Brian Steinhoff’s Collages Are “Porn For the Whole Family” (NSFW)

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Brian Steinhoff amusingly attempts to turn porn rated-G in his series of collages titled Porn For the Whole Family. He trades human flesh for floral patterns, silhouetting the once-bodies with kitsch designs. Now, we see abstracted shapes on top of beds, in the tub, and against countertops. Steinhoff is more conspicuous about some images than others, and will choose to leave in various sex toys with the masked subjects.

This series raises some interesting observations about censorship. How effective is Steinhoff’s censoring? In some of these images, the mixture of patterns and shapes is confusing and hard to decipher. But other times, the artist’s floral designs do little to shield us from what’s really going on in these photos. He’s keeping us from actually seeing the acts, but we still know what’s taking place and have some idea of what that looks like.

This is reminiscent of bleeping out “bad words” from television shows. Sure, it keeps viewers  from hearing these phrases (which they most likely know, anyways), but it doesn’t change the fact that people are cursing and that you can probably guess what they said.

We recently posted the work of Von Brandis, another artist whose project Obscene Interiors reinterprets sexual content. Instead of patterned bodies, silhouettes replace the figures with a vacant, white shape. Where Steinhoff’s handiwork blends in with the photographs, Von Brandis’ erotic activities are in stark contrast to the rest of the image. This makes them differ in application, but also in context. Steinhoff’s use of these kitschy patterns conveys a homey feeling, whereas the other Obscene Interiors removes this association. (Via Flavorwire)

Ramona Zordini’s Eerie, Yet Sensual Photography

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Photographer Ramona Zordini creates images that tastefully and powerfully channel sexuality and eroticism between lovers and oneself. Zordini is interested in both showcasing pairs of naked bodies floating on murky water as they interact with one another and portraits of single bodies as they emerge from whitish liquids. Although Zordini’s sensual photography carries an undeniable sexual energy, they embody an aesthetic that resembles organic textures and lines, as well as a concepts (of love, sex and self-discovery) that are poignant and relatable.

In her recent series, Changing Time III, Zordini creates images of posing nude couples in a variety of positions that imply imitate moments. A man wraps his arms around a woman who curls up, head down, under water. In another photograph, a man with an undercut wraps his arms around his nude partner who faces upwards and appears to be pushing against a confining force. Their legs intertwine and one feels their desperation, their need to cling and hold on to one another. The aesthetic and composition of Changing Time IIIrepresent a clear development from the Italian artist’s previous engagement with the human form as beauty and sculpture, into a more nuanced interest in the body as communication.

Zordini’s earlier works, on the other hand, feature single bodies and complex colors and compositions; these are more intriguing and less straightforward that the couple shots.  In many of these photographs, a single female twists and contorts her body to reveal a breast, hand, or leg above the obscuring smoky surface. (via Hi-Fructose)

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Malika Favre’s Animated Kama Sutra Alphabet

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In 2011, illustrator and graphic designer Mailka Favre was commissioned by Penguin Books to illustrate the new Deluxe Classic Cover of the Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana. Using the first 7 letters she illustrated for the commission as a starting point, Favre decided to develop the full set of the alphabet, resulting in a racy Kama Sutra typeface. After creating the designs, Favre worked with animators to turn her images into actively coital gifs. Inspired by the everyday design and fashion she encounters in London, Favre’s aesthetic is bold and colorful, with clean and simple lines and curves. Favre admits she often wears the colors she uses in her designs, and she’s unsure which design choice influences which. Because her designs are so simple, Favre has to approach her work with a strong concept, something that is elegantly evident in her Kama Sutra alphabet. Each letter of the exhibition is available for purchase as a limited edition of 25 screenprints, numbered and signed by the artist.

Emotional Images On Body Dysmorphia, Weight-Loss Surgery, And Self-Acceptance

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For the artist Maria Raquel Cochez, her body is both her subject and medium; choosing to undergo and photograph 3 weight-loss surgery procedures, she catalogs a complex relationship with body image. For this series, titled “Life Performance,” and subsequent videos, paintings, and photographs, the artist courageously addresses the difficult ways in which women are expected to conform to physical ideals.

For “Life Performance,” Cochez relinquishes all control, surrendering both her body and her camera, leaving others to cut, transform, and document her as she undergoes a breast reconstruction and implant and gastric bypass. Each photograph poignantly blurs the line between performance and experience, boldly welcoming the public into a profoundly private emotional space.

Four years after “Life Performance,” Cochez presents “Belly,” a gorgeous video capturing the effects of surgery and life on her midsection. Seen floating in a full bathtub, her excess flesh is seen as touchingly soft yet powerful; isolated from the rest of her body, it seems to breathe independently, rising from the water and sinking back again. On the righthand side of the frame, a child plays with the female belly, innocently exploring the space that gave him life. He kneads it like bread, then strokes it carefully.

The work is painfully moving for the artist’s total surrender to her craft and audience; as viewers, we bear witness to her insides, to folds of her naked skin. For this reason, her impressive body of work seem less like an exploitation of the self than a miraculously intimate confessional. Despite their potentially painful content, her creations are strangely warm and generous; for example, in Life Performance No.1, romantic black and white images of her smiling face and her soft backside gently bookend the frighteningly colorful photographs of her surgery.

Ultimately, the work reads as a richly nuanced love letter to the human body, one to which all humans, regardless of experience, can relate. Take a look at Cochez’s paintings, videos, and photographs after the jump, including her uncomfortably, painfully seductive self-portraits of eating binges.

Disturbingly Erotic Paintings Capture Growing Up And Innocence Lost

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For her frightening and beautiful portraits, the artist and designer Tamara Muller uses her own face, pasting it atop various haunting figures. Within the context of these crudely drawn bodies, her features, seen over and over again, take on an uncanny, trance-like quality, allowing them to collectively span her entire lifetime from girlhood to the present. Within this expressionistic realm, the barriers between childhood’s innocence and the guilt of adulthood are disturbingly blurred to create a narrative where play and fear work in tandem.

Muller’s faces leap dizzyingly through the ages: baby, child, adult, blurring the lines between male and female in the process. A seemingly incomplete rendering of the bodily form appears to the post-Renaissance eye as primitive or childlike, creating a cognitive and visceral tension with the heavily weighted heads, which are given a disproportionate depth and dimensionality. For this reason, the fleshy, flushed faces seem dangerously precarious, as if they were too psychologically burdened to rest comfortably on a naive and doll-like body.

In a realm where child self and grown self live side-by-side, an uncomfortable eroticism emerges, carrying with it the guilt of innocence lost. In one image, a woman bears her naked breasts, her head taxed with the weight of a baby face robbed of her body. In another disturbing piece, a young girl sits on a rabbit, normally a symbol of fertility and sex, baring her disturbingly youthful genitalia. A woman holds a younger version of herself, and the latter’s body wilts, rag doll like. In these powerful images, it’s unclear who is haunting whom; is the grown self plagued by her childhood, or is it the other way around? Take a look. (via HiFructose)

Vintage Porn Transformed Into Poignant And Loving Pieces

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The artist Stephen Irwin’s work reinterprets the erotic; by scratching away and obscuring unnecessary content from found vintage porn imagery, he constructs a more emotionally climactic vision of love making. Like faded, far away memories of sexual encounters, his images only recall the most poetic and visceral sensations: the insertion of a finger, the flicking of a tongue, private moments of masturbation.

Unlike the work of someone like Von Brandis, Irwin’s images challenge the pornographic inclination to objectify the body, evoking moments of mutual bliss that transcend the material form. Irwin’s hands, limbs, and genitalia stand in for individuals, blurring their identities and ultimately pin-pointing a moment of worshipful self-actualization. The point of orgasm is elevated to spiritual heights when mouths cry out to the heavens. In a particularly sensual piece, the careful insertion of fingers into the vagina harkens back to illustrations of the doubting Thomas fingering the wounds of Christ.

These moments of ecstasy, however, are painfully brief; body parts emerge for an infinite blankness, vanishing just as soon as they appear. A deliberately messy black marker erases the figures, leaving only shadows in its wake; again, a shaded limb fades into whiteness, as if pushed down by a firm hand on the buttocks. The artist’s choice to use vintage images operates as yet another reminder of the temporality of climax.

These images are gloriously unstable and unreliable; for many, it’s impossible to tell if the original pornography was a sketch, painting, or photograph. Here, the lines between fantasy and recollection, between the corporeal and the spiritual, are miraculously indistinguishable. (via Juxtapoz)

Artist Interview: Facebook Censored Photographer Gracie Hagen’s New Book

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If you were following us back in December, you may remember a post we did about Gracie Hagen‘s project, “Illusions of the Body.” This proved our most popular post to date, and was even flagged and banned by Facebook as inappropriate, something I covered in a separate post. Since the December post, Hagen has finished putting a book together of full color images of the project, including 17 never before released images. The book is available for pre-order on sale for $50 (regularly $60) to be shipped on May 1st, and each advance purchase will be numbered and signed by Hagen. What better way to show your support of work like Hagen’s, work that shouldn’t be censored by social media just because it features nude bodies, than to own your very own collection of these powerful images?  Hagen was able to answer a few questions about the ban and her work via email.

Vincent Castiglia Uses His Own Blood To Paint Macabre Scenes (NSFW)

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For the surrealist painter Vincent Castiglia, his “work is literally a blood sacrifice on the altar of art;” using up to 30 vials of his own blood for his darkly sprawling paintings, he hopes to imbue his richly philosophical work with his own living tissue. The artist’s blood shares the same iron oxide pigment as many commercial paints, lending each image its dark rusty tone and heightening the drama of Castiglia’s macabre scenes.

For this blood artist, the unusual medium works in service of larger themes. In extracting blood from his own body, sometimes 15 vials at a time (less than a blood donation), he allows the literal life-giving substance to more deeply examine fertile powers of mankind. With the careful painting of milk-filled breasts and deliberate vaginal imagery, Castiglia celebrates the allegorical implications of motherhood and childbirth. A female figure rises from the earth, howling like the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, who birthed the entire world.

The idea of human creative potential becomes complicated with the dark suggestion of our mortality. A mother nurses from a wheelchair, her skeletal legs and decaying infant painted in dried blood, reminding viewers that with life comes inevitable ruin. Laid upon a cross, a woman bears the suffering of Jesus, her abdomen radiating light while her vulva appears to be ominously stitched shut.

The introduction of religious imagery helps resolve the tension between death and birth. Borrowing shapes and floral imagery from early Christian painting, Castiglia implies a connection between death and eternal life. In sacrificing his own blood, the artist fills not a Holy Grail but a canvas, elegantly preserving his own flesh for our consideration. (via HuffPost, ABC, Oddity Central, and Tumblr)