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This is a book of mostly paintings, accompanied by a number of photographs, and a few sculptures, and quotations, making a total of 296 illustrations. The pages are a little more than 7x5 inches large, which is on the small side for a coffee table book, and the detail and color of the reproductions is adequate although not great. The eight chapters are ordered according to the sequence of events normally leading to sex: first sight, flirting, kissing, embracing, undressing, foreplay, the main event, and the afterglow.
Each chapter has a short introduction, and each illustration is accompanied by its title, date, and artist, and a short paragraph, explaining or commenting on the image. These paragraphs often state the obvious, but equally often say something useful, and only occasionally are trite or annoying.
The greatest strength of this book is in its selection of the paintings. The photographs are less interesting, and it is hard to appreciate a sculpture in a book. The quotations are close to clichés, too short to be subtle or complex. But the paintings are exceptionally well chosen, because of their variety. There's a good number of old pictures by Roman, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and other international artists. There are plenty of images from traditional "great art" which one would expect to see -- Hogarth, William Blake, Courbet, Manet, Klimt, and Picasso, for example. I'm no art historian, but many of these pictures were somewhat familiar to me. These are interesting; for example the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec from the late ninetheenth century are exceptionally sensual and arresting.
But it's the more recent paintings by Americans and Europeans that will in fact probably be less familiar and more interesting to readers, and the index of artists at the end of the book will be especially useful. I was very taken with pictures by Kamile Corry, Gregory Radionov, Cynthia Evans, Wes Christensen, Robin Palanker, Pablo Campos, John Nava, F. Scott Hess, and Ruprecht von Kaufmann, none of whom I had encountered previously. I will now be looking out for more work by these painters.
It's not clear how anyone would use this book. It's certainly not scholarly, and it contains a weird mixture of different types of work. Some might find it fun to browse, although I'd be surprised if many found it an erotic "bedroom book." Maybe it is the kind of book one would like to have on one's bookshelf, waiting to be perused every few months, when one is looking for distraction.
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