Art and Pornography (review of 'Contemplating Art')  

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"If Contemplating Art allows one to look for common strands, it also allows one to check for inconsistencies between essays or subtle tensions. In the remainder of this essay I want to draw attention to one such tension. I will argue more specifically that some of the claims in “Erotic Art and Pornographic Pictures” do not fit well with ideas expressed elsewhere in Contemplating Art."[1]

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

"Art and Pornography (review of 'Contemplating Art')" (Journal of Aesthetic Education 43 (2009): 107-116) is a review by Hans Maes of Contemplating Art by Jerrold Levinson.

Maes opinions that Levinson has moved from his own very broad extensionally adequate definition of art (first developed in "Defining Art Historically") to a less extensional one in order to prove that art and porn are mutually exclusive.

The Tarantino example

But if this is possible for the horror and kung fu genre, then why not for pornography? In fact, Quentin Tarantino has said in the past that he would like to direct a porn movie. If he ever decides to go through with this, and if the result is as “Tarantinesque” as the rest of his oeuvre, we have every reason to suspect that the film will be received in radically different ways by different audiences and will be regarded as film art and pornography at the same time. (It would be the kind of “artistic blue movie” that Pauline Kael once dreamt of: “talented directors taking over from the Schlockmeisters and making sophisticated voyeuristic fantasies that would be gorgeous fun—a real turn-on.”[Pauline Kael reviewing Last Tango in Paris])"[2]

The 'Saving Private Ryan' example

"Take the famous opening scenes of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which show the landing of allied forces on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Seeing the film for the first time really gives the viewer the feeling of being an eyewitness to the events [through] point of view shots, the shaky, handheld camera, the CGI to evoke bullets and shrapnel flying around, the impressive sound effects—all ... [the] film that invites the audience to respond in radically different ways at different times" Maes at issue with Levinson's opaqueness/transparency theory which argues that art is opaque and pornography is transparent."

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