Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching  

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This page Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching is part of the medium specificity series.  Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
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This page Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching is part of the medium specificity series.
Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) by Kelly Dennis is a book on the difference between pornography and erotica and the antithesis of seeing and touching.

Excerpt:

"We can now see that the “sister arts,” the paragone, the hierarchy of genres, and even ekphrasis are all rooted in an opposition between word and image, between an acceptable literary pictorialism and a less acceptable pictorial literacy."

From the publisher

"Do we really know pornography when we see it? Pornography is condemned for being "too close" whilst erotica is defended as "leaving room for the imagination." And the art of the nude is treated as something much more special, located even further away from the potential of arousal.

Art/Porn argues that these distinctions are based on an age-old antithesis between sight and touch, an antithesis created and maintained for centuries by art criticism. Art has always elicited a struggle between the senses, between something to be viewed and something to be touched, between visual and visceral pleasure.

Images compel the senses in ways that are both taboo and intrinsic to art. Contemporary responses to images of the nude embody this longstanding tension. Our fears about the materiality of art when in close proximity to our own bodies exist alongside a regulation of sensory response which dates back to Antiquity.

Art/Porn reveals how - from fondling statues in Antiquity to point-and-click Internet pornography - the worlds of art and pornography are much closer than we think.

Cover image

On the cover is one panel from the Every Playboy centerfold, by decade by Jason Salavon.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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