From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In the context of BDSM, bondage involves people being tied up or otherwise restrained for pleasure. Bondage is usually, but not always, a sexual practice. The paraphilia of being sexually aroused by bondage is sometimes known as vincilagnia.
Studies in the U.S. have shown that about three quarters of all men find the idea of bondage to be erotic; many women do as well. As with any study of sexual thoughts and behavior, the available studies are not well controlled and the best studies are now out of date.
Perhaps the most interesting and ardent "bondage philosopher" was Michel Foucault. While it is believed Foucault had only a limited personal involvement in the practice of bondage, he wrote a number of intellectual explorations of BDSM culture. He was particularly interested in the power relations that bondage brought to the surface, and how these relations reflected upon a larger societal discourse. Of further interest was the notion of a "Limit Experience", wherein the participant attempted to navigate the line between the most intense pleasure and nearly unbearable pain. While some have derided "Limit Experience" as a perverse manifestation of the Freudian "death instinct", Focault believed bondage could provide a safe and telling environment for studying this concept.
In art and popular culture
Bondage is also presented in erotic and mainstream literary forms, including cartoons and magazines, and depicted in erotic art, such as some of the works of Gustave Doré and John Everett Millais. The mythical Andromeda was a popular subject for bondage in art by painters including Rembrandt's Andromeda Chained to the Rocks (1630), Théodore Chassériau (1840), Edward Poynter (1869) and Gustave Doré (1869).
Other popular scenarios for bondage in art was that of Angelica from the fifteenth century epic poem Orlando Innamorato, which is itself a continuation of the romantic epic saga Orlando Furioso, which is similar to that of Andromeda in that the heroine is offered as a sacrifice to the sea gods; and the damsel in distress theme. The damsel in distress theme was also used in The Perils of Pauline (1914) motion picture serial, which found Pearl White in mortal danger on a weekly basis.
Depictions of bondage in art may be erotic, in which case they would tend to depict a young woman in danger and fear, and some are BDSM in style. Bizarre was a fetish and bondage magazine published between 1946-1959 by bondage artist John Willie. It included drawings and photographs using professional bondage models in bondage or sadomasochistic scenes. Sweet Gwendoline was the main female character in his works, published largely in the 1950s and 60's, and possibly the most famous bondage icon after Bettie Page. She was repeatedly depicted as the stereotypical naïve blonde damsel in distress.
Bondage received a positive (if brief) treatment in The Joy of Sex, a mainstream sex manual popular in the 1970s. The publication of Madonna's book, Sex, which included photographs of bound nudes, did a great deal to improve public awareness and acceptance of bondage.
By the 1990s, references to bondage could be found in mainstream prime-time television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where equipment such as handcuffs or collars and concepts such as the safeword were included as a matter of course.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty was an erotic trilogy published in the 1980s by Anne Rice under the pseudonym of A. N. Roquelaure which contained bondage scenarios, as part of a wide range of BDSM acts.
- Steady growth in quantity and production values of niche producers
- Increasing prevalence and acceptance of bondage in more mainstream publications (e.g. Penthouse "Iris Oifigiuil")
- The rise of the Internet as a distribution medium.
List of artworks
The following works show a fascination with bondage that extends into the domain of the sexual. Two icons in early modern art connected with bondage are Angelica and Perseus and Andromeda. A male bondage fantasy is that of the Caritas Romana, where the old man Cimon is invariably depicted shackled or bound.
Towards the middle of the 19th century, there is also a general fascination with the captive female, as exemplified in the work of Emmanuel Frémiet who is noted for his faux "natural history" statues such as "Gorilla Carrying off a Woman" and "An Orang Outan Strangling a Young Borneo Savage".
- Rembrandt, Andromeda Chained to the Rocks (1630)
- Ruggiero Rescuing Angelica Ingres (1819), based on Orlando Furioso
- Hiram Powers: The Greek Slave (1844)
- Andromeda (Doré) by Gustave Doré (c.1869)
- Théodore Chassériau: Andromeda chained to the Rock by the Nereids
- John Everett Millais' Knight Errant of 1870 saves a Damsel in distress
- John Everett Millais' The Martyr of the Solway (1871)
- Boecklin: Roger and Angelica (1871-74)
- The Captive Mother (1869) by Stephan Sinding
- Hippolyte Delaroche: The Young Martyr (A Christian Martyr Drowned in the Tiber During the Reign of Diocletian) (1855)
- Le génie du mal (1848) by Belgian artist Guillaume Geefs
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