Forbidden Art of the Past [Top 10]

What did erotomaniacs do when there was no Playboy? Great artists painted depraved and beautiful pictures for them.

Konstantin Somov

Forbidden Art of the Past

Konstantin Somov is known not only for his beautiful oil paintings and theatrical scenery, but also for his scandalous collection of erotic prints The Book of the Marquise (Le livre de la Marquise).

The Little Marquise was published in Germany in 1907 (8 illustrations), the Medium – in St. Petersburg in 1918 (24 illustrations). The Grand Marquise (31 illustrations) appeared “between worlds”. The title page indicates a Venetian printing house, but in fact the book was published in St. Petersburg underground. The name of the made-up printing house was invented by the artist himself – Chez Cazzo et Coglioni (a crude name for genitalia in Italian).

Gustave Courbet

Forbidden Art of the Past

The author of the most famous vagina in the history of art – it sounds strange, but there is no other way to say it. In Courbet’s The Origin of the World, the genitals are painted in great detail. In addition to its eroticism, the painting points to the double importance of the female vagina. In fact, it is the first place from which man sees the world.
Because of its excessive frankness, the painting was not shown to the public for more than a century. Even today, when it’s taken

Forbidden Art of the Past

Because of its excessive frankness, the painting has not been shown to the public for more than a century. Even today, when the public view of art has become more liberal, at the MusĂ©e d’Orsay in Paris there is always a guard standing by the painting to monitor the public’s reaction. We are sure: if the clerk is allowed to take pictures, he has a whole collection of surprised faces of visitors in his phone.

Gerda Wegener

Forbidden Art of the Past

Einar Wegener became the first man in the history of mankind to have a sex change. The operation was performed in Germany, where the Wegener couple moved precisely for the purpose of finding a good surgeon.
Gerda, the author of erotic pictures, was born into a priest’s family (March 15, 1886) She studied at the Copa
Gerda, the author of erotic pictures, was born into a clergy family (March 15, 1886). She studied in Copenhagen at the Royal Academy of Arts, where she met her future husband.

Over time, her husband stopped drawing completely, considering Gerda to be more talented. When her passion for cross-dressing became apparent, Einar Wegener even began to go out to guests in women’s clothing, and he called his wife his sister.

Katsushika Hokusai

Forbidden Art of the Past

Katsushika is the most famous master of Japanese prints in the West.
Critics attribute the emergence and popularity of erotic prints in Japan to various factors: the life of geishas, the era of the samurai, the sexual reflections of society.

The Japanese themselves have a simple explanation: Asians in principle have a different attitude to the flesh – both to love and to violence. This is why Japanese and Chinese films often feature the aestheticization of murder.
In all of Katsushika Hokusai’s erotic prints there is a great deal of allegory.

Franz von Bayros

Forbidden Art of the Past

The Marquis von Bayros made his living through illustrations, exposing not so much bodies as secret fantasies, and, despite the indignation of the authorities, he laid on the censors what he was supposed to lay on such occasions – and in the nude.
Byros worked in the Art Nouveau era and was known on a par with his colleagues Beardsley and Rops.

Nikolay Kalmakov

Forbidden Art of the Past

Kalmakov was born into the family of a Russian military emigrant in Italy, and always balanced between Europe and Russia.

Forbidden Art of the Past

Being a man of modest and even complex, Kalmakov poured his secret fantasies into his canvases. As it should be a Russian modernist, the artist wove together the canons of Art Nouveau and folklore, but added to it much, much eroticism and a bit of S&M motifs.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Forbidden Art of the Past

Toulouse-Lautrec, who had acquired an appearance defect as a teenager (his legs had stopped growing due to fractures in his femoral neck), often heard the phrase from women: “You will always be my best friend. Nothing more was promised to the artist by the beauties. At the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec surrounded himself with vicious beauty: he painted dancers who, because of male neglect, either played stale lecheresses or sought affection in each other’s arms.

Kitagawa Utamaro

Forbidden Art of the Past

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) was a master of classical Japanese prints, many of whose works illustrated the alluring beauty of geishas.
The titles of the erotic works were also telling. Here, for example, is the work below, “Prelude to the Fulfillment of Desire.” It speaks to the fact that for men sex is not just sex, but the fulfillment of the hunter’s instinct, the craving for pleasure, and the desire to possess something that not everyone can afford.

Lindsay Norman

Forbidden Art of the Past

An Australian painter, sculptor, caricaturist, writer and boxer.
The heroes of his paintings are lustful beauties and their goatish seducers (Norman was a pagan, which made him doubly disliked by the church).

Egon Schiele

Forbidden Art of the Past

Schiele is an erotomaniac, a pervert, a talent, a singer of decadence. His paintings are not so much about eroticism as they are about psychology and the reasons that push people into destructive, devastating relationships. They are not so much about naked bodies as they are about naked nerves and situations that people push themselves into.


There has always been sex, although, as the writer Stephen King joked, every teenager, after his first experience, seems to think that he is the one who invented it. Consequently, artists have always turned to this theme.
Provocation, mystery, and attention to forbidden subjects are what often turn a craftsman into an artist. After all, art is essentially a tool for exploring and improving the world, including ridding it of prejudice and stiffness.
In fact, many artists have done in graphics and painting what Alfred Kinsey did in psychology many decades later – explored human sexuality, touching on cultural and moral values. And these are strange but necessary works in the history of painting. Still, it is hard to argue that a world without sexual neuroses is a much more pleasant place than with them.