Momentum: PICASSO'S PORN by Joyce Ma=
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- What do performer Jennifer Lopez's nipples haveto do = with Pablo Picasso? Give me a few minutes and I'll tell you.
The newest fashion trend for women, believe it or not, is the erectnippl= e. In case you weren't watching the recent Academy Award show, Lopezpromin= ently displayed hers under a lovely silver and gray dress by Chanel.
But Lopez was just the tip (pardon) of the iceberg here. InFrance, on a= recent trip, I noticed that store window mannequins in townsas far away fr= om each other in character as Narbonne and Paris featured thesame thing. A= nd, I've learned, silicone nipples (to augment both arousaland nature) are = now a hot item in fashion stores.
Fashion has always required a moveable erogenous zone. Last year itwas b= are feet in strappy sandals; for the Japanese it used to be the napeof a Ge= isha's neck. Breasts are used to sell everything from trucks totoilet paper= , so that's not such a big deal.
Even the nipple thing is a recycled idea -- the story goes that Jean = Harlow kept a bowl of ice on the sets of her movies and rubbed a cube under= her satin gown just before they yelled "Action!"
The problem is that we = seem to approve of substitutes for sex, while the real thing (genitals, pen= etration) remains a hidden, shameful and forbidden thing.
Why are we so skittish? It's the 21st Century, not PuritanEngland. Why= , outside of the cheesiest, most female-degrading,sold-in-a-dark-room porn,= aren't we allowed to see images of the warmth,intimacy, fun and excitement= of sex itself?
In Paris, I went to an interesting show at the Galerie National duJeu de= Paume. It was called "Picasso Erotique."
The curators had put together a collection of about 300 ofPicasso's sexu= ally-themed drawings, engravings, paintings, ceramics andsculptures; many = of them had been hidden away for years.
Arranged chronologically, the very first one was a drawing of twosexuall= y active goats, which he did when he was about 10.
The show then moved through his young adulthood in Spain and Paris,where= he seemed to spend a great deal of time with prostitutes. As with most yo= ung men in Catholic countries, that was the way he learned about theanatomy= of women -- lots of spread legs in this section -- and thepossibilities of= sex.
He drew his prostitutes with erotic kindness, and the madams asevil old = crones holding large bags of money. He drew his friends having sex, and wh= en his closest friend, Casagemas, killed himself in 1901, he painted him en= tering a heaven that was a huge whorehouse in the clouds.
The pictures pr= ogressed through every one of Picasso's famousperiods -- representational, = Blue, Cubist, Surrealist, Abstract, you nameit. Men and women make love, m= inotuars violate women and make love. Therewere rape scenes, stunning port= raits, acrobatics, a woman menstruating,another urinating, wit, and a great= deal of voyeurism.
To my mind, the most arousing drawings were done at the end of hislife, = in 1968, in a large series called "Raphael et la Fornarina." Theseline dra= wings of a couple having flagrant sex as old men -- often religiousfigures = -- watch, has the powerful impact of Japanese erotic prints.
"Age forces us to stop, but one still wants to smoke," Picasso said. "I= t's the same thing with making love. One doesn't do it, but one still wants= to."
Of course a show like this has shock value, but it wears off early.= Then it becomes a long and intimate journey through the artist's mind as h= elived a very long and creative life; there must have been few thoughts and= images that passed through his mind that he did not draw somewhere, and ma= ny of them were about sex.
Well, you might be saying to yourself right about now, I'd like to see t= his show.
Forget about it. The closest the show will come to the United= States is Montreal in June.
"This show could never be put on in the United States," saidGerard Regn= ier, the show's co-curator and the director of the Paris PicassoMuseum, in = an interview with Reuters. "The political correctness thereacts as a new form of terrorism for the a= rt world."
He mentioned New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. Jesse Helms-- m= en who actively believe in cultural censorship -- as examples of thesekind = of terrorists.
"We didn't even try to bring the show to the States," said co-curator Je= an-Jacques Lebel, in an interview with Forbes.com. "Why should wewaste our = time and energy dealing with bureaucrats?"
The real question, however, is why people in the United States,who are a= lready drowning in commercial sexual images, can't see Picasso'spaintings. = Why should bureaucrats like Giuliani and Helms, who obviouslyhave radicall= y different tastes from my own, be able to prevent me fromseeing an interes= ting art exhibit in my own (free) country?
Is it to protect the children -- the usual excuse given whencultural con= servatives try to control people's minds and actions bystamping "Forbidden"= across normal desires?
Well, just how many young, impressionable childre= n wander aroundunescorted in museums? The show is called "Picasso Erotique= ," for heaven'ssake. Surely, a parent would be warned. (On the morning tha= t I saw theshow, there were quite a few teenagers -- with adults -- among t= heviewers.)
I mentioned this to a friend who has two children under 12. Shesaid, "O= f course I would know exactly what kind of a show I was taking mychildren t= o see. I'm that kind of mom."
Still, I pointed out, she censors the videos she rents for the family.=
"Yes, but it's not to censor sex itself," she said. "Watching, forexampl= e, Richard Gere make love to Julia Roberts, gives children a veryidealized = image. It's not real, and I don't want them to be misled."
The Picasso s= how does not idealize sex. It shows it as it trulywas to Picasso, and is f= or many of us.
"Art is not chaste," Picasso once said. "Or if it is, it is not art."=
The exhibit was an opportunity to visit the mind and spirit of agreat ar= tist as it focused on one theme throughout the creation of many ofthe most = important art movements of the 20th Century. It can inspire us,it can inst= ruct us, and yes, happily, it can arouse us.
Can we see it? No. But we can see Jennifer Lopez's nipples anytime we = want.
Joyce Marcel is a freelance journalist who writes aboutculture, politics= , economics and travel.