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Oliva, L. (2010). Art Lust: Desire and the Work of Picasso and Klimt. Psychoanal. Perspect., 7(2):244-258.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 7(2):244-258

Art Lust: Desire and the Work of Picasso and Klimt

Lynne Oliva, M.A., MFT

What do you see when you really take the time to look at a work of erotic art? What occurs in the intersubjective field between viewer and painting, artist and model, viewer and artist? The author examines the impact that deep personal engagement with a specific work of erotic art can generate, deriving from an imaginary dialogue between viewer and artist. The emphasis here is on the potential, intuited, and imagined conversation as it moves from the work's surface to the deepest layers of the artist's and viewer's psyches, requiring a radically subjective perspective. The focus of this particular investigation is on two daring masterpieces of erotic art painted a hundred years ago, in 1907: Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, generally considered to be the most important painting of the 20th century, and Gustav Klimt's Danae. The discussion includes related works from the history of art as well as allusions to aspects of desire, erotic imagination, and psychologically subversive elements past and present. The author presents a highly personal examination of these two canvases, applying the specific methodology elaborated, in the interest of opening up the potential space for deepening the way we think about and relate to erotic art.

A man must not remain indifferent before a work of art that he passes by, negligently casting a glance at it.

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