Contemporary Art

Erotic: Passion & Desire | 16 February 2017

A cross the centuries, art has always been intrinsically linked to expressions of passion and sensuality. The Erotic: Passion & Desire sale in London on 16 February will encompass representations of love and sex from antiquity to the present day.

Featuring over 100 extraordinary works comprising 19th-century furniture, design, fine art, photography and contemporary sculpture, the sale explores themes from the beauty of desire to representations of the male nude to the carnal act itself.

The catalogue introduction has been written by Rowan Pelling, who first achieved note as the editor of monthly literary erotic magazine, the Erotic Review, and has since written countless columns devoted to discussions around sex.

Speaking ahead of the auction, Constantine Frangos, Head of Sale, said: “Art has always existed to tell a human story, and sex has always been a part of that story – whether it is there to compel, to shock or to seduce. Indeed, Eroticism in art has appeared in whatever form art has taken, and our exhibition will take the viewer on a journey through the centuries.

“This sale creates a stage on which we are able to bring together a fascinating array of artworks and objects across many disciplines – charting a history whilst also presenting stunning works by artists as eclectic as Picasso, Man Ray, Ettore Sottsass and Marc Quinn.”

The exhibition will open at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries on 11 February 2017 ahead of the auction on 16 February 2017.

Join us in our London galleries on 12 February at 14:30–15:30 for a risqué panel discussion in the midst of over 100 artworks and objects from the Erotic: Passion & Desire exhibition. With speakers Pamela Anderson (Coco de Mer Brand Ambassador), Cosmo Landesman (Writer and Columnist) and moderator Rowan Pelling, former editor of The Erotic Review.

Stories & Video


Discover Highlights from the Sale
The varied works range from 19th century furniture to fine art, photography to contemporary sculpture. Warning: Contains explicit images.


‘Sex is the starting point from which all else follows’
Find out more about Rowan Pelling, the Telegraph columnist and editor of The Erotic Review, who has written the catalogue introduction for the Erotic sale


Rowan Pelling's Guide to Erotic Art
Journalist and broadcaster Rowan Pelling guides us through Sotheby’s upcoming auction, Erotic: Passion & Desire, devoted to the sensual realm.


A Brief History of Erotic Photography
Author and critic Stephen Bayley looks at how the portrayal of sex has fascinated some of the greatest photographers.


The Swan and the Courtesan: An Original Story by Sarah Hall
Britain’s novelist and writer of short fiction Sarah Hall writes a short story inspired by the 19th century exceptional carved mahogany bed that features in the auction.


Dita Von Teese on Collecting Erotica
Upon hearing the word “seduction,” no one comes to mind more immediately than Dita Von Teese.

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