The three-dimensional nature of sculpture offers the artist unique possibilities in creating erotic, lifelike representations. For millenia, artists have been fashioning compelling portrayals of the erotic - from small, handheld objects to monumental sculptures like Michaelangelo's David.
The books chosen below offer a stunning survey of remarkable works of art, selected worldwide, from all time periods since the Paleolithic.
Recommended Books on Erotic Sculpture
The power and eroticism of sculpture, form, volume and space are sensitively explored in this wide-ranging study, which ranges over the history of sculpture from prehistoric times to contemporary art. The Erotic Object features discussions of many famous sculptors, including: Michelangelo Buonaroti, Antonio Canova, Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, Barbara Hepworth and Gianlorenzo Bernini. Many contemporary artists are studied too, including installation and performance artists, and women sculptors such as Alice Aycock, Mary Miss, Rebecca Horn, Nancy Graves, Eva Hesse, Kathe Kollwitz and Judy Chicago. 2007, Crescent Moon Publishing
Tucked away in remote Indian jungles are little-known masterpieces of Hindu architecture. What these temples mean and how they were used are the subjects of Alain Danielou's introduction to these magnificent Shaivite structures. Lifelong Indologist and translator of the Kama Sutra, Danielou gives us a grand tour of these temples by drawing from accounts in ancient texts. In very short segments, he directs us to the temple plan, the architect, erotic representations, the meanings of life, the sanctuary, and other aspects of the temple and its erotic sculpture and symbols. The Hindu Temple is a noteworthy introduction to a spirituality that Danielou claims to be the fountainhead of the all religions. Whether or not true, the art and the power live and still inspire today. 2001, Inner Traditions
Sexually explicit sculptures may be found within a number of medieval churches in France and Spain. This fascinating study examines the origins and purposes of these sculptures, viewing them not as magical fertility symbols, nor even as idols of ancient pre-Christian religions, but as serious works that dealt with the sexual customs and salvation of medieval folk, and thus gave support to the Church's moral teachings. 2000, Routledge
Built in the thirteenth century on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, the sun temple Konarak is one of India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries. This book provides a rich descriptive account of this treasured example of the Orissan style of temple architecture. Placing Konarak in its historical context, Thomas Donaldson proceeds to discuss the architectural and sculptural details of the primary temple and the adjoining shrines. 2003, Oxford University Press
Since humans first began thinking creatively--as opposed to merely procreatively--about sex, men and women have spiced up their love lives with this and that. Every civilization has come up with its own sex objects and sex toys. From rudimentarily fashioned objects to the most exquisite ivory carvings of the Far East, eroticism has found expression in a multitude of different forms, all displayed here. The beauty and craftsmanship of these artistic masterpieces bear striking witness to the powers of generation in every culture throughout history. 2005, New Line Books
The Thinker. The Kiss. Iconic and groundbreaking, Auguste Rodin's works brought sculpture into the 20th century and established a new sculptural freedom that captures the imaginations of artists even today."His art showed a radical absence of decorum," states Lampert in this combined monograph and catalog of a recent exhibit of Auguste Rodin's sculpture and drawings at the Hayward Gallery, London. Generally acknowledged the foremost sculptor of the 19th century, Rodin had enormous influence on all who followed him. 2006, Royal Academy
Strange and sometimes frightening, the self-exposing hag called sheela-na-gig, images of whom are found throughout Ireland and in parts of Britain, is unforgettable. But of what, precisely, are these images? Concannon draws on many disciplines, including history, archetypal psychology, and archaeology, in offering a feminist interpretation of the figures as the goddess of the land's sovereignty. 2004, Collins
Khajuraho starts with an historical primer on the Chandellas who created the temple complex. It ends with a few pages discussing the cultural and historical context in which the temples were built. The middle section of the book, by far the largest part, gives detailed descriptions of each different temple at the Khajuraho site. The gallery starts with exterior shots of the temples, then works its way into details of some of the famous niche carvings -- beautiful stone renderings of everything joyous in life. The progression of pictures gradually eases the Western mind into a non-Western idea of what deserves holy depiction. Early on, we see a standing couple, richly arrayed, graceful and handsome, and obviously happy to be together. Other friezes show communal celebrations, like a parade of musicians. Toward the end of the book, the sculptural scenes become more passionate. Some show single figures in ecstatic dance. Others show couples (or triples, or more) in ecstatic erotism. These works cover the range of sexual contact; coital works span the familiar, the unusual, the athletic, and the frankly improbable. All are sculpted with sensitivity, sometimes with arresting beauty. 1994, Antique Collectors Club Ltd
Elisofon's photos show the general plan of the temple at Konarak, and many of the wonderfully carved details that cover every remaining wall. Some are parables and symbols of a more recognizably religious sort, and some honor other gifts of life, such as music. Many, however portray men and women - sometimes several of each - coupling in every way available to the fertile imaginations of the stonecarvers. Alan Watts wrote the explanatory text around the pictures, showing how the sacred notion of sexuality springs naturally from many facets of Hindu life --praise of the living world; the yogic discipline of using the body to explore the holy; and the communal facts of proper social intercourse. 1971, Thames and Hudson
The World's Greatest Erotic Art of Today Vol 3 showcases an unsurpassable collection of contemporary erotic artworks. Works were selected in an international juried art competition that brought together the mediums of hand-drawn illustration, photography, digital illustration and sculpture by some of the finest artists working with erotic subject matter in the world today. The works are eclectic, humorous, daring, eccentric, passionate and self-expressive. 2009, Erotic Signature Publishing