By Hugo Gye. When the treasures of Pompeii were unearthed in the 18th century, you might imagine that archaeologists would have been keen to show off their finds, which revolutionised modern understanding of the Roman world. But one part of the collection was hidden away for nearly years - the erotic art which was a central part of everyday life as it adorned the houses of local citizens. And even now, the sexually explicit material with embarrassed its discoverers is kept in a so-called 'secret cabinet' separate from the rest of the material discovered in Pompeii and neighbouring Herculaneum. Explicit: This statue of Pan having sex with a goat is one of the obscene statues in the 'Gabinetto Segreto'.
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Sexually explicit art is found in all cultures. Artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons blended high art and kitsch in an attempt to push the boundaries of good taste. There was a time, however, when works of art by great masters were considered vulgar and pornographic. And some of these artworks still have the power to be, if not shocking, then at least taboo.
The self-portrait is a difficult style of photography to master. And when you throw in the vulnerability of creating one without the added comfort of clothing, it makes it all the more challenging for any artist. But when done well, it can create stunning results. As the photographers selected here have demonstrated so inspiringly. The work of these image makers may span different decades, and while some shoot in black and white and others in bright Technicolor, they all share the same gift for creating engaging and thought-provoking art.