Drawing the Line: Art versus Pornography  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Drawing the Line: Art versus Pornography"[1] (2011) is a text by Hans Maes. This text was revised and augmented in "Who Says Pornography Can't be Art?"[2] (2012) published in Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays (2012).

"In his authoritative study The Erotic Arts Peter Webb states firmly that ‘there is a clear dividing line between art and pornography’ (2) – a claim that was repeated more recently in Alyce Mahon’s Eroticism & Art (14) and Marina Wallace, Martin Kemp and Joanne Bernstein’s Seduced: Art & Sex from Antiquity to Now (15). These art historians assume ,almost as a matter of course, that pornography and art, unlike eroticism and art, are incompatible. But are there good philosophical grounds for this assumption? What is it, really,that distinguishes art from pornography? This essay presents an overview of the philosophical debate surrounding this issue."

Maes's counterexamples:

First, there are many works of pornography that actually possess the features exclusively ascribed to art in the list above. Examples that come to mind are films like All About Anna, made by Lars von Trier’s production company Zentropa, Molly Kiely’s graphic novel That Kind of Girl, or Dirty Diaries, a collection of Swedish movie shorts. All three belong to the rapidly growing subgenre of ‘female friendly pornography’ (or as the filmmakers of Dirty Diaries would have it, ‘feminist pornography’).

See also

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