Sexuality in Art

an exploration of sexuality, feminism, LGBT issues, and other related topics in the contemporary art world.

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Sex as the Medium


A couple of years ago, a New York-based artist began an exhibition where his media was one part paint, one part intercourse. Alexander Esguerra had the idea to allow couples to express their love visually on a canvas. He would set up the heated canvas and provide them with paint and an intimate setting, and leave them alone to… express themselves.

In this article about the exhibition, Esguerra describes the concept behind the coital compositions: it’s all in what you don’t see. The marks, prints, streaks, and splatters left by the passion of the lovers results in an abstract piece of art without the information necessary to ruin it for bigots – awesome! “Sex is basically the great equaliser,” he explains. Without the couples present, the remnants of their lovemaking appear free of race, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The viewer sees sex in its most naked form.

Esguerra’s exhibiton not only resulted in compelling paintings, but in an important statement about the freedom of art. Without creating explicit or pornographic images, but by using sex as an artistic medium, Esguerra proved that sex may be messy, but doesn’t have to be dirty.


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Sarah Annesley: The Intrinsic Sexual Nature of Art



Artists are constantly receiving inspiration from all aspects of their life, and often times not even intentionally. Sexuality is one of those aspects which can very easily subconsciously affect people, and therefore often shows up in artwork or other forms of expression. Sarah Annesley, a BFA student at SUNY New Paltz, says that sex and sexuality are an inherent part of the process for all artists, whether they are aware of it or not.

“A lot of my figures are coupled with writing, and they are usually addressing and emotion connected to an experience or issue I was dealing with at the time. The figures, in this way are self portraits exposing my mental state. A lot of my drawings touch upon how I see my gender or my intimate relationships with other people. At one point in time, I used my figures to explore what the idea of being a woman was, and how I don’t necessarily feel like I fit that mold. I think in a general sense, art is always going to somehow relate to your sex, because it is something that is so intrinsic. Even if your work doesn’t directly deal with sex as a subject matter, you are going to find traces of it in your work.”

Sarah Annesley is a Printmaking BFA at SUNY New Paltz in her senior year. She works primarily with the human figure and some portraiture. She Enjoys using water media in her work as well. More of her work can be viewed on her website.