White Line No. 1.
Photographs by Thomas Karsten.
edition GALERIE VEVAIS, 2008. 74 pp., 5 gatefolds and 79 tritone plus a decorative color (mixed from silver and gold) and varnish, 11½x13".
... Part of the joy of erotic art, especially erotic photography, is that it – again like all the other arts – is a gift to us from the artist and the model, a gift of the emotion inherent in it. Even though erotic art can be an aphrodisiac, it is never meant to be a substitute for sex, any more so than William Blake’s Prophetic Books are meant to be a substitute for actual spiritual experience. Both are emotional gifts, one meant to stimulate spiritual contemplation, the other sexual contemplation.
For example, when we look at a Caspar David Friedrich painting, we do so in order to feel the emotion he felt, just as we listen to a symphony by Mahler or read a poem by Yeats in order to have their emotion recreated and transmitted to us across time. Art is a way for us to have more Life. It is the gift of life itself, for it allows us to absorb into our lives the most essential creative moments of the lives of Karsten, Blake, Friedrich, Mahler, Yeats, and others – and all the visual artists’ models, as well.
When we look at Schiele’s work, at his models with their legs opened for the viewer’s eyes, or the smiling model in Die Traume-Beschaute who has spread her labia apart so that we might even more clearly see her, we can be assured these models were active partners in the creation of the works’ emotional gifts, which in those cases were erotic gifts. Karsten alone shaped the aesthetic dimension of his photographs and chose to capture and frame certain emotional moments while rejecting others, but part of his work’s gift to the viewer was also shaped by the models, by their passions and desires.