Ornamental Eroticism

The urge to ornament one’s face and everything within reach is the start of plastic art. It is the baby talk of painting. All art is erotic. …Loos (Architect b1870; d 1933) grafts an old art-historical theory, that art is ornamental in origin, onto a new psychoanalytical proposition, that it is erotic in origin as well. The first ornament was a simple cross, Loos asserts, which we might interpret as the primary mark of a vertical figure against a horizontal ground: however with the egregious heterosexism…he interprets it as the primordial sign of the heterosexual act: ‘A horizontal dash: the prone woman. A vertical dash: the man penetrating her.” Like this first cross, according to Loos, all subsequent art is driven by “surplus energy” that demands release: “the man who created it felt the same urge as Beethoven; he was in the same heaven in which Beethoven created the Ninth symphony”. This statement is also psychoanalytical in implication: what separates “erotic symbols on the walls” from the Beethoven Ninth is the degree of sublimation in the two acts, a term Loos does not use but often suggests. (Prosthetic Gods Hal Foster: Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 2004)

This entry was posted in Thoughts & Philosophies.

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