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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great entertainment, but non-existent scholarship
on July 16, 2001
This is an excellent cross-selection of international erotic artwork. Although pieces from Western civilization are more heavily-weighted, there are still plenty of sculptures/paintings from Asia, South America, and Africa. The time range runs the gamut from thousands of years ago to modern art. The pieces are chosen well, and the colour reproduction is admirable.
Do not expect a meticulously-researched book, though. I don't have a terrific knowledge of general art history, but I do know a bit more about ancient Greek art than the average person. Although the vital statistics are available for each of the pieces shown in the book, the write-ups are occasionally filled with pure conjecture. For example, some of the Greek red-figure artwork is described rather wishfully. One piece, showing an orgy scene, is described as a scene involving men and hetairai (high-class courtesans) at a symposium. In actuality, these women are probably lowly prostitutes, as evidenced by the coarseness of their features and heavyset bodies. Hetairai are depicted as being more refined and beautiful than these particular women.
Another red-figure piece is featured, showing a man and a young woman having sex outdoors. Dr. Westheimer writes, "If he is a considerate lover ... he will turn her around and bring her to orgasm with cunnilingus." Although cunnilingus may have been practiced, it is not represented in ancient Greek art or mentioned in Greek literature. In fact, the Greeks didn't even have a word for it. Since ancient Greece was a very sexist society, and generally speaking, women did not have any rights, I think it's highly unlikely the woman in the red-figure cup ever did receive any sort of oral nookie.
Although I believe Dr. Westheimer makes incorrect assumptions about some of the artwork, her artistic interpretations aren't the purpose of the book. The purpose is to offer light entertainment and to provide artistically-motivated lessons in seduction, a goal she achieves quite well.