Young girl defending herself against love by William-Adolfe Bouguereau 1825 – 1905
Sometimes I asked myself what is erotic art and what is modern porn. What distinguishes between the two forms of expressions? The distinction between these two is widely debated but hardly agreed upon. I noticed that the difference in opinion basically depends on aesthetic, personal moral and religious values of the people looking at it.
Let us first define what art is and what is erotic art, this will help us to understand this form of expression. Art is the expression of creative skill and imagination in visual form that stimulates the senses or emotions.
It encompasses painting, sculpture, music, poetry and architecture. While decorative arts include weaving, pottery, metalworking and furniture making.
Erotic Pottery at Larco Museum, Lima Peru
Erotic art was derived from the Greek word “eros” meaning love or passion. This form of art has a sexual theme that elicits sexual feelings or desires but also stirs other emotion. It is both sexually arousing and intellectually stimulating. It captures individuality, subjectivity and the whole personality of the person being represented. Erotic art had been around for ages, the earliest erotic art was found on cave walls. Ancient people used their surroundings to express erotic artworks. People in different parts of the world used potteries, weaving, painting, sculpture, furniture, photography and print to express erotic art.
The term pornography was derived from two Greek words “porne” meaning harlot or prostitute and “graphos” which refers to writing. In simple words pornography is writing about prostitutes. Modern pornography is much more than stories about prostitutes. It includes writings, images, print, films and digital media like the internet, phone sex, and video sex. Modern porn today is more like salacious writing or pictures for the purpose of sexual excitement and erotic satisfaction.
Erotic art vs. modern porn what is the real difference? Both of them elicit sexual feelings. The perception and appreciation of beauty or aesthetics is subjective, it lies on the observer. Erotic art whether drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, lithography, photography or film captures the beauty of the human anatomy. It is also evocative but it does not exclusively appeal to the sexual appetite. Pornography on the other hand does not engage the aesthetic sense because it leaves nothing to the imagination. It bares everything, the main purpose is to titillate and elicit intense sexual arousal.
The kind of response from observer of erotic art and modern porn is also different. Erotic art stirs the senses not just sexual. It expresses affection, love, caring and adoration. It lets the viewer experience sensual delights of a higher order. Pornography appeals to the carnal instincts. The portrayal of human flesh is calculated to heighten sexual allure and aims to give immediate sexual release.
Erotic artist pursue this form because of beauty. The end product might sell for a price, but the basic goal of the artist is to transmit what they feel is ethereal sensuality. Porn artists work for monetary value and aesthetics is just a secondary consideration. Pornography is produced to make the largest profit possible.
The Garden of Earthly Delights, an erotic triptych by Hieronymous Bosch 1450 – 1516