Why do people compare art and pornography? Can pornography be considered as art? Some think that these two terms are mutually exclusive. Others, however, believe that pornography can never become a pure art form. Why is that so, and is there a way to think of porn as art? Let’s find out!
What is Art?
Generally, porn is commercial, and people watch it to get off, masturbate, or enjoy it with their partner. It depicts sexually explicit acts, including obscene fetishes, for sexual arousal. Plus, with animation and VR technology development, it can even portray acts that are just not humanly possible.
But if you are wondering if it can be an art form, you could run into some confusion. The lines between art, erotic art, and pornography are unclear. Nevertheless, the question is undoubtedly valid. Some scholars believe that even the most famous artworks are some type of porn. Conversely, some pornography has managed to transcend into high art.
Let’s turn to Shunga as an excellent example of this. The term refers to Japanese woodblock art that was incredibly popular during the Edo era (1600–1800). It portrayed graphical acts of sex, including anal and vaginal penetration. Shunga started as pornography but transitioned into fine art. Most pieces, especially by Hokusai, are priceless today. With that in mind, it’s possible that all pornographic films made during our current “Pornhub era” could transition into art in a few hundred years.
Why Are Erotic Paintings Considered Art?
One of the best ways to understand pornography as an art form is to look into erotic art, a recognized art form. It can depict sexual acts with artistic value. It can also simultaneously create feelings of arousal in the spectator. While an erotic art exhibit might arouse some audience members, others could just admire the pieces for their artistic qualities. That’s why erotic paintings, photos, and other works differ from sexually-themed works that have been around since ancient times.
A fantastic example of this is the Baulé fertility statues. They depict nude models but only as a way of encouraging fertility. With erotic art, the goal is to encourage arousal while offering artistic value. And that is precisely why nobody classifies most porn as art. Its creators did not focus on artistic intention or creative expression while making it. Erotic artists purposefully create their work with aesthetic purposes. Conversely, the art world does not widely accept pornography as a part of it.
For instance, erotic photography can still depict many acts in great detail. That includes penetration, BDSM, men ejaculating on women, etc. Whether or not it creates a sexual response in the spectator is purely subjective. As mentioned, the spectator can also view those photographs from an artistic perspective. They can enjoy their beauty, technical skill, and concept of the work. On the other hand, people usually associate porn with obscenity, sexism, and even addiction. That is because most of it exists solely to please others.
How About Pornography?
From a purely objective point of view, porn can be considered an art form.
That is particularly true if you take an “eye of the beholder” or “I know when I see it” approach. It’s also indisputable that the verdict depends on the individual. That is why mainstream arguments against porn being an art form often fail and can entirely miss the purpose of art. Our Shunnga example has shown that even if pornography makers are not in it to create art, their works could morph into it.
Also, a lot of it can depend on the artistic qualities you can find in porn. If you were to make porn for artistic purposes, you could undoubtedly call yourself an artist. And if not, think about the skill, effort, and talent that goes into it. In some cases, the production and the performance aspects match the effort and knowledge required for any other traditional art. But, as always with art, there is a catch.
Do Porn Films Have a Chance to Be Considered as Art?
As stated earlier, many accept some erotic films as art. There are a ton of erotic feature films with captivating scripts, plots, and performances. However, they are not a form of pornography. On the other hand, you can also categorize mainstream porn with artistic purpose and qualities as art. That depends on the goal of the creators and the perception of the spectator.
Unfortunately, it looks like mainstream porn movies will not make it into a popular exhibition or a museum anytime soon. Also, there’s hardly any chance that the art world will praise the stars like Adriana Chechik, Ava Addams, or Johnny Sins for their revolutionary performances.
The reason is that the only purpose of the movies the adult industry makes is to arouse, which prevents them from being classified as art. If you make a porn movie without artistic merit and value, you cannot call it art. But, as we’ve said before, all of that depends on your perception. And since art fluctuates, those boundaries could change with time. The truth is that no one truly knows will happen with art or if humanity will praise pornography as a type of high art in the centuries to follow.
The Bottom Line
It’s interesting to investigate the debate between art and pornography. It can raise even more questions about the purpose of art than ever. Also, the answers can change our understanding of sex and pornography. What’s your opinion?
Check out some erotic art and compare it to porn movies to see if this distinction is enough. And if you agree that porn is art, then, by all means, it’s time to do some spectating!