British Museum - Sex in the western tradition
Type of Spiritual Experience
This is a useful article which featured alongside the exhibition of shunga art in the British Museum. It provides some background and contrast to the approach in the east.
A description of the experience
Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art - The British Museum
Sex in the Western tradition
The Positions (or I Modi or The Sixteen Pleasures) were for a long time notorious as being the most sexually explicit images ever made in the tradition of European art.
They were banned by the Pope in 1524 and their author, Raimondo, imprisoned. Understandably discouraged, few European artists made sexually explicit images until the dawn of the modern age, with notable pioneers including Aubrey Beardsley, in the 1890s, and Egon Schiele, in the 1910s.
This wasn’t just because of one Pope’s diktat, but because fear of the body as one of the chief enemies of godliness, of holiness, of the individual’s hopes of getting to heaven, is deeply embedded in the Christian traditions which form our culture. The Church Fathers down to Augustine were repelled by the human body, sought martyrdom as quickly as possible, or tried to starve and subjugate the bodies which they saw as quite literally the enemy of their immortal souls. The Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History is a list of the holy men of Ireland and Britain, all of whom starved or scourged their bodies to achieve holiness.