Boris Vallejo erotic artI decided recently that I wanted to do a series on erotic art, and realized I’m not really sure what erotic art is. A quick look around the web found this definition:


“Erotic art covers any artistic work that is intended to evoke erotic arousal or that depicts scenes of love-making.”


 That covers a lot of territory. Hell, half of what you see on TV these days might qualify. And what makes it different from plain old porn? Is there a difference? After bouncing all of this around in my poor head for a few days, I’ve concluded that definitions don’t really matter. I don’t want to write a Master’s thesis. I just want to explore a bit.


Conan the Subtle, by Frank Frazetta

Conan the Subtle, by Frank Frazetta

The idea for this came to me when I was putting together the images for my last post. I was talking about erotic paranormal romance, and chose some pieces from one of my favorite scifi/fantasy artists, Boris Vallejo. His style is known for massive, rippling musculature, particularly his illustrations of Conan the Barbarian, but while I appreciate rippling muscles as much as the next person, what I love even more is all of the subtle and not-so-subtle kink. Look at poor Conan in this picture, for instance. Chained up, astride a giant snake. (That falls under the “not so subtle” category.)


Before anyone says, wait, Vallejo isn’t an erotic artist! remember, I said the definition doesn’t matter. This is art. I find it erotic. I suspect other people do, too, seeing how it’s been splashed on the cover of so many books. Sex sells, and all that.


Boris Vallejo artMaybe it’s because my own sexuality tends toward the darker side, but I like the darker themes of his work. The sexuality portrayed isn’t hearts and flowers. It evokes the more primal elements of our drives, hints at the judgments we make on ourselves and how we feel about our own desires. I love this one, with the giant bat winged creature embracing a naked woman, because to me it evokes the overwhelming and often frightening nature of arousal, and her willingness to accept it, even revel in it. She isn’t scared. She’s incredibly vulnerable, but she isn’t being harmed. I have no idea whether that’s what the artist intended, I only know that’s what I see, and I find the image very erotic. Plus, you’ve got to love the giant snake. Gee, Dr. Freud, what do you think that means?


Dream handsThis one makes me think of sexual dreams, or fantasies, in which the identity of your partner isn’t important. It’s the sensations that matter. The fantasies aren’t about another person, about love or relationships, but are purely erotic. I love the ecstatic expression as the woman gives herself over to all those sensations. I see all that desire and sexuality as something dark reaching for her, something that might pull her down and drown her. Not a bad way to go, all things considered…


Another thing I appreciate about Vallejo’s work is its sensuality. I can almost feel the colors and textures on my skin, as though I’m looking at a visual representation of pure sensation.  And then there’s the passion. Every Vallejo piece I’ve ever seen has a certain intensity, as though each emotion and sensation is amplified like a heavy metal guitar. I look at them and think, that’s how I want to experience sex. That’s how I want to experience life. Full blast, dialed up to eleven.

NOTE: Thank you to Doug and Elin for catching my error! The Conan image is actually by Frank Frazetta, whose work is along similar lines. Sorry, Frank!Vallejo-3