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October 13, 2005

The Great Pornography Debate

In 1986, I think it was, Picassoís sketchbooks were on display in a big exhibition at the Tate [there was only the one then]. Two late-middle-aged ladies, sporting tweed skirts, with cashmere cardigans draped over their shoulders, clutched their catalogues and were peering over the gilded rims of their reading glasses at a large display of 9 pages from Picassoís 165th sketchbook and cooing appreciatively at Pabloís expressive use of line and general joie de vivre.


Now, I might be wrong, but I felt at the time that had I shown them a selection of 9 pages from any of a number of magazines, usually displayed out of reach of those with an impressionable yet enquiring mind, the ladies would have been less than enthusiastic about their content. And rightly so.

Picasso was undoubtedly an artist with a very free priapic spirit, but he wasnít a pornographer. I donít believe he was even an erotic artist, the latter being the preserve of the less-talented and bed-fellows with kitsch artists and painters of pet portraits.

For me the difference between art and pornography is the intent. Picasso was expressing something, his intent was to communicate something he felt. Pornographers make images to sell. Pornographers are not expressing themselves, they are working to a brief and making a product with a specific end use. Their intent is to make money, and they are some of the richest people on the planet, but thatís another story for another day.

Donít get me wrong, I donít have a problem with pornography, or pet portraiture for the matter of that, but it isnít art, and art isnít pornography. Art should move you in some way, it should uplift the spirit; pornography only seeks to uplift one thing, and it ainít the spirit.

Posted by john at October 13, 2005 04:23 PM