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Sex libris

The Ex Libris is created through graphic multiplication; it is an artistic trademark which originally was glued into books. By the end of the 19th century it became an independent small graphical art and collection object. Due to its personal character connected to the owner it offers the possibility for intimate, provocative and even erotic themes. Without raising claim to completeness, this virtual exhibition presents several erotic representation types from the beginning of the 20th century to the beginning of the 1920s from the art deco and Art Nouveau period. From the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, besides the relation between man and woman, artists were preoccupied with the relation between life and death. As counterpoint to innocence, the woman appears as the incarnation of evil: she has demonic inveiglement as Femme Fatale or the biblical figure of Salome. The love stories of the Greek and Roman mythology – especially the figure of Leda – offered also opportunity for erotic representations. On sex-libris are often animals to see. In the Christian iconography the symbol of adultery is the cock, the monkey, the pig or even the snake. The snake is the symbol of masculinity and fertile libido, in the snake coiled around the apple tree in the Bible is the devil incarnate. The pig is the symbol of corporality and eroticism. The monkey has almost only negative meanings: it was seen as the caricature of man and the incorporation of its animal instincts. In the sexual symbolism the masculine sexual organ has an emphasized role, being the symbol of vitality and new life arising from it. The giant phallus is often seen together with the female nude. This is one the most common themes besides the representation of erotic female nude and coitus. Countless variations and scenes of the sexual act itself appear on sex libris. Franz von Bayros became famous with his illustrations with wanton eroticism and gallant and racy graphics. His exhibition in Budapest in 1913 ended in a scandal, the exhibition was closed because of the audacious eroticism of his artworks. The selection contains creations of Hungarian artists as well: the oldest among them is the personal ex libris of the painter Mihály Zichy. The artistic and decorative compositions of Attila Sassy (Aiglon) and Arnold Gara levitate on the boundary of sensuality and dreams. The conventional hair cascades of the sensual female shapes increase the erotic effect. Not only the hair, but often a piece of garment or shoes and stockings have fetish effect. The artworks selected – except one –are from the collection of botany professor Dr Rezső Soó which he donated to the Museum of Applied Arts in 1969. His was the largest private collection in the world.