British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (4):469-488 (2018)

Authors
A. W. Eaton
University of Illinois, Chicago
Abstract
How, if at all, are we to distinguish between the works that we call ‘art’ and those that we call ‘pornography’? This question gets a grip because from classical Greek vases and the frescoes of Pompeii to Renaissance mythological painting and sculpture to Modernist prints, the European artistic tradition is chock-full of art that looks a lot like pornography. In this paper I propose a way of thinking about the distinction that is grounded in art historical considerations regarding the function of erotic images in 16 th -century Italy. This exploration suggests that the root of the erotic art/pornography distinction was—at least in this context—class: in particular, the need for a special category of unsanctioned illicit images arose at the very time when print culture was beginning to threaten elite privilege. What made an erotic representation exceed the boundaries of acceptability, I suggest, was not its extreme libidinosity but, rather, its widespread availability and, thereby, its threat to one of the mechanisms of sustaining class privilege.
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayy023
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References found in this work BETA

Erotic Art and Pornographic Pictures.Jerrold Levinson - 2005 - Philosophy and Literature 29 (1):228-240.
Pornographic Art.Matthew Kieran - 2001 - Philosophy and Literature 25 (1):31-45.

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