An appreciation of the human form is something that all of us have to a greater or lesser degree. We all have out preferences too in size and shape, this reflects the reality of humanity and its incredible diversity. When we look at human bodies clothed, semi-clothed or naked to appreciate them it’s art, when we look at them for pleasure it’s pornography. But there has never been a definitive line dividing the two and this vague boundary shifts whenever society’s attitudes towards nudity, sex and sensuality changes.
It is maintained by some people that the pictures and sculptures we see today and venerate as classical (or classical style) art was in fact an expensive form of pornography commissioned by the well to do so they could ogle naked human bodies while appearing to be cultured. I don’t buy that. There is plenty of far more pornographic material in the form of woodcuts and explicit lithographs that a rich aristocrat and/or his lady wife could acquire if they wanted to excite themselves.
I’m sure there were those who might commission a painting for a small fortune simply to see a pair of big tits, but they were in the minority. It’s the same today. You don’t pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for smutty artworks, you buy a dirty magazine, or more likely go online for your porn fix.
The grey boundary between art and porn still exists. Look at the two artists I featured on Himdulgence over last weekend. Yoshifumi Hayashi and Namio Harukawa both create high quality images with sexual subject matter. Each would contend that there work is art, and challenges the viewer to ponder the nature of the human beings depicted in the image. Yoshifumi Hayashi in particular produces some very challenging images that might be scene as horrifying by some, yet compelling in a macabre sort of way by others. The mix of twisted and horrific imagery and metaphors in them, mixed with overt sexuality can be controversial as with all good art.
Art has moved on through time from symbolism, to figurative depiction of the real world and its inhabitants to helping us explore the meaning of every aspect of our existence e (including sexuality). Cartoons, particularly Manga and Hentai are popular branches of popular art that have strong links to sexuality and porn and at the same time (IMHO) can be great art.