I’m a big fan of good art that reflects BDSM in one way or the other. When I say art then I’m referring to something that goes beyond the pornographic expression – Not that I don’t like BDSM porn, but to be honest; porn is good fun, but it’s also made with easy consumption in mind.

BDSM art is, to me, something that leaves a long lasting impression. Porn can of course leave an impression as well, but it’s usually not a lasting one. When I refer to something that could be defined as art then I’m also talking about something that moves you on an emotional level, something that might make you see things in a different way.

Robert Bishop’s BDSM drawings is something that I define to be BDSM art.

Robert K. Bishop was born in 1945 in Michigan and he has been compared with John Willie and described as the Rembrandt of bondage art.

Most of Bishop’s art appeared in magazines and catalogues from 1971 to the 1980s. By the mid-1990s, Bishop’s art had long been out of print. The originals had largely been lost or destroyed. Even a partial reprinting in 1992-1993 was based on previously published copies.

Hunter Rose, in 1995 to 1996, made scans from his own personal magazine collection and materials loaned to him by many others. His set of 1254 images, which are believed to be the complete collection of all available Bishop art, were regularly posted to usenet newsgroups so that Bishop’s work could be preserved and appreciated.

His work has been published extensively in bondage magazines, especially those of Centurions Publications and the bondage publisher House of Milan. His work was known for being very detailed and vivid.

His main theme was extremely tight and reinforced bondage that showed its subject straining against their restraints, often as part of a predicament bondage. The bondage depicted often involved elaborate harnesses and gags designed by Bishop.

Bishop’s illustrations were mostly in black and white pen and ink, with spot use of airbrushing for shading. His work makes much play with the contrast between pale skin and black restraints and latex garments, and with the use of shading to imply shiny rubber textures and musculature. His color illustrations were mostly for magazine covers, due to the economic constraints of bondage magazine production. He also drew in a softer pencil style, with subtle use of pencil shading. His style has also been borrowed by other adult comic creators as a homage to his extensive work.

Although almost all of his work depicted women in bondage, he also produced some series of female dominant images, and a few male bondage images, some of which are now displayed at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

He also illustrated a series of novels by F. E. Campbell with pencil drawings produced under the pseudonym “Ashely”. Bishop also produced the Fanni Hall series of damsel-in-distress bondage comics.

In addition to his many illustrations in bondage magazines, his art was showcased in a number of dedicated magazines published by House of Milan and Lyndon Distributors Limited.

Bishop committed suicide at the age of 46 in 1991.

I really enjoy the illustrations that Bishop made and the feeling they communicate. The women are expressing a fear mixed with expectation – There isn’t a clear struggle expressed which, to me, represents the dualistic nature of BDSM – The fear that esteems from the predicament that the women are put in but at the same time the forbidden arousal and enjoyment they get from being in the specific situation.

The sexual element is also ever present which adds to the feeling that we are allowed to watch something forbidden РFear, sex, power and predicament put together  in one arousing mix of humiliating experiences to the subjects depicted in the illustrations.

The interesting part is that even if the Bishop’s illustrations are explicit by nature I don’t find them to be pornographic. The fact that they are drawn and not photographic is something that, to me, works as a filter which makes the images more of a representation of a fantasy rather than a realistic one.

It is evident that some of his art is made in the early seventies if you look at the style employed in the illustrations, a style that I’m usually not very fond of – But my feeling is different when I look at Bishop’s art. His illustrations are timeless in a sense, even if the style of the seventies is clearly expressed in some of them, they withstand the time that has passed since they were made.

This proves that the body of work that Bishop left behind is timeless and his legacy is the mark of a very talented artist.

He left behind something for us all to treasure and appreciate.

 

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5 Responses to The Bondage Art of Robert Bishop

  1. Jeff says:

    I have regrettably lost a treasured magazine that encompassed alot of his work. On the very back page of the publication is a drawing that can only be explained as " Sold". This image is of a lovely woman tied and kneeling looking over her shoulder ( I think ) with a label of "sold" on her buttocks. I want that image and to be perfectly honest the issue name and number I am missing so that I may rebuy it or bid for it. Please help. whiskyman4@hotmail.com

  2. Jeffrey D. Evans says:

    Was working in an adult bookstore in 1976 when I first discovered artwork of the Bishop, and couldn’t believe it. He was truly “the Rembrandt of bondage art” (I’d call him “the Dali”, too!) & he spurred the start of my art collection. Congratulations on his success….I’m sure it must be a difficult field to make a mark in (unless perhaps you’re Japanese) and he did very well!!

  3. MIMI says:

    Hi im really new to this BDSM art. I just came into 12 pieces of Robert Bishops original art work. I wanted them to go to someone who would really appreciate having them let me know if interested and i will send you pics of what i have

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