lesbian erotic and pornographic art

Some research notes – short list of artists who have shaped this field.

New age UK feminist painter Monica Sjoo deals with birth, goddesses and the cosmic.

‘It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit’ (Alice Walker 2003, Introduction to Online Exhibition: ‘Through Space and Time The Ancient Sisterhoods Spoke To Me’).

The first lesbian photographs to link lesbian to sexual liberation, by American Tee Corinne, (with cornerstone book ‘Yantras of Womanlove’, 1982, which uses negative printing and solarization) who was an activist, writer, educator and artist.  I find her life and work fascinating – she started in 1969, while a postgraduate and married to a man-

‘She experimented with sexual imagery in her own art, beginning with photographs of heterosexual couples kissing and moving on to drawings of her own genitals, a subject for which she could find no other models’. (Bibliographical note in Guide to the Tee A. Corinne Papers 1966-2003 at the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives)

She did art again after a pause of around 5 years and after coming out, using exclusively sexually explicit material. She is responsible for the ‘Cunt Coloring Book’ (1975), which is still published and was intended to be used as an educational aid for kids (renamed ‘Labiaflowers’ for a short while). International reach came with photographic work published in the lesbian journal Sinister Wisdom in 1977 and, as a writer, with erotic stories collection Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex, in 1987 and winning the Lambda Literary Award in 1990 as editor of the erotic anthology, Intricate Passions.

In 1998 ‘…the Traditional Values Coalition circulated a package of what they consider “pornography” to members of the U.S. Senate. They gathered the material, including The Cunt Coloring Book and the book Nothing But the Girl — which features Corinne’s photographs — from The Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library. It was a further effort to discredit the ambassadorial nomination of James Hormel, for whom the center is named’. (Queer arts 1998)

Sex-radical dykes and S/M – Quim & On Our Backs

Jill Posener’s Untitled (1988), Katie Niles’  Untitled (1978), Jacqui Duckworth, Laurence Jangy-Paget, and Mumtaz Karimjee.

‘Photographer Della Grace, for example, conscious of the exploitation of women in heterosexual pornography, has explored different ways of confronting this problem in her work. One exhibition of her staged sex photographs featured audio tapes of the models talking about their feelings during the shoot, and she went on to photograph herself in explicit sexual scenarios, shutter-release bulb visibly in shot’ (source glbtq.com).

Catherine Opie’s Being and Having (1991)-‘lesbians wearing false moustaches and beards, plays aggressively with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity as they relate to sexuality. Giard’s Particular Voices project, a compendium of portraits of writers, helped to commemorate 20th‐century gay and lesbian culture, an important concern considering the devastation caused by AIDS and the critical neglect of much gay and lesbian literary production’ (source: arts.jrank.org).

Morgan Gwenwald’s butch-femme photography (US).

Kiss & Tell Collective – Susan Stewart, Persimmon Blackbridge, and Lizard Jones – challenging censorship (Canada).

Some Biblio

Boffin, T., and Fraser, J., Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs (1991).
Bright, S., and Posener, J., Nothing But the Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image (1996).

Corinne, Tee A. The Sex Lives of Daffodils: Growing Up as an Artist Who Also Writes. Wolf Creek, OR : Pearlchild, c1997

Ellenzweig, A., The Homoerotic Photograph (1992).
Hammond, H., Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History (2000).

gay and lesbian photography – On our Backs, Yantras of Womanlove, The Perfect Moment, Being and Having, Particular Voices (http://arts.jrank.org/pages/10608/gay-lesbian-photography.html#ixzz0cDBTjZV9 accessed 10 January)

glbtq – an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture,  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Lesbian, Tamsin Wilton (accessed 10 january 2010)

Queer arts.org. “Obscurely Famous,” an interview with Tee Corinne. September 1998 (Accessed 10 January 2010). Online at http://www.queer arts.org/archive/9809/corinne/corinne.html

Sherman, Phillip and Samuel Bernstein, eds. Uncommon Heroes. Fletcher Press, c1994
Waugh, T., Hard to Imagine (1996).


It is as if she is reintroducing us to our lost passions. Passions about the earth, about nature, about true worship, about our own strength and power in the face of the mystery that we, as humans and women, inhabit.
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