Not that I'm running out of artists (and thanks to those readers who've sent me links to their own faves - I promise those artists will eventually make it to this blog), but a couple of weeks ago I decided to see if it might not be worth doing some more thematic shows. I keep running across intriguing images by various artists - not enough to make for much of a show in themselves, but too beautiful to pass by.
So today: the harem. In consideration of the plight of women forced into slavery throughout the world, please don't think I'm endorsing non-consensual, patriarchal slavery as an acceptable social construct. I spit on non-consensual slavery of any kind. Yeah! But since I ran into trouble the other day when someone emailed to let me know that a term I'd used here had racist/colonialist connotations I want to be sure we're all on the same pervy page today: this harem show is dedicated to the beautiful and consensual dreams of slavery that we sadomasochists enjoy - and NOT to the real politics behind any of these images.
Here then, a rich show of a very wide range of harems, in photos and in art. Harems exist in many cultures and have different protocols and traditions. This link to a detailed history of The Ottoman harem offers a fascinating glimpse into how these hidden micro-societies functioned in ancient Turkey.
I begin with two old photos. I don't know if these are actual images (the second one certainly looks quite real) or studio poses. You be the judge.
And now to the beautiful, dreamy artistic visions of harems. Many of these were done by European artists, and some of them had never actually visited a harem but relied on descriptions by others and, of course, their own erotic imaginations. I've also included a couple of Gerome's famous and intensely SM-erotic Roman slave market paintings.
This modern-looking painting is a sensual view of the comfort that harem women found in each others' arms.
And this one's by Picasso.
I'm not familiar enough with Louis Icart to be sure of this, but the following four images seem to depict adventures behind the walls of a harem (and came up in my searches under the term harem). It's it's very difficult to get biographical information on Icart. If you know of any really good sites, please let me know. His work probably deserves its own show.
And now to the inutterably beautiful world of Gerome:
This last one is my favorite by Gerome. It's all in her face.