HAA 63 - The Art of Love: Erotic Painting from Botticelli to Goya

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

Shawon Kinew, Felipe Pereda

Erotic painting holds a central and fascinating role in the construction of early modern art, from the early Quattrocento to Modernity. At its inception, Renaissance erotic art rose out of a culture of humanism, inspired by Latin poetry. It became an elaborate artform for a cultural elite, which was made and collected by an educated audience, both male and female. As Renaissance and Baroque art became increasingly sensual, the art began to address explicitly the desires of predominantly male viewers. Contemporary sources described these innovations as “obscene”, a phenomenon we could connect to the emergence of what is now called ‘pornography,’ a western form of visual culture that developed in this same period. The line dividing these two modes is, of course, thin, problematic and subject to continued debated.


This course will describe and investigate the invention of this modern genre(s) and some of its most important episodes for over three centuries. We will discuss major works of artists such as Botticelli, Bellini, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya, and consider their relation to modern modes of spectatorship.