10 Questions for Dr. Ruth on Erotic Art for Her Talk at the MFAH

The MFAH has always done an excellent job at getting top artists and critics to come speak during its many lecture series. One such series the museum is now hosting is titled "Conversations with the Director," in which MFAH's Director, Gary Tinterow, talks about art-related topics such as the state of current collections and the museum. Many such conversations can be viewed online.

But every once in a while, MFAH brings someone on board who "makes you go hmmm..." For example, it was just announced that on June 4, Mr. Tinterow will have a lovely old chat with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who, yes, is still alive.

Dr. Ruth, as she is more commonly known, is a therapist who focuses on sexuality and human sociology, and she has a very distinct German accent and a tiny frame. She's known for her candid and often amusing take on sex, and has been prominent in the media for years. She is probably the most well-known sex therapist, some of that having to do with the "her?" aspect of her physical appearance. She's a little old lady and has been her whole life, and it's gross to think about her having sex at all.

What in the world is she going to talk about with Tinterow, whose current web vlogs are about things such as the "Google Art Project," which I can't imagine can be tied to sex. Dr. Ruth did pen a book back in 1993 titled The Art of Arousal: A Celebration of Erotic Art Throughout History, which we assume will be the cornerstone of their conversation. Adding bizarreness to the bizarre is that the project is funded presented by Louis Vuitton, so it's fashion and sex and art all rolled up into one potentially awkward evening. Luckily, a reception follows the lecture, so people can stand around eating canapés not talking about sex but rather about how oppressive the heat was the other night at the Rothko.

If you were to go to this event, what questions might you want Tinterow to discuss with Dr. Ruth? I've got ten.

10. Who is hotter: Michelangelo's statue of David or "The Thinker?"

9. Is it weird to get turned on by the "Venus de Milo" based solely on the fact that she has no arms?

8. Let's get this figured out now and forever: Are Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings really vaginas or what?

7. Would you assume that someone had once used Duchamp's urinal for the purpose of urinating, and do you think that's gross? I do.

6. Do you think Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera ever did it in a vat of paint? Just curious.

5. Did you read 50 Shades of Grey? I know that's not art-related, but you read it just to see what the hype was all about, correct? Tell me you thought it was as bad as I did. You did? I thought so.

4. Why is it okay, in fourteenth and fifteenth century paintings of Adam and Eve and the Original Sin, that Eve can let her boobs hang out but she has to cover her lady parts with a fig leaf? That seems somewhat hypocritical.

3. Peter Fendi's stuff is pretty dirty. That's not a question; I'm just saying. Or discuss that if you want to take it as a question.

2. What would you consider contemporary erotic art to be given our culture's lax attitude toward sexual content, and do you think that there is still a school of erotic art?

1. Fetish art is weird, right? Not judging or anything,'s weird.

"Conversations with the Director" Dr. Ruth Westheimer Talks with MFAH Director Gary Tinterow, June 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig