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Sexuality is polymorphous. It has to be. This is because — rightly or wrongly — it often faces rigid repressive structures that it can only outflank by changing its forms and pouring its energy in new directions.

Sigmund Freud wrote about artistic creation as the sublimation of sexual drives into forms far removed from their original motive power. But art has also provided a convenient license to those who didn’t want to sublimate their sexuality, choosing instead to parade it beneath the thinnest of veneers. Even in what we consider the prudish Victorian era, artists could get away with salacious, full-frontal nudity — as long as they gave it a pleasant classical or mythical name.

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