Poster Sex by Martin Sharp and King Kong
About SEX (King Kong)
SEX is a psychedelic art piece created by Martin Sharp in 1967. It is screenprint, printed in black, blue and pink ink from three stencils, on silver foil laminated paper. In his blog, King Kong and the Birdman, Michael Organ writes that “Max ‘the Birdman’ Ernst and SEX! (King Kong) – date from 1967 and reflect an in-depth knowledge of Dada and Surrealism, with special reference to German artist Max Ernst, alchemy and the themes of anarchy, desire and freedom of expression.”
The SEX poster depicts a large keyhole shape filled by the image of a large ape abducting a half naked, large-breasted black native woman. The images of the ape and the woman are colored a hot pink on top of a bright blue background. The keyhole shape is surrounded by a newsprint type border with floral drawings. The poster is startling on first view, an emotion evoked by the bright, contrasting colors and the violent depiction of the ape abducting the half-naked woman, the implication being that the ape is taking the woman away to rape her. The images of the ape and the native woman are reminiscent of the 1937 film King Kong, which was based on the book King Kong by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar.
Background Information and Symbolism About SEX
Martin Sharp’s psychedelic rock posters reflected the fashion, art, music, and sexual mores of the mid to late 1960s. It was the era of the birth control pill, free love, psychedelic drug use, and rock and roll. There was a new attitude toward sex, one that sought to eliminate the morality-laden rules of previous generations and encouraged both men and women to explore the new sexual freedom. In his blog, Michael Organ goes on to say that “Sex was a significant part of the swinging London scene during the years 1966-68, and Martin Sharp was an active participant and the poster SEX was a public expression of that.”
The Sex poster with the image of the violent ape creature veers away from the feminist concept of sexual freedom for women. Instead it depicts the darker, dominant, predatory nature of sex in a man’s world where men still dominated women for their own pleasure. This is a departure from other works by Sharp that depict a positive, artistic, modern view of the 1960s counterculture in which Sharp existed at the time.
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