With their creative director as a curator, Saint Laurent brought back and paid tribute to Madonna’s iconic “Sex” book during this year’s edition of Art Basel Miami, in an exhibition of photos selected by the queen of pop herself.
A book of nude pictures by Madonna may not seem as controversial or surprising now as it did when “Sex” first came out in 1992. At that moment, the book displayed a concept where pleasure was manifested in many possible ways, going far beyond nudity.
We attended the event during our visit to Art Basel and had an eye-opening experience. We entered a beautifully architected pop-up gallery, architected by Mazarine, located at walking distance of Miami Beach’s eastern beachside view. The atmosphere was very intimate, and although the protection of the space and pieces was paramount, it still made everyone feel free to explore and interact within the space. It was as if we were entering Madonna’s personal gallery, showing her most personal and risque self. The photos were bold, tasteful, elegant, and empowering.
Through this exhibition, it was clear to see how spaces like this bring light to the legacy of an artist of Madonna’s importance, a legacy that is all but limited to her music and has permeated pop imagery, with her face appearing throughout the years in all kinds of productions. Few people within the music industry have the courage to risk their brands and push limitations in the way that Madonna has throughout her entire career by embracing her own underground creativity, sexuality, and uniqueness.
“Sex” is an avant-garde book that, three decades later, has come back to remind us of the importance of confronting stereotypes and that has challenged all limits and societal impositions regarding femininity, sensuality, and the overall female presence within the music industry, paving the way for many of the artists we love and enjoy today.
The original book was published in 1992 by Warner Books with Callaway Books and Maverick and contained a series of photos taken by photographer Steve Meisel where Madonna performed as the main model, alongside the single for “Erotica”, coming all together for the launch of the whole “Erotica” album. Through this project, Meisel and Madonna set on a journey that explored beauty, liberty, erotism, and youth itself. It questioned feminism, its stance at that time, and the concept of hegemonic beauty through nude photography.
As visitors and art enthusiasts, we loved experiencing such a one-of-a-kind exhibition during Art Basel week. The conversation on art permeates many (if not all) creative industries, and in the case of “Sex” by Madonna, it shows the importance of going beyond societal limits and revolutionizing through all forms of creative work.
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