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A History of Sex in 9 Walls & Wallpapers

12 May 2016

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Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three.

So wrote poetic misery peddler, Philip Larkin.  He obviously hadn’t spent enough time looking at the walls around him.  Eroticism and sex have been a feature of wall art and wallpaper since classical times, and before.  Journeying through the different expressions of eroticism can tell us plenty about how the world has changed, and how people have used walls and wallpaper to reflect the culture around them.

So here’s a tour through the history of sex, as told by 9 pieces of wall art and wallpapers.

 

Check out this neon artwork by Tracy Emin and other stunning neon artworks here.

 

          

 

0 A.D.

Maybe sex began in A.D. 63?

The erotic wall art of Pompeii survived thanks to thick layers of ash that covered the city for centuries.  Fortunately, the Romans had not invented wallpaper, otherwise it might not have survived so well.

Whether heterosexual, homosexual, group sex or more – the Romans were a right fruity bunch.  But this European acceptance of eroticism was soon to be buried, just like Pompeii, as the Roman Empire fell and the Dark Ages began.

Cream & Brown Funky Graffiti Pattern Wallpaper hero image

 

1000 A.D.

Go East, Life is Peaceful there.

And a smidge naughty too it seems.  Whilst public European eroticism took a knocking during the Dark Ages, Eastern Cultures continued to indulge in public appreciation of carnal pleasures.

Heading to the 10th Century in India, you find the Khajuraho temples, built by the Chandela dynasty.  Lacking access to easy-hang non-woven wallpaper, they too used stone as their canvas.

Over 10% of all the wall art at the temples is dedicated to erotic art.  Much of it is of a fantastically athletic and communal nature that makes it clear that India was the place to be in pre-Medieval times.

Blue Smoky Watercolour Wall Mural hero image

 

1750 A.D.

Gin, out, shake it all about

Whereas the Ancients Romans and slightly-less-ancient Indians found their good times in communal and flexible couplings, Europeans of the Middle Ages were a right drag.  Guilt, piety, monks, witch burnings and Inquisitions.  Yawn, yawn, yawn. Total mood killers at any swingers’ do.

Thank God, or Shiva, then for the invention of Gin.  It may have caused massive social destruction (as captured by Hogarth), but it also loosened up the upper and lower classes, as well as upper and lower arses.

This Erotic Toile de Jouy wallpaper may be a modern creation by Pascale Risbourg, but it captures the indulgent delinquency of a 18th Century gin-fuelled evening.

Erotic Toile de Jouy wallpaper

 

Or Liam Sparkes’ wallpaper, Tattoo Flash 01, which reflects the back street shenanigans of the ginned-up lower classes.

Black Cool Designer Tattoo Wallpaper hero image

 

  

As an awesome & luxurious 100% cotton cushion.

 

1900 A.D.

Vic-bore-riana

So maybe everyone had a little too much gin.  Maybe Syphilis was just a little too moreish.  Maybe Europe just woke up with a giant hangover, fourteen kids they couldn’t name and hickies all over their necks.

Either way, late 19th Century Europe was not a good time to indulge in public sexual pleasures.

Thankfully, Eastern cultures continued to show the way, proudly displaying priapic princes and comely lasses discussing the issues of the day.  In late 19th Century Iran, artists found influence in earlier India works such as the Kamasutra and created many pieces of erotic wall art.

Red & White Abstract Forest Wall Mural hero image

 

1960 A.D.

Come on out, your time is now.

As legs were covered, peccadillos ignored and sexual freedom suppressed, Europe had a sexual mini-Dark Age in the first half of the 20th Century.

But once the 1960s hit, that all changed. Sexual freedom for women was one boon, but more importantly country after country decriminalized homosexuality, allowing homosexual relationships and culture to come out of the shadows.

This wallpaper created from the collections of Darin Klein features homosexual zines and art that were published from the 1960s onwards.

 

1990 A.D.

French letters

If there’s one country that’s always been comfortable with a little je ne sais quoi, then it’s the French.  But French sexuality has always been something a little unique – accepted in public, but indulged more in the semi-private.  The affair, the mistress, a little looking the other way – it’s as French as cheese and wine.  Du pain, du vin, du bit on the side.

And this wallpaper by Atelier Blink captures this aspect of French sexual culture perfectly.   The traditional damask pattern hides many naughty secrets – and even the title, Rendesvous, suggests an illicit on a dark night in 1990s’ Paris.  Parfait.

Blue Embroidered Flower Wall Mural hero image

 

 

2000 A.D.

Let’s all meet up in the year 2000

Was it the rave culture of the 1990s? Was it the internet? Was it the invention of twerking?

Because something happened to sexuality in the 2000s.  There was an explosion of acceptance and experimentation, with genders becoming fluid and nudity becoming ever less shocking.

Flowers of Earthly Delights II by Arlette Ess, captures this mood.  Using genitalia morphed into a traditional decorative pattern, it caters for a utopian ‘post-sexualised’ world.  It was originally part of a 2011 exhibition at the Cob Gallery, along with that poster-boy (and girl) for sexual freedom, Grayson Perry.

Grey Vintage Brooklyn Map Wall Mural hero image

 

2016 A.D.

Sexual art comes full circle.

So here we are at the present day.  All manner of sexual preferences are served by the internet.  All forms of sexual expression can find a home somewhere.  The repression of the early 20th Century seems largely to be fading and once more Western and Eastern cultures share experiences from their different sexual cultures.

So what better way to end this journey, than with a wallpaper created by a Brit, Tony Soares, representing Shibari, an ancient Japanese form of artistic rope bondage, currently in voting on a Scandinavian designer wallpaper website.

 

 

     

Check out this neon artwork by Tracy Emin and other stunning neon artworks here.

Tracy emin artwork

 

Discover all our unique, artist-made designer wallpapersdesigner cushions & designer fabrics – erotic and or not.  They start from only £89 per 10m roll, including free shipping to the UK, EU and USA.

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