BWGallerist

Notable: Sex Sells – Fine Art or Pornography? And Who Collects It?

In Article, Photographer on February 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

image

Peter Reed (1980) by Robert Mapplethorpe

From time to time the age old question of “what is art” gets jumbled into “what is pornography”.  Judging by a Financial Times article by Georgina Adam on the current state of affairs … some things never change:

So where is the line between pornography and art? Alison Jacques says: "When Mapplethorpe makes an image he is finding classical beauty in the everyday – this could be flowers, sculpture or something more graphic."
"The intention is the difference," says Simon Lee, arguing that the relation between the creator and the viewer makes all the difference.
"Every age has its ‘Olympia’," continues Szanto, referring to Manet’s 1863 portrait of a naked courtesan being offered flowers by a black servant, which provoked uproar in 1865. "Today the threshold for making outrageous sexual statements is higher. Art is a mirror of society." Catherine Wood concurs "The boundaries of acceptability in mainstream culture are continuously expanding," she says.

Who buys this art? There are some collectors – such as the Californian couple Norah and Norman Stone – whose holdings include a considerable number of explicit works. According to dealers, however, "Inevitably the pool of possible buyers is smaller", says Lee, particularly in a family context. Such art is generally kept in the private areas of the collector’s house, but when an artist becomes generally accepted, the work may move into public areas – whatever the content. "It depends on the consensus of what constitutes good taste," says Daniella Luxembourg, noting that when she started selling Egon Schiele works – which can be extremely graphic – they were usually kept in the bedroom, but with the growth of his reputation were displayed more openly.

For more sex, er, thoughts on this

ancient argument: Financial Times

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