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Sexuality in Art and Music Throughout the Ages

By Heather Kraus May 8, 2011.

Throughout various cultures in ancient times, the human body and making love was  both  admired and encouraged. It was depicted through the mediums of sculptures, ceramics and paintings.

Ivan Vavpotič Erotikon
Ivan Vavpotič Erotikon Wikimedia

Art may be classified in the sensual genre if it gives off a sensual appetite or pleasure. Sensual art can be displayed in paintings, sculptures, literature, songs, etc. One such example is the display of genitals in ancient art. Ancient Greece especially loved the human body and would often build sculptures which clearly showed the male genitals.

Another example comes in the form of books. The Kama Sutra, created in India in the fourth century, is strongly considered to be the most influential manual of sexuality. It was composed as a religious book and contained detailed writings of love making techniques and advice.

When sex is shown through art it becomes not solely the pursuit of physical pleasure but also an adoration of beauty and aesthetics. Through the genre of sensual literature we can find short stories, manuals, poems, and novels. Erotic literature is a specific genre where the subject matter is entirely linked to sex and sexual experiences. They contain very explicit scenes and words, which provoke similar thoughts in the mind and feelings in the body.

When it comes to sensual art we discover not solely bodily enjoyment, like we find in experiencing intercourse, but we also get pleasure through our ears, visually and through our own vivid imaginations.

In modern times when it comes to music, the genre of eroticism, or sex music, has not yet been totally investigated or experimented. Little interesting fact; In other cultures, like in literature, artists have composed music which has embodied spirituality with sexuality.

There are entire sections of literature known as romance novels that usually contain mildly explicit sex scenes. Keep in mind there are novels that contain very graphic sexual content. We see it in movies, television and commercials but its harder to find it in traditional mediums of art like sculpture and paintings.

There is a vast difference between the way sexuality was viewed in the past and the way it is viewed today. In today’s time, despite sex still being a very celebrated part of life, sensual art isn’t highly publicized or appreciated. It hasn’t garnered the respect that other genres have. We see it in movies and sometimes its depicted in commercials, as mentioned above, but its still limited, at least in the United States. Europe tends to be a lot more open.

Though it has gone through multiple ups and downs and prohibitions, sex has continually been seen in art since the existence of man and is still a very essential artistic and human form of expression. No matter what changes/limitations it goes through sensual art is a form of art that will never die because sex will never cease  to be a important part of our lives. 

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