From its very start the visual arts show sexuality in the drawings and wall paintings which depict sexual intercourse, and in the sculptures with overaccentuated male and female sex characteristics.
Visual arts: attraction and repulsion
A striking aspect of some old sculptures is the big breasts and penises that have become known as ‘fertility symbols’. Possibly this term is used for prudish motives, although strictly speaking erotic art is indeed a function of the reproductive system. Big breasts and penises still have great attractive power today, as is demonstrated by pornographic art. At the same time, disproportionally large sex organs evoke anxiety and even repulsion. This mixture of attraction and repulsion is a reflection of the opposite feelings associated with sexual desire (see Lust).
Visual arts: expressing sexual behaviour
Numerous drawings, paintings and sculptures expressing sexual behaviour have been produced in the co.urse of history In modern times a true explosion has taken place of images through photo, film and computer. We are confronted daily with a thousand times as many images as our parents and ancestors. There is no question about the influence which this has on the way we experience the world. From time to time people express their concerns about the ‘sex wave’ on tv and internet. This is an example of selective observation. Matter-of-fact surveys show that less than 1% of the images on tv and internet are explicitly sexual in nature, just as the circulation of sex magazines is only a fraction of the circulation of all other magazines. One can argue that every percentage over zero is too high, but to call it a ‘tidal wave’ is an exaggeration. Those who oppose public images of ‘sex’ usually fail to notice that the sexual system is omnipresent in texts and images: couples, families, parents and children, the typical differentiation between male an female in clothing, work, problems, hobbies, sports. Commonly accepted public manifestations of the reproductive system constitute the majority of all images of the human world we see, in magazines, movies and on tv.