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Pornographic Art

By M. Kieran


"Pornographic art” is an oxymoron. At best, pornographic representations can only be bad art and, at worst, they cannot be art at all. This is the received view.1 But what underwrites such aesthetic contempt? There are three distinct lines of thought typically held to warrant the apparent truism. Purely definitional considerations are often cited as showing that pornography, as a matter of principle, cannot be artistically valuable. The purpose of sexual arousal is sometimes adduced as rendering the production of pornographic representations artistically indifferent. It is also suggested, albeit far less often, that though we may appreciate a work both as art and as pornography, we cannot do so at one and the same time, i.e. we cannot appreciate a work as pornographic art. I will show that not only is the received view without warrant but, moreover, there are works which are valuable as pornographic art

Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Year: 2001
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