Grosz ….the artist reporter in the “Interbellum”

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The period between the two World Wars in the 20th century is called the Interbellum. George Grosz lived and worked in those years and reported in print and drawings the daily and night life of the people surrounding him. Brothels, whores, artists, friends….. everybody worth as a subject was drawn or painted by him. These works show daily life on the fringes of society. Rough, sensual and sometimes even ugly, but always fascinating.

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Gallery van Voorst van Beest presented a nice selection of these drawings 2 decades ago and published a beautiful catalogue with it. ( see pictures ), but beside this one there are many more Grosz books to be found at www.ftn-books.com

 

wilfried