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Censorship and Historical Trajectory of Erotic Art (Essay Sample)


Censorship and Historical Trajectory of Erotic Art

Censorship and Historical Trajectory of Erotic Art
Art censorship, or simply the scrutiny and examination of art with the objective of removing parts or wholes deemed offensive or immoral, dates back to earliest recorded human history. The porn or erotic art has been at the receiving end of most censorship acts as exposure of sexual materials and nudities has long been deemed morally repugnant by most religions. Historical masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment”, Manet’s “Olympia”, Gustave’s “The Origin of the World”, and MacMonnies’ “Bacchante and the Infant Faun” among others have been deemed too explicit and amoral for public viewing and have therefore been censored. Artists and lovers of art have argued that censorship constitutes violation of freedom of expression. However, as the 2011 banning of Gustave’s “The Origin of the World” by Facebook shows, public space remains hostile to sexually explicit art. Inevitably, this censorship has had negative and positive consequences that have shaped the historical trajectory of erotic art. This paper will explore ways through which censorship has shaped development of porn art.
To understand censorship of porn art, it is vital to go back in history to the 14th century when religion held sway on people’s lives and erotic art was largely idealized. Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” is a perfect example of among the first censorships and how it affected the historical trajectory of the erotic art. The visual representation of nude people supposedly to capture the religious message of the damnation that awaited sinful people did not go down well with most people. Even in the idealized form that would hardly pass as racy in modern times, the Catholic Church, led by Pope Daniele de Volterra, opposed Michelangelo’s art as unholy (Carmilly 41). The subsequent censorship compelled a disciple of the revered artist to repaint the picture to add clothes to the nude bodies.
Censorship in the 18th century only had the inadvertent effect of increasing the reverence and demand of erotic art. Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” for instance gained increased reverence in the 18th century as it paved way for more explicit arts. Manet’s “Olympia” for instance was a more vulgar and real representation of a naked woman body. The fact that the art was allowed public viewership in Paris without censorship manifested an increased appreciation of porn art (Cather 46). This ushered in a new era of even more explicit erotic arts.
As censorship created increased demand for even more explicit porn art, Gustave Courbet reignited debate in favor of censorship with his naturalistic representation of a vulva in his famous “The Origin of the World” art. Deemed blatantly vulgar, the art, or...
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