A Secret History of the Pissing Figure in Art

[Via The New Yorker] What happened? Whither urine? Looking through the centuries, the modern observer can’t help but sense some uric conspiracy, a secret society of piss disclosed to modern man only in dribbles and drabs. It’s no accident that so many pissing putti, from their earliest days, appeared at bacchanals, foisting their “little members”—a favorite phrase of Lebensztejn’s—in sprawling, tawdry scenes, lousy with musicians and revellers. It’s as if life then were an endless party, a riot of fluids and fun where every jet, spurt, torrent, and dribble had its place and people were comfortable in their skins. Our forebears knew something that we don’t. They could laugh at what was holy to them. They could regard piss, through some parallax, as a symbol of both purity and Rabelaisian excess. Read the full article.