Flesh from the Butcher  

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"When Manet famously painted the boulevardienne of nineteenth-century Paris in the pose of a Titian Venus, his intention was not to present her body as a sexual object, but to reveal another and more hardened kind of subjectivity. The hand on the thigh of Manet’s Olympia is not the hand that Titian paints, schooled in innocent caresses and resting with a fairy touch: it is a raw, tough hand that deals in money, that grips far more readily than it strokes, and which is used to fend off cheats, nerds and perverts." --"Flesh from the Butcher"

"The post-Renaissance rehabilitation of sexual desire laid the foundations for a genuinely erotic art, an art that would display the human being as both subject and object of desire, but also as a free individual whose desire is a favour consciously bestowed. This you find in Boucher’s early work, and in particular in the famous, indeed notorious “Hercules and Omphale”, a vision – to the Platonist – of Aphrodite Pandemos (Venus Naturalis) at work, but to the natural philosopher of the Enlightenment a vision of men and women as they are. Such a work of art might lead us to raise what has become, to my mind, one of the most important questions confronting art and the criticism of art in our time: that of the difference, if there is one, between erotic art and pornography. In distinguishing the erotic and the pornographic, it seems to me, we are really distinguishing two kinds of interest: interest in the sexual subject and interest in the sexual object." --"Flesh from the Butcher" [editor's emphasis]

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Flesh from the Butcher: How to Distinguish Eroticism from Pornography" (2005) is a text by Roger Scruton which examens the relation between erotic art and pornography.

Scruton wrote the text on the occasion of the Boucher: Seductive Visions exhibition at the Wallace Collection (30th September, 2004 - Sunday 17th April, 2005)

The text was published in The Times Literary Supplement in April 2005, it was a slightly edited version of the lecture given at the Wallace Collection the previous month, concluding the series of TLS lectures on Boucher and his background.



Scruton, Roger. "Flesh from the Butcher: how to distinguish eroticism from pornography." TLS. Times Literary Supplement, no. 5324, 2005, pp. 11-13.

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