Monday, December 22, 2008


No, contemporary art is not pornographic per se, it is only very willingly and complacently provocative in a manner than even the Cubists and the Surrealists were not.

And any artist or art amateur knows that the best way to be provocative and to draw attention -especially if you are talented, innovative and original- is to make your works border on pornography. He who can the most can the least. And if pornography is the picture which is being 'too close' whilst erotica is the picture which is 'leaving room for the imagination', then Jeff Koons' painting on the right is pornographic.

The "Red Butt" of the series Made in Heaven by Jeff Koons shows him in close action with his then wife Anna Ilona Staller also known as La Cicciolina. (the most intimate details were censored by me). Hungarian-born Italian porn-star, Staller married Koons in 1991 and left him two years later. A son was born of their short union in 1992 and in 2008 Staller filed suit against Koons for failing to pay child support. When you think that he is one of the richest painters in the world, it leaves you thinking....

Anyway, this artistico-pornographic picture - that will probably never hang in a museum -and was certainly not shown at any Koons retrospective- is a 90x60 in. silkscreen made in 1991 and is # one of an edition of one plus one artist's proof which no longer exists. In 2003, Christie's sold one of them for $369,000 after a bidding war involving 9 bidders. In May 2005, the same auction house sold it again for $520,000 . I do not know if Contemporary art is pornographic but I am sure it can be and that it sells very well.

Of course like some critic you can always justify pornography in the Art by writing something like : "Instead of a porno show, the effect is like that of Japanese erotic prints, where the degree of stylization is so exaggerated that the sexual acrobatics as such are quickly submerged in an all-engulfing artifice." (Robert Rosenblum in The Jeff Koons Handbook, Rizzoli, London, 1992, p.25). But you will fool nobody for yourself, not even the fools who bought it for what it is : a pornographic picture made by a very talented artist.

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