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University of Minnesota Press
Sex Objects: Art And The Dialectics Of Desire

Sex Objects: Art And The Dialectics Of Desire

by University Of Minnesota PressUniversity Of Minnesota Press


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The declaration that a work of art is “about sex” is often announced to the public as a scandal after which there is nothing else to say about the work or the artist-controversy concludes a conversation when instead it should begin a new one.

Moving beyond debates about pornography and censorship, Jennifer Doyle shows us that sex in art is as diverse as sex in everyday life: exciting, ordinary, emotional, traumatic, embarrassing, funny, even profoundly boring. Sex Objects examines the reception and frequent misunderstanding of highly sexualized images, words, and performances. In chapters on the “boring parts” of Moby-Dick, the scandals that dogged the painter Thomas Eakins, the role of women in Andy Warhol's Factory films, “bad sex” and Tracey Emin's crudely evocative line drawings, and L.A. artist Vaginal Davis's pornographic parodies of Vanessa Beecroft's performances, Sex Objects challenges simplistic readings of sexualized art and instead investigates what such works can tell us about the nature of desire.

In Sex Objects, Doyle offers a creative and original exploration of how and where art and sex connect, arguing that to proclaim a piece of art “about sex” reveals surprisingly little about the work, the artist, or the spectator. Deftly interweaving anecdotal and personal writing with critical, feminist, and queer theory, she reimagines the relationship between sex and art in order to better understand how the two meet-and why it matters.

Jennifer Doyle is associate professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. She is coeditor, with Jonathan Flatley and José Esteban Muñoz, of Pop Out: Queer Warhol.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816645268
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 02/25/2006
Edition description: 1
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
Preface: A Promiscuous Readerxi
Introduction: Kusama's Boatxvii
1Moby-Dick's Boring Parts: Pornography's Allegorical Hothouse1
2Sex, Sodomy, and Scandal: Art and Undress in the Work of Thomas Eakins15
3Tricks of the Trade: Pop Art and the Rhetoric of Prostitution45
4"I Must Be Boring Someone": Women in Warhol's Films71
5The Effect of Intimacy: Tracey Emin's Bad Sex Aesthetics97
6White Sex: Vaginal Davis Does Vanessa Beecroft121

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