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Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: Where are all the dicks?

Part Two

Where are all the dicks? 

I was looking around a prominent auction house, trying to be cultured or something and I realised there were no dicks in any of the art.  There were only aesthetically pleasing and/or honestly revealing renditions of the female nude. This lack of male nudes within the auction house represented a supply and demand market flaw to me.  I’m so familiar with the female body now, seriously, I would like to see a dick now and again.

I scanned the room for anything that my eyes might recognise as phallic.  Of course, the World is filled with phallic symbolism but in this case, there was nothing overtly penis-like.  Sure, there has been more than a fair share of male genitalia in art – see antiquity, Vito Acconci, Robert Mapplethorpe, Louise Bourgeois, etc.  Indeed, the way the nude has been approached wthin art has been closely tied to its treatment in the media.  However, particularly within Auckland art galleries in recent times, there seems to be a notable absence of and dare I say, a disdain for the aesthetic and metaphoric presence of the penis (Note: I am not saying they are not out there, merely that they are harder to find – Artspace has been particularly good at penises in the last few years).

There is an overabundance of ‘acceptance’ and reverence for the female body which seems to be a bit backwards to me – the traditional use of the female nude within art presented an unobtainable beauty standard; a voiceless muse that was only to be admired as a fetish object.  In contemporary art, the female body remains this way, despite sometimes trying to kick against the literal pricks.  The withdrawl of penises from art has created a divide in equality – for  women still remain the ones whose bodies are glanced at and examined under close scrutiny.

I thought I’d take this moment to appreciate 3 particularly good dicks in Art History.  As below, 3 Good Dicks in Art History , according to me:


David, 1504, Marble, Michelangelo

The most infamous dick of all, I think.  The original benchmark for the unrealistic male physique and psyche deserves a mention.  It did of course majorly influence ideas of masculinity and therefore probably affects our society to this day.

Bobby Masturbating, 1980, Print, Nan Goldin


Nan Goldin’s telling photographs of her abusive boyfriend and her life with said abusive boyfriend from her infamous book The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.  There is also just a fair amount of males and females, of all ages, engaging in different acts from masturbating to dying.  Equal opportunity for audience voyeurism and curiosity.   Whether it is a glamourous depiction of a wreckless drug-fueled lifestyle is debatable.

Reclining Male Nude, 1956, Blue ballpoint on paper, Andy Warhol

Reclining Male Nude, 1956, Blue ballpoint on paper, Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s works, particularly the illustrations he drew,were at least stylistically influenced by Egon Schiele, Jean Cocteau and Lucien Freud.  Why might I have picked him instead of the previously mentioned artists?  His prevalence in the media and film partnership with model and street hustler Joe Dallesandro also produced some very interesting dick material.

I’m just going to put it out there – there needs to be more dicks in art.  Now.  No more seashell painted labias.  Actually rather than completely eliminating the female nude from art, maybe just throw in some seashell painted foreskins every now and then.

Natasha Matila Smith


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