Contemporary art may be most accessible when it explores aspects of human reality we all have in common. With its single-word title, DESIRE, currently ongoing at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, announces itself as a show with a theme that everyone can relate to.

Marilyn Minter, “Crystal Swallow”

That’s not to say the subject–and the art–may not elicit many different and sometimes conflicting interpretations. The realm of desire, after all, encompasses a broad psychological landscape replete with many different emotions–from longing to arousal to jealousy and regret.

DESIRE, which opened February 5 and runs through April 25, features over 50 works by an international contingent of contemporary visual artists working in a variety of media.

The works on display investigate and respond to notions of desire in all its many emotional and cultural configurations.  In doing so they often transform and make public the ephemeral, interior and intimate nature desire, in sometimes startling ways.

Valeska Soares, “Duet”, 2008. Hand-carved white marble

Most of the work is not new, but Desire brings together an impressive collection of artists. Included are figures such as Marilyn Minter and Tracey Emin, who have long explored themes of glamour, sexuality and desire in their work.

Other prominent names include Glenn Ligon, Bill Viola, Petah Coyne, Danica Phelps, Valeska Soares, Olaf Breuning, Kalup Linzy, Georganne Deen, Adam Pendleton and Rochelle Feinstein.

Works by these artists and over a dozen others provide a diverse and multi-generational sampling of the art of desire.

Bill Viola, “Becoming Light”, 2005
Tracey Emin, “You Should Have Loved Me”, 2008

Olaf Breuning, “Brian”, 2008