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Leda now, still with swan

There are no facts to transcend in the tale of Leda and the Swan. There is only a sea of sliding signifiers. They touch without landing on power, sexual hunger, fertility, violation and cunning. With such a range of meanings in play, why did artists so long lean on the soft porn angle? Beginning in the 20th century, they were less inclined to do so.

Frank V. Hoffman in Chicago envisioned a dance, both parties flaunting their power, image undated but probably from the 1930s.


Cy Twombly found the root of generative force in his Leda, from 1961.

cytwomblyleda.jpgMore abstraction: Monroe Hodder, Leda  Meets the Swan and Likes Him, 2009

monroehodderleda.jpgSatire works. Andy Titcomb in the 1990s, designed by Tim Mitchinson. 

andytitcombleda.jpgBob Kessel gave Art Deco a militaristic edge, from 2009.
bobkesselleda.jpgSidney Nolan‘s encounter between the celebrated pair looks like an intellectual salon, undated.
sidneynolanleda.jpgMichael Spafford painted not erotica but tragedy, 1997 and 1996.

michaelspaffordleda.jpgmichaelspaffordleda2.jpgBoth girl and god are broken and dead in Wim Botha‘s sculpture from 2005, made of bonemeal, marble and epoxy resin suspended from the ceiling by bright orange straps. Only shadows comingle.

wimbothaleda.jpgAmy Stein is one of the few woman to essay the theme. In her photo, the threat is gone, but uneasiness lingers in the potential victim.



  1. I hate that story. Rape is rape.

  2. Find me a swan that has done the dastardly deed, and I’ll join you in its denunciation.

  3. very nice entry – the scope with one classical reference and many interpretations/intentions. And I hadn’t seen Wim Botha – I will look him up. Nicely done

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