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The Chinese Pleasure Garden
Erotic Art from the Bertholet Collection

14.05.2011 to 14.08.2011

The exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the realm of Chinese erotic art. Unlike its Japanese counterpart (shunga), Chinese erotic art has remained largely unknown until now. On display here are painted album sheets and figurines dating from the late 16th to early 20th century. The sheets shed light both on eroticism and sexuality in China, as well as on home interiors, dress, fashion, hairstyles and horticulture. Although their creators remain anonymous, many of the works boast a high degree of artistic skill. They were produced with the help of life drawings, posed for in painters' workshops. Five of these exceptionally rare original life drawings are also presented in the exhibition.

The exhibition focuses on both the art historical and sociological aspects of this genre. Such themes as the role of women, family life, homo-eroticism and the phenomenon of foot binding are illustrated by way of the artworks on show. Then, as now, the aim of such erotic art was to arouse curiosity and entice visitors. Many of the subjects are very explicit depictions of sexuality, and yet their small format and the intricacy of their execution mean that they are almost touching in their effect. The exhibition invites visitors to contemplate on the dynamic relationship between erotic art and pornography, a relationship which still has relevance today, both in the West and in China.

The works on show all stem from the well-known collection of Ferdinand Bertholet, Amsterdam.