We are not born with an irrational fear of the nude body, it is something that has been wrongfully ingrained into us by society. We are taught it.
–D. Keith Furon
What is art? What is pornography? What constitutes indecency? These are questions that are not easily answered and have been of debate for ages. Is Michael Angelo's nude statue of David pornography? Hardly! Is is a nude male form? Yes! So what makes it art and not pornography? How do you define what pornography is? Not so easy huh?
Read the article below...it does a great job of debating just this issue!
"When the topic of fine art nudes comes up, the subject of pornography often comes up as well. Different people have different views on things, and I have always respected the right of each person to have his or her own view. What I resent is when someone tries to impose their views on others, or tries to classify one thing as bad simply because they don’t appreciate or understand it.
I have always been at a loss as to why so many people blend nudity into pornography, de facto. Many people believe that any nude depiction is pornographic. What pornography "is" is largely a subjective matter. It all depends on the intent of the artist, the mind of the viewer, and how the picture is used. If it's intended and used for sexual arousal and gratification only, it is often classified as pornography. If it expands your vision and insight, lets you see or feel things that you wouldn’t have seen or felt on your own, it's Art in my opinion. On the other hand, someone once wrote: “If it's in focus, it's pornography; if it's out of focus, it's art.” Although funny, it’s probably as good a distinction as any since it’s virtually impossible to accurately define pornography.
Actually, I think its a matter of having respect for the subject. All fine art images are sensually stimulating, whether they include a nude form or not; they represent an individual artist's ideal. To say that something like Botticelli's Venus is devoid of sensual or sexual content is ridiculous. What matters, however, is how the artist portray’s the subject and how the viewer responds to that sensual message. Fine art or erotic nudes may have a sensual or sexual tone, but not in the casual or disposable way that pornographic images do. But there is something about a successful fine art nude image that humbles the viewer; the sheer beauty of the subject commands respect. Pornographic images do not have this effect; there is something about them that is inherently cheap and disposable.
Defining pornography is about control...it is just another censorship issue. Throughout history the works of many fine artists and writers have been "banned" or prohibited. We all know the names. Lawrence, Joyce, Mapelthorpe, Sturges, Hamilton, etc. As with art, pornography is also in the eye of the beholder, if you want to see an image as pornographic, then it is pornographic. I have found that, “pornography” is a word most often used by those who have an irrational fear of sexuality, and how to express it. A fear that also extends to excluding works from association with another misunderstood word: “art.” I believe that if it is something that offends you...don't look at it (or don't read it).
The distinction between images that exploit and ones that don't, is a good one. But using such an ill-defined word as "pornography" to label work is not.
On the other hand, it could be argued that pornography is fine. It is, what it is. The term has been awarded a critical, negative meaning by some. But it is honest at least. There is nothing wrong with pornography because it is not pretentious. It’s very honesty is what justifies it, unlike most of those who criticize it.
Fine art on the other hand is always in danger of being pretentious, and there are a lot of awful nudes out there. Pornography should never pretend to be something it isn't in order to justify itself. I abhor tacky nudes that claim to be fine art. Unfortunately a lot of attempts at fine art nudes are just tacky, and reveal the narrowness of the artist’s vision.
But I find the notion that nudity is synonymous with pornography to be very amusing. Especially since (by the common definition) the image of a naked person doesn’t need to be involved in order to create a pornographic image. Think about it, a person can be fully clothed and still be engaging in pornography. Pornography is an act, an intent, not a state of dress. It is a mindset, and weather the subject is nude or not, does not make it pornogprhy nor does it eliminate it from being pornography.
What truly worries me is that many people who have not been exposed to different levels of art (which employ the nude as a subject in it’s storytelling) often have difficulty separating art and pornography, in their mind and in their spirit. And society, religion, the courts and politicians have helped to keep the lines blurred. What results is the naïve categorization that all nudity as immoral, indelicate and exploitative. After all, it’s far easier to lump everything into one box, than to attend to the intent of individual artistic expression.
Photographing the nude form is considered vulgar and distasteful to many. I once saw a letter written by Dennis Holloway, CEO of Mothers Polishes Waxes Cleaners (not to be confused with Dennis Holloway the famous architect), who described me as a person who "...took photographs of filth and sold them as art." He went on further to write that I "...partake in distasteful and immoral acts."
I find the idea that the nude form is filth, immoral or vulgar rather odd, because the nude has served as inspiration for many famous artists –in all genres– since the beginning of human history. If we were to do away with nude images in art, we will have to throw out many of our Monet’s, Renoir’s, Sisley’s, Degas’, Cezanne’s and Van Gogh’s just to mention a few.
Forcibly suppressing access to the nude form in art can’t achieve anything except stunted and repressed minds and attitudes. It prevents people from learning crucial lessons about art, interpretation, taste and personal perception." --D. Keith Furon
The artwork depicted below is of the nude male form. Each photograph shows just that, a male nude depicted in an artistic way. Some of them are sensual or erotic in nature, some of them are benign. You be the judge....is it art...or is it pornography? Give me your opinion....and enjoy the artwork below.