Pygmalion was so good at his craft that he even fell in love with his own creation. In the same way, many sculptors have created art that's so realistic and sensual that it's hard not to be allured by it.
Above all types of art, I believe sculptures can be the most imposing of them all. It’s not only the fact that artists are able to create works filled with detail and movement from a rough piece of solid material, but that it seems they had frozen amazing moments in history through their own techniques and styles. Each sculpture tells a story and portrays a character in such a realistic way that the only difference between them and a living thing is that these works of art continue to stand before us centuries after being created. The postures and the expressions of these pieces are so real we can understand why mythic artist Pygmalion fell in love with his own creation.
Bizarre creatures, mighty monsters, men, and women, all come to life through sinuous lines and an artistic dexterity that only a few possess. These artists had the gift of bearing life with a chisel and a block of solid materials. That sensuality they’ve managed to convey wasn’t only exclusive of the mythic Pygmalion, and throughout history, master sculptors have been able to create amazing artworks capable of sparking all our desires and passions. Here are only a few of the many kinky and sensual sculptures that keep alluring many audiences from all over the world.
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa - Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1647-52)
Bernini is probably the artist who created the most erotic and sensual works of art through his unique way of paying attention to the forms and the movements of his sculptures. One of his most controversial and really impressing works is definitely his portrayal of St. Teresa at the precise moment when she was pierced in the heart by an angel, producing a spiritual ecstasy. Of course, many have interpreted this event as an orgasm, and for that reason, many artists have depicted her experiencing this divine frenzy.
L'Abandon - Camille Claudel (1864-1943)
Famously known as Auguste Rodin’s main student, Claudel created amazing sculptures that portray some of the most sensuous moments of the human experience. This particular piece depicts an ancient Indian legend of Sakountala and her tragic love story with a prince. After she has his child, he abandons her, but soon discovers he’s been madly in love with her. Claudel’s work depicts that moment he kneels before her and kisses her to show her all his feelings and passions. It’s been proposed that this sculpture is her response to Rodin’s Kiss, which she helped create and where she expresses her feelings towards the man that didn’t treat her as she wished. Still, even when there’s pain in it, she understood that passion isn’t only happiness and bliss, but also deep and dark feelings.
Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss - Antonio Canova (1787-93)
Canova’s sculpture depicts the mythological scene of Cupid and Psyche when he awakes his lover with the passion of his kiss. The amazing thing about the image is how the artist managed to portray those emotions through delicate figures and tenderness while being extremely erotic, showing the many layers of love and passion. All these emotions are depicted in one single piece of marble, which is quite difficult, taking into account the thin parts and intricate movements of the lovers.
Nymphe et Triton - Jean Goujon (1565-68)
Not precisely a sculpture as we know it, this relief by Jean Goujon portrays an intense and heated amorous scene between Triton, son of Poseidon, and a Nymph, known in Greek mythology as hypersexualized creatures driven by their desires. Though we’re still dealing with a two-dimensional artwork, Goujon managed to create such a detailed scene that it looks as if the lovers were about to come out of the wall.
Woman Bitten by a Snake - Auguste Clésinger (1847)
Let me tell you that no photograph will ever depict the realism of this sculpture. Though it scandalized the attendants of the 1847 Salon exhibition in Paris, this piece now welcomes millions of visitors to the fantastic Musee d'Orsay. As the name indicates, it portrays a woman experiencing excruciating pain after being bitten by a snake. However, what shocked the audience and still entices visitors is how Clésinger depicted her pain in a very suggestive and erotic way.
Eternal Idol - Auguste Rodin (c. 1890-93)
We couldn’t be talking about sculptures without mentioning Auguste Rodin, probably the most famous modern sculptor. However, this time we won’t be talking about his most famous piece. Although it truly shows quite an intense moment, I think it isn’t as sensual and erotic as this one. It’s believed that in preparation for his famous Gates of Hell inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Rodin created hundreds of models, including this sculpture. The name comes from the common nineteenth-century practice in poetry referring to women idols, and thus it could be said that the scene depicts the eternal love and lust for a woman.
Pan Copulating With a Goat - Unknown (c. 1st century A.D.)
Ancient art could be extremely kinky, we know that already, but honestly, this particular piece is for me the most controversial one. It’s well known that in mythology, the god Pan or fauns in general represent the lustful side of humanity, that part ruled by our most primal instincts and drives, and for that reason, it’s no surprise to see such an explicit image of this character. As one of the few artworks that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it has captivated millions throughout history due to the openness with which the artist depicted a steamy scene of what many have considered a reflection of perversity.
Barberini Faun - Unknown (2nd century B.C.)
Finally, our last sculpture is hundreds of years older than the previous one, which also depicts a faun though in a more humanized form, so it’s been more controversial through the passing of time. Discovered during the seventeenth century, it was extremely damaged. It’s believed that Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (who named the sculpture) asked Bernini to restore it, but there’s no actual evidence supporting that. However, the mastery with which it was brought back to life has some similarities with the work of the artist. What has been confirmed is the fact that the restored version is much more sexualized and explicit than the original one, which has only attracted more admirers.
Art, in general, can be the best media to explore our desires and passions through images capable of awakening our deepest drives. However, if you ask me, these artworks prove that sculpture can make a piece more relatable and alluring than any other art form out there.
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