First-ever auction of these contentious images from Madonna “Sex” art book.
This autumn, as part of ongoing initiatives to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the
contentious book, prints of photos from Madonna immensely successful 1992 coffee table book
“Sex” will be offered for sale at Christie’s New York for the first time.
In an exclusive solo auction, more than 40 prints that were previously released in “Sex” will be
offered for sale in October. According to Darius Himes, Christie’s vice chairman and worldwide
head of pictures, each print will be an edition of one and signed by Madonna and fashion
photographer Steven Meisel, who photographed the book, with values ranging from $50,000 on
the low end to $300,000. A portion of the revenue will go to Raising Malawi, a charity that
Madonna established in 2006 to aid orphans and vulnerable children in the nation of Malawi in
Despite being published thirty years ago, Himes noted that “Sex” still reads as a highly body- and
sex-positive book. “It was both shocking and titillating and captured so much of the white-hot
energy that was coming off of Madonna in the early 1990s.”
Early in the 1990s
There was a huge uproar when the book “Sex,” which was issued alongside the
pop star’s fifth album “Erotica,” was published. In the book, there were images of Madonna and
others engaging in mock sexual activity. Along with celebrities like socialite Tatiana von
Fürstenberg and supermodel Naomi Campbell, “Sex” also included Madonna’s ex, rapper Vanilla
Ice. The Vatican advised its adherents to refrain from buying the book, which was outlawed in
places like Ireland and Japan. Nevertheless, “Sex” quickly became a financial success, selling more
than 1.5 million copies.
The images offered in the October auction were chosen by Madonna, Meisel, and Saint Laurent’s
creative director Anthony Vaccarello. Last year, Saint Laurent produced a second, limited edition
run of “Sex” in Miami to coincide with Art Basel in Miami Beach. The singer of “Like a Virgin”
signed all 800 copies, and they all sold out. A pop-up exhibition of the photos also proved to be a
Himes characterised the collection of pictures as “both playful and erotic,” noting that Meisel’s
works still look good today, even after three decades.
“The series highlights a moment in time of the pop diva and one of the greatest fashion
photographers of his day. Along with the silliness and campiness, there is a traditional naked study
activity going on. According to Himes, I believe they are relevant to all generations.
Himes points out that “Sex” was published at a time when acceptance of gay relationships in society
was still lagging, right at the height of the AIDS crisis in the US.
Madonna said in an Instagram story from October that she had paved the road for other female
artists to express their sexuality, despite facing criticism at the time for using pictures of “men
kissing men, women kissing women, and me kissing everyone.”
According to Madonna, “I spent the following years being interviewed by closed-minded
individuals who tried to shame me for empowering myself as a Woman.” “I was called a witch, a
whore, a heretic, and the devil.”
Not all of Madonna’s contentious artistic endeavours involved “Sex.” She collaborated with the
digital artist Beeple to create a series of three NFTs (non-fungible tokens) last year, which were
based on a 3D scan of the performer in her pants. The NFTs depict Madonna giving birth to various
animals, including centipedes, butterflies, and even a tree.
Madonna defended herself after receiving criticism for what some saw as a crass money grab by
stating the project just shows her performing “what women have been doing since the beginning of
time, which is giving birth.”
Madonna stated, “We’re always operating and living under the male gaze, and unfortunately
pandering to what we think people want us to do,” in a Twitter Spaces interview with Beeple in May
2022. “Creating works of art is frequently difficult, and it isn’t always pretty.”
The images will be on display before to the auction in October in Christie’s London from May 1
through June 2, then in Paris from June 27 through July 6, before travelling to New York on
September 30 and remaining there through October 6.