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Italy’s erotic revolution in art joined the lusty to the divine

In the Sistine Chapel, you look up at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and see muscular angels hurtling through space, nude or with just a scrap of cloth tight across their buttocks. Then after leaving the Vatican, you browse a bookstall and find an illustrated sex manual, designed by another great artist, where your eye is drawn to the same figure driven by a different impulse (Figure 2).

Fig 2. Unknown artist’s copy of Marcantonio Raimondi’s I Modi, ‘Toscanini volume’, c1555. Private collection, Milan

Explaining this extraordinary resemblance inspired me to write Eros Visible: Art, Sexuality and Antiquity in Renaissance Italy (2017). On the book jacket (Figure 3), another of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel nudes strikes a provocative pose and swivels his eye to meet yours, as if to say: What do you make of this? The answer is that a little-recognised ‘erotic revolution’ swept through Italy between 1500 and the post-1550 Counter-Reformation.

Fig 3. Sistine Chapel detail from book jacket, Eros Visible by James Grantham Turner

Of course, some pictures were condemned as erotic even before 1500: Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery moral reformer of the 1490s, ordered his followers to toss them onto the ‘bonfire of vanities’. But broadly speaking, during the Middle Ages, depiction of sexual activities was confined to the low, comic or grotesque style, while nudity was extremely rare in high art (except in scenes of Hell), and figures tended to be slender rather than voluptuously rounded. Classical nude sculptures were sometimes destroyed or branded as the devil’s work. Courtly love was exalted, but lust and libido were condemned. Erotic feeling was most vividly expressed in mystic accounts of the ‘bridegroom’ Christ and his ‘bride’ the human soul.

The beauty of classical art was more highly valued in the early Renaissance (the 15th century), as was the love-theory of Plato. However, this led to an even deeper split between the pure ideal and base reality, between sacred and profane love. Neoplatonism polarised the celestial and the earthly Venus, and insisted that bodily experience must be expunged from true love. Beautiful figures in art were still mostly draped, and rare exceptions such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus were kept for private viewing and interpreted as strictly celestial. The questioning and collapse of these rigid distinctions is the erotic revolution.

Like most revolutions, this one was hardly total. It differed from the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s in that it didn’t change social history, and no new contraceptive device liberated women from the endless cycle of marriage or prostitution. A more accurate phrase would be ‘erotic-aesthetic revolution’, radically changing the way that Italians conceived, created and thought about art. Great changes happened in the art world, which included the emergence of powerful patronesses, even though female artists and models were few. Passion and amore were valued as the wellsprings of creativity – not a distraction or pollution. Channels opened up between inspiration and arousal, between sacred and profane, between what is now separated into ‘art’ and ‘pornography’. Artists felt licensed to express all the passions and ‘motions of the soul’, not merely the chaste ones. Critics endorsed this by praising works that cause ‘whoever gazes’ to feel ‘an amorous fire/in their heart and their gestures’. Beauty was discovered in earthly as well as celestial love. Erotic response became the guarantee of the ‘living’ quality now most valued in art.

One way I measure this revolutionary change is by tracking key words such as lust or lascivious in writings about love and art. Philosophers of the Platonic school worshipped the celestial Venus – ‘chaste, orderly, superior, divine and spiritual’ – but denounced the lower, corporeal Venus as the root of all evil, ‘inferior, disorderly, variable, lascivious, animal, obscene’. Savonarola insisted on burning all ‘lascivious pictures’ (pitture lascive). Yet within an amazingly short time, lascivia was used without disapproval.

The writer Pietro Aretino justifies the Renaissance sex manual (Figure 2) by arguing that poets and artists have always amused themselves by making cose lascive, ‘lascivious things’. The patroness Isabella d’Este enjoyed art that was lascivo ma honesto, ‘lascivious but honourable’. In turn, artists were encouraged to bring out the ‘lascivious’ in their subject matter and in their sensuous brushwork, capturing the ‘living flesh’ and the excitement of falling in love. A wonderful description of Titian’s Venus and Adonis (Figure 4) praises the bisexual ‘mixture’ of masculine and feminine beauty in the ‘lascivious’ Adonis. The same Aretino promises the powerful ruler of Mantua a statue of Venus so ‘alive’ that it will ‘fill every viewer’s mind with libido’.

Fig 4. Venus and Adonis, Titian, 1554. Museo del Prado, Madrid. Courtesy Wikimedia

Leonardo da Vinci boasts that one of his religious paintings provoked ‘lust [libidine] in the owner’. For Leonardo, this is not a matter of shame but of pride in the superior power of painting, which ‘moves the senses more readily than poetry does’, and ‘depicts libidinous acts so lustful that they have incited viewers to play the same game’. The red-flag words libidinosi, lussuriosi and incitare shed their moralistic overtone. Leonardo in effect denies the fall of Adam and Eve and the shame that makes us hide the genital organ: ‘man is wrong to feel ashamed to name it, much less to display it, always covering and hiding what should be adorned and displayed with due solemnity’. Aretino justifies erotica in the same way:

What’s so bad about seeing a man mount on the back of a lady? So the animals should be freer than us? It would seem to me that the thingy that Nature gave us to preserve herself should be worn round the neck as a pendant, and in the cap as a medal … They should establish Holidays and consecrate Vigils and Festivals for it, not shut it up in a bit of cloth or silk.

Artists went ahead and visualised those ‘festivities’ (Figure 5).

Fig 5. Triumph of the Phallus, Francesco Salviati or follower, c1540. Private collection, Stockholm. Courtesy the author

This might all seem a phallocentric game that only elite males could join. In fact, I have found countercurrents to the alleged repudiation of female sexuality in accounts of the arousing effect of painting and sculpture. In Aretino, the viewer is ‘filled’ with the libido streaming from the Venus statue. Titian’s Venus melts and softens the viewer rather than giving him a hard-on: he ‘feels himself growing warm and tender, and the whole of his blood stirring in his veins’. Certainly the recipient is assumed to be male (the canvas was painted for Philip II of Spain, after all) but face-to-face with Venus’s bottom he is ‘penetrated to the marrow’.

As a final example of the revolution in action, consider another plate from that album of sexual postures, this time a lady mounting a man, a 19th-century reconstruction based on a tracing from a now-lost engraving (Figure 6).

Fig 6. Detail from Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck’s reconstruction of I Modi, c1850. Courtesy British Museum, London

The posture comes from one of those ‘lascivious things’ that amused the ancient Romans, but the modern Roman artist made a scene of it: Aretino, who wrote sonnets on the whole set of positions, imagines the man yelling: ‘Cupid, you little fuck, stop pulling the cart!’ This ‘lascivious’ print then inspired one of the most entrancing images of the High Renaissance: Parmigianino’s love-god carving himself a new bow (Figure 7). Parmigianino’s Eros/Amor turns to lock eyes with us, and his implicit question is still: What do you make of this, do you like what you see?

Fig 7. Detail from Parmigianino’s Amor (or Cupid Fashioning his Bow), c1530. Courtesy Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

At first, the answer was No. The art historian Giorgio Vasari, who celebrated the erotic art of his day, later condemned that posture manual as ‘ugly’, though without having seen it. The Counter-Reformation that started with the 1545 Council of Trent aimed to stamp out the sensuous and ‘lascivious’ elements that had allegedly contaminated religious art – especially Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. But reactions generate counterreactions so that, over the centuries, the lush sensuality of the High Renaissance has been celebrated, deplored and celebrated again repeatedly. Even now, after that other sexual ‘revolution’ of the 1960s, historians swing between a cerebral, idealising, Platonic approach and a deliberate campaign to put the body back into art, to value the erotic experience (of both sexes) and to question the division between ‘art’ and ‘pornography’.

James Grantham Turner

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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I Do Not Like Car Parks

I would not regularly be discovered dead in an underground vehicle stop. Such a large number of individuals I knew had been discovered dead in underground vehicle parks. It is a word related danger for individuals in a large number of occupations. What’s more, from being a young fellow straight out of school, it had been my parcel that those were actually the sort of occupations that I would in general be enticed or constrained into. Simply good fortunes I presume.

Be that as it may, it is similar to they say in the MasterCard adverts. Paying to have somebody shot to death in an underground vehicle stop? Five thousand euros. Seeing it coming so it doesn’t transpire? Invaluable.

The issue with working in probably the most well known and breathtaking places of interest in the Mediterranean is that – by definition – they are occupied and brimming with decent cars. So vehicle parks are required. And if you are working with Ibiza escorts you cannot work without a car as you need to go from one place to the next fast. What’s more, underground is the main place that they can be. Also, in the event that I have a circumstance where a driver isn’t reasonable, vehicle parks are basically unavoidable.

It is somewhat similar to swimming in decent warm oceans. The decisions may be among swimming and suffocating, however regardless you have to watch out for sharks.

Be that as it may, ashore, the sharks look somewhat changed and move a little slower. Be that as it may, I am glad to state, they are likewise a damn site progressively unsurprising.

I strolled down from Plaza Antonio Banderas into the vehicle stop by the staircase farthest from my vehicle and furthermore from the gathering I had been visiting. The better to look at things. They say that it isn’t suspicion when individuals truly are out to get you. What’s more, for a wide range of reasons that will turn out to be clear later, I am not neurotic. I am simply cautious.

Remaining alive when individuals really are out to get you can either be down to fortunes or being cautious and indicating decision making ability. Speculation which I incline toward? There is a familiar axiom which is completely ideal for all that it is a buzzword. Remaining alive whern individuals need to execute you relies upon practical insight. Trustworthiness is the aftereffect of experience. Experience is frequently the aftereffect of terrible judgment.

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A Day Running Escort Agencies

Most days are equivalent to some other day – you get up, practice wash and dress and leave for work. Perhaps get some morning meal in transit. Different days you get up, exercise, wash and dress and leave for work and take off for breakfast. In any case, at that point you find that while in transit to one of the eateries you use – blend it up as propensities can be destructive – you end up being trailed by a couple of folks driving a yellow Hummer H2. That is to say, truly, for screws purpose, who attempts to tail somebody in yellow vehicle, not to mention a screwing Hummer.

As it happens I am pretty observation mindful consistently in any case. In any case, a visually impaired folks hound will see a three ton banana tailing them without leaving a space. On the off chance that you are in the matter of running escort offices and speaking to the best escort Cheshire has to offer you generally need to keep an eye open. In any case, an enormous rough terrain military vehicle painted banana yellow is truly cursed hard to miss in your back view reflect. Actually, it fills your mirror so that not exclusively can you not miss it, it is difficult to seen whatever else. It sort of emerges.

Indeed, even in some place like Knutsford in August where the roads are loaded up with mirror complete Lambos and metallic purple Rolls Royces. Aside from Prince, who could escape with it, who the damnation would do that to a Rolls Royce? Also, the vehicles are loaded up with conceited looking folks and their Knutsford escorts who are both dressing and getting a charge out of the people watching them.

Indeed, even there, the banana stodd out like, well, a three ton banana.

They had lifted me up as I fell off the principle A556 expressway toward Knutsford and onto the labyrinth of roundabouts that make the place a bad dream to tail somebody except if you are great, relaxed and working with a group of no less than three vehicles to continue exchanging. Toss in an infrequent stop and occupation done. That will flush ninety per cent of observation. Except if they are great.

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A Few Clients Have More Cash Than Sense

A few clients of sex laborers may pay for extravagance breaks and occasions, or pay for enormous introduces and burn through cash just as it had no genuine significance. These customers believe that they can inspire a sex specialist with their cash and they endeavor to utilize their cash to induce whores to treat them betterly. Actually the dominant part of prostitutes love picking up a rich and liberal customer, and yet they will likewise have less regard for a client who does not know the estimation of their cash. That is particularly obvious in light of the fact that prostitutes buckle down to procure their cash and can dislike it when men burn through cash without considering.

There is an old English articulation which says in regards to individuals “they have more cash than sense”. It is regularly expected to identify with the sort of individual who purchases things that they don’t have any genuine requirement for. Sound frameworks, garments, sports autos, occasions, sports gear. I am certain that you know the sort of man that I am portraying. This sort of conduct is as pertinent to sex in the very same path as it does to toy and things. All high-class whores will have the capacity to effortlessly discuss the way that a few clients have more cash than sense.

Each high class prostitute comprehends that she merits whatever any client pays her for her sexual administrations, camaraderie and time. A decent Tenerife escort girl can likewise completely welcome that a few clients don’t comprehend the estimation of the cash that they are spending. A few clients of escort offices pamper prostitutes with over the top blessings with the expectation that those things will convince her into treating them superior to typical customers. That may mean giving them additional time or into offering sexual administrations that they may not ordinarily offer – rimming, butt-centric sex, oral sex without a condom or possibly discharging in her mouth. Or on the other hand those customers may trust that they will receive time with their most loved escort gratis as an end-result of the cash that they have spent on endowments.

A few clients of sex laborers may pay for extravagance breaks and occasions, or pay for enormous introduces and burn through cash just as it had no genuine significance. These customers believe that they can inspire a sex specialist with their cash and they endeavor to utilize their cash to induce whores to treat them betterly. Actually the dominant part of prostitutes love picking up a rich and liberal customer, and yet they will likewise have less regard for a client who does not know the estimation of their cash. That is particularly obvious in light of the fact that prostitutes buckle down to procure their cash and can dislike it when men burn through cash without considering.

A few clients of escort offices spend a considerable measure of cash for their attractive time with wonderful escorts, and the smart customers know that in the event that they don’t fare thee well, they will incorporate up troubles with what’s to come. Whores with no heart will continue booking sessions with those customers rall the best approach to where the money runs out and the and charge cards never again work. In any case, the most expert escort ladies will quit meeting a customer who can never again bear to meet with them. Sex experts may engage in sexual relations with men for cash, yet that does not imply that are terrible individuals. Great escorts would prefer not to be the reason for monetary issues to wreck the life of a man that they have been paid to engage in sexual relations with.

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Why Do Married Men See Escorts?

A famous rock star was once asked why rock stars date models and his three word answer was the model of accuracy and brevity. He simply said that rock stars date models because they can. And the same is true when you ask why married men see escorts; because they can. But allow me to explain a little more fully below. If you have read this far then you deserve a decent answer to a very old question.

Some males are – to be perfectly honest – entitled ass holes. There is no more polite way to say it. This type of male is incapable of being loyal and faithful to a female, even if they were married to a sex crazed super model who needed vigorous sex four times a day. Men such as that would still pay to see a woman who has sex with men for money. Even if they are having sex with the sexiest high class escorts London has to offer, this type of man always wants more and different, more and different, more and different. And they are always happy to go after more and different and pay for it financially. Males such as these do not care about their wives or female colleagues, no matter how new or old the relationship. These men only care about what kind of sex they want and their need to have it.

Other types of males think that their whole lives are about doing things for other people, and that they get little or no thanks for it and are not appreciated. They even think that they get shit from their woman for the many hours that they work to provide for their woman or how exhausted they are as a result. So those men see spending money for sex with an escort girl as their reward to themselves. To be honest, the majority of escorts will regard these clients as being in the same category as the first set of customers, but that they are less honest with themselves. These men are still being selfish but they present their selfishness as actually being a victim instead of admitting that they are actually self obsessed and care only for themselves.

There is a third group of males that see escort girl regard as being a little sad. That is the type of man that is ignored and belittled by the women in their lives. Often their woman does not take any care of her appearance and the gentleman is not attracted to them anymore.

In these circumstances the women very frequently have stopped having sex or even showing their male any attention or affection after they have married them. You can often see the sadness in the eyes of these men. Often these men just cuddle an escort girl instead of having sex and simply cry because they really just want to receive the same affection from the woman that they live with. Males are just as insecure as females about their attractiveness and how desirable they are.

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Young People And The Word “No”

I read an article this week that made me feel beyond deeply depressed and fearful for our young people. As a professional in the sex industry I have absolutely no issues with sex. Have it, do not have it. Do it this way, that way or the other. Men and women, women and women, men and men. Two at a time, threesomes, moresomes. Who cares as long as all concerned are over the legal age of consent and actually give their consent? I do not care whether the sex is free, or paid for. You can be an amateur or a professional sex workers and I will not care. But I do have a simple rule. It is not enough that no means no. More importantly, yes means yes.

In a recent survey by the Family Planning Association in England found that fifty three per cent of people that were surveyed thought that it was unacceptable for someone to change their mind about having sex and say “no” once their clothes had come off. Even more worrying and disturbing is the finding that sixty one per cent of those aged between fourteen and seventeen years of age agreed with this view. Thank about that for a moment. Sixty one per cent of youg people in England think that once a girl (or boy) is naked that they are obliged to have sex and no longer have the right to say no. Jesus, people. Even the sexiest mature escorts London can supply have the right to withdraw their sexual consent and say no if they are with a client and do not want to follow through for whatever reason. Of course, the client will quite justifiably want their money back, but even for professional sex workers no means no.

I have always thought that “no means no” is the wrong message anyway. It would be much better to work to the rule that “yes means yes”. Not refusing something is not the same as directly requesting it. If I say say “yes, I really want a vodka” that is a request. If you offer me a vodka and I do not say anything that does not mean that I am going to drink it with relish. The same with sex. If I say “stick your cock in me now and fuck me hard until I come” that is what I call consent. If I do not say anything, that is not consent, it is just not saying anything. Not the same thing at all.

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The G Spot Myth

There are a good many sex myths that keep being brought up and taught to people. Some of them are just too weird to be thought of as true – no man has ever grow hairs on the palm of his hands from wanking too much and no woman’s womb has shriveled because she stroked herself to orgasm. And I am pretty sure that even the “Shameless” type tossers living on sink estates do not believe that you cannot get pregnant if you have sex at night because the sperm go to sleep.

Having said all that, there are still plenty of weird things that people do believe such as the idea that you can not get pregnant if you are on your period or that any man who likes his anus and prostate played with is gay. Let us face it – most people are pretty much clueless about sex. And I speak as a bit of an expert, having been one of the busiest escorts Manchester has known for years. I have known lots of men who thought that the clitoris was a myth along with unicorns, for example. Having said that, while having sex with those men orgasms were about as rare as unicorns so that seems pretty legit really.

Anyway, one of my favourite bits of sex related bullshit – while we are on the subject of the clitoris and female orgasm has brought scientsists to conclude that there is, in fact, no “magic button” that will have a woman screaming in ecstasy every time that you touch it. Basically, having you vagine played with at the same time as your clitoris is very pleasant for most women, as is having a guy take his time down there. But if you need clitoral stimulation, then just vaginal work with anything in any way is not going to get the job done. And if you are one of those women who pops one off just from vaginal stimulation then the front wall of your vagina is as good a place to focus o as any to get the job done!

So, guys, back off a little and do not stress so much about finding the ignition button. Think of instead as exploration instead of just starting a car!

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Staying Safe On Holiday Is No Longer Just About Condoms

Hunting for a good break, there is always Morocco, which is still a lovely destination but it has never really leant itself to either family holidays or beach based fun. The south of France? Too many Parisiennes. Italy? Lovely but the beaches are totally unavailable to non Italians as the beaches are all private and scheduled up months or even years ahead. Turn up on the beach at Viareggio and try to get a sunbed? Prepare yourself for a sardonic look and a mocking laugh!

Turkey is basically a war zone. No, that is not true. Turkey is a war zone, there is no basically about it. Kurdish terrorists, ISIL, a rebellious army, and a government that is leaning further to the fascist end of the scale by the day. So bad that the army tried to take over because they are more left wing than the current Premier.

Egypt is at least as bad as Turkey, but with the added benefit and attraction of Islamic fundamentalism embedded in the government. As for Algeria and Tunisia, well people are being murdered on the beaches. So that hardly makes them as appealing for fun in the sun, does it?

The whole of Greece is disorderly and is economically wrecked. Even presently there certainly is a great likelihood Georginathat supposing that you place a cash card in a cash machine you might possibly not receive it back again. By the same token, can any person really know that a place so destitute would not choose to rifle through your baggage in the passport check and determine that your cash in hand is in fact now their property? For that matter, in the event that the nation is so economically poor that one may have such thought and feelings, how properly serviced are the airport terminals likely to be really?

Visitors to Marbella get access to the benefits that Spain can bring; an open attitude to sex and laws that make it perfectly legal to buy or sell sex. Which means that Marbella escorts can work and operate in total impunity. It may sound a little extreme, but when a woman wanted to walk down the road with a sandwich board advertising her wares and services the police would have no issue with it; unless she caused any traffic accidents of course. So a holiday maker in Marbella is free to safely explore their sexuality and seek relaxation with the most stunning escorts Marbella has to tempt them. Which has got to be a lot more appealing than ducking and weaving from the onslaught of angry terrorists rather than ducking and weaving to avoid the lures of hordes of sexy women.

Whenever a man is seeking a chance to relax in the sunlight, well then eventually they are undoubtedly likely to identify your ideas and Yahoo going to checking out Puerto Banus. And with all of the developments which have been actually transpiring around the planet currently, more or less every one of the different locations which may perhaps have attracted one to these have actually turned out decidedly less appetizing. Right now there is so very much unrest on the planet that any sort of vacationer will have to ponder on it whenever scheduling a getaway.