Pornographic art  

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"False judgments enter art history if we judge from the impression which pictures of different epochs, placed side by side, make on us.... They speak a different language." --Principles of Art History

"Jerrold Levinson and Hans Maes have been in the very centre of the discussion, holding opposite views on whether pornography can be art. In the introduction they point out that pornography's bad reputation is largely responsible for the lack of interest aestheticians showed it in the past. It seems that even if there are some pornographic works which are aesthetically rewarding, and there is some art that flirts with porn, they are very rare. Philosophers of art only recently started asking why the overlap is so small, but once the discussion started it seemed to grow in popularity every day, and it`s good to see some of its main topics explored more in depth in a book"[1] --Simon Fokt

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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.

In her 1967 essay "The Pornographic Imagination", Susan Sontag argued that certain works of literature considered pornography need to be acknowledged as works of literary merit, famously stating that "Pierre Louys' Trois filles de leur mère, George Bataille's Histoire de l'Oeil and Madame Edwarda, the pseudonymous Story of O and The Image belong to literature."

When Sontag wrote those words, the notion of the respectability of erotic literature was beginning to be established, but the notion of pornographic literature being just as respectable was new. The use of the word pornography coupled with positive attributes was unheard of.

This was at the height of the sexual revolution but also at the beginning of the mingling of high and low culture, what would come to be termed nobrow in postmodern times.

Tellingly, the Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausens mention in their book The Complete Book of Erotic Art(?) how one day, they witnessed the transformation from pornography to art:

"We had occasion, in fact, to watch the transformation of pornography into art before our own eyes when Hans Bellmer one day worked in our presence, making a complicated and highly erotic engraving from a series of common pornographic photographs."

In the seventies there was the porno chic era, in the eighties there was Robert Mapplethorpe, in the nineties Jeff Koons's "Made in Heaven" (1990–91) series and at the turn of the 21st century there was the New French Extremity in cinema and John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage in painting.

The academic study of pornography began in 1989 with the publication of Hard Core: Power, Pleasure (1989) by Linda Williams. Most recently, the topic whether pornography can be art was taken up in the porn/art debate in which Hans Maes (with Matthew Kieran, David Davies, Andrew Kania) claims that porn can be art and Jerrold Levinson (with Uidhir) claiming that it can't.





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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pornographic art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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