What are the most provocative pieces of art ever?

What are the most provocative pieces of art ever?

Ecstacy of St Theresa. Bernini, 1652.

Bernini captured in marble the inescapably erotic nature of St Theresa of Avila’s spiritual encounter. Read her account and see what you think: ‘He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.’

Now look again at the sculpture. The direction of the spear. The curled toes. His sweetly sadistic smile, as he goes to lift her disheveled robes. Her yielding posture. Her comeface. As noted in the wiki:

‘there were many details about the experience that she never specifies (e.g., the position of her body) and that Bernini simply supplied from his own artistic imagination, all with an aim of increasing the nearly transgressively sensual charge of the episode: "Certainly no other artist, in rendering the scene before of after Bernini dared as much in transforming the saint's appearance."’

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an orgasm depicted so well in any medium. I have trouble seeing how it fits with the creed of a faith that celebrates celibacy, but hey, smarter people than me have tried and failed to make sense of catholicism.

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William Bryce Lohman
William Bryce Lohman
Mar 20