I was the primary co-author for this book , which focuses on representations of sex from diverse eras and cultures. It includes around 250 works, spanning over 2000 years, including Roman marbles, Indian manuscripts, Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures, Chinese paintings and prints, Japanese woodcuts, 19th century photographs and contemporary video drawn from unique public and private collections from around the world. The book debates the shifting attitudes towards explicit imagery, and questions the lines drawn between art and pornography. The work examines comprehensively the ways in which some of the world’s greatest artists have addressed to subject of sex at different times and in different places; over 70 artists are featured including Bacon, Bourgeois, Carracci, Fragonard, Guercino, Koons, Mapplethorpe, Picasso, Rodin, Schiele, Turner, Utamaro and Warhol. Among other things the work questions the changing social acceptability of visual representations of the sexual act and through this the definitions of ‘acceptability ‘ itself, which for a viewer, are particular to their historical and cultural moments.
The book was published with reference to, and in parallel with, a major international exhibition at the Barbican Gallery, London with the same title. The exhibition presented a powerful sensory experience, which highlighted the relationship between viewer and artwork and provided the historical and cultural framework for visitors to question their own boundaries. The exhibition was enhanced by sound and movement; a sound installation entitled.
'The Voice of Sex' featured readings from erotic texts, such as the 'Kama Sutra','Lolita' and late 18th century books by the Marquis de Sade. The exhibition was co-curated by myself with Martin Kemp, Professor of the History of Art at Oxford University and Joanne Bernstein, Independent Curator and designed by Stanton Williams Architects. A comprehensive programme of events and talks, including a complementary film season, accompanied the exhibition.