Dirk Westphal is a German artist whose piece entitled ‘Acrobat on High Heels’ was the Master Award Winner in the Erotic Signatures Collection, Vol. 3. It’s an eye-catching piece: a woman nude except for ballerina shoes, her hands touching her toes, balanced on a pedestal, her hair styled in such a way to almost mirror her accentuated nipples. Highly stylized, somewhat surreal, sensuous, curvy and exotic, Acrobat is characteristic of the type of images that Westphal creates. Many have elements of bondage and kink in them, though it’s subtle enough that your average consumer of erotic art won’t find them too outrageous.
Westphal, a married father of two has been producing art for many years, he has clear opinions about the nature of erotic art, erotic art, the changing marketplace, and the prestige that comes from awards and recognitions. His experience mirrors the assertion by Mark Davis above. “I was very thrilled by winning the master prize of the Erotic Signature competition with my first attendance – but one year later I have to sum up that my economic success has [not] changed a lot,” said Westphal, a graduate of the University of Applied Science at Dortmund, Germany.
That is because, as much as appreciation for erotic art has now entered the mainstream, passion for and about sensual art hasn’t necessarily translated into consumption with the wallet.
“People gave compliments to me – the finest compliments came from the other artists – but mostly they simply want to consume erotic art for free and not pay money for an original or print.” This, despite the fact that his fine art is reasonably priced, depending on size, and whether the piece is an original or reprint.
He insists that this should not dissuade artists from participating in competitions. Westphal appreciates the exposure and advantages that come from winning awards and gaining recognition. “The prize has brought some advantages for me.” In particular, he credits it with giving him greater name recognition in the world of erotic art, and freely admits that publication is ‘very fine for the ego and raises popularity too.”
Most notably, he points out that the being selected by an esteemed panel of jurors is a “fine chapter in the artist’s vita,” because of the “seal of quality” that comes from this level of recognition. Additionally, the prize opened important doors for him. Westphal secured representation by obsessionart.com, a leading purveyor committed to the promotion and sale of high-quality erotic art.
Where will the erotic art market be in five years? Ten? Longer? There’s no clear way to predict it, but as society opens its mind to genre, and artists like Westphal continue to create pieces that are both exciting as well as tasteful, then it’s likely that the success of juried contests and the artists who participate in them will bring more art to the mainstream, and more mainstream to the artists.
Originally posted June 2, 2011