The human fascination with eroticism has been depicted in various art forms for thousands of years, ranging from the 1st century BC explicit wall paintings at the Suburban Baths in Pompeii, to Mel Ramos' nude female celebrities alongside well-know consumer products. As well as the long-standing tradition of erotic paintings, eroticism is also a common subject in sculpture. In many cultures past and present, phallic sculptures which initially appear to be of an erotic nature are in fact considered symbols of protection or potency. Erotic themes can also be found in ceramic art, with the Ancient Greeks regularly portraying sexual scenes on pottery such as vases and drinking vessels. French illustrators Édouard-Henri Avril and Achille Devéria were amongst the most prominent of erotic artists during the 19th century, depicting higher levels of society engaging in sexual activity, often in public places.
The History of Art is peppered with paintings, drawings and sculptures that made headlines for their controversy. Such works have provoked criticism, been the catalyst to many debates and outraged the public. Art is a vast field of experimentation and artistic scandal is an integral part of the creative process. Check out our review of ten major works that shocked the public and shaped the meaning of the artist's intention.