Private Eyes: Selected Artwork from the Kinsey Institute Collection is an informative and at times highly amusing exhibition of unique, homemade erotic artefacts archived by Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey, the controversial biologist and researcher. Kinsey is regarded as the father of the sexual revolution, and has influenced social and cultural values worldwide.
The show features drawings, paintings and sculptures that portray the behind-closed-doors desires of anonymous individuals during one of the most conservative eras in American history. This is the first time these eye-opening and wholly personal artworks have been put on public display.
In the late 1930s and ’40s Dr. Kinsey caused controversy by collecting thousands of individual testimonies about sexual experiences and fantasies. It has also been reported that he took things further, including the observation and participation in performed sex acts. His ultimate objective: to broaden the scope of knowledge regarding sexual identity, proclivity and convention. Within three years of starting the project, Kinsey had compiled over 2,000 case histories, and by 1947 had founded the Institute for Sex Research in Indiana.
When Kinsey decided to create an archive of objects relating to sexuality, donations flew in from all over the world. The pieces in Private Eyes: Selected Artwork from the Kinsey Institute Collection come from the Kinsey Institute’s collection of over 100,000 items.
The exhibition is a predominantly tame – though nonetheless intriguing – look at archival erotica, featuring such things as a naively rendered triptych of drawings showing a man undergoing transvestite transformation. However there are moments when things get remarkably hot, such as a diagram titled A Guide to the Administration of a Cane, which illustrates the areas of maximum erotic effectiveness when caning a woman’s naked ass. There are also a few images on display that are shocking even by today’s standards – such as a rudimentary pencil drawing of a man who thinks he’s having sex with a woman atop a donkey, when he’s actually penetrating the beast.
Private Eyes is on view at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago until October 2. Find out more at http://www.art.org
About the author:
UK-based artist Billy Chainsaw specializes in mixed-media pop art and has exhibited in numerous galleries in such far-flung locations as London and Los Angeles. Learn more about his work at www.koolkrakenincorporated.com