Erotic Photography or Trashy Porn?


Upon hearing the words ‘erotic photography’, most people conjure in their minds images of naked women exploiting themselves for quick money. Little do they know that erotic photography is one of the most celebrated forms of art, focusing on the beauty of the human form and using the medium of the camera to capture everything that eroticism is about.

There was once a strong distinction between pornographic images of naked people, produced solely for the purpose of arousal, and erotic photography which focused on a more artistic approach to nudity. These days however, the line between erotic photography and pornography is becoming increasingly blurred, especially with the internet which is now flooded with pornographic websites, some posing as ‘erotic art’.

 

(Pictures taken from ‘Paris de Nuit’ by Brassai http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/BRASSAI.html)

 

Before the birth of the Playboy era, renowned photographers produced countless depictions of erotica, some of which remain some of the most influential photographs in art history. One such photographer was Hungarian born Brassai, whose famous work ‘Paris de Nuit’ captured the erotic night world of pleasure seekers in Paris in the 1930s.

Photos were taken in the darkness of bistros and cobble stone streets, where prostitutes gave their bodies in exchange for money and young couples engaged in lustful embraces and sexually suggestive acts. The work of Brassai maintains its significance as a fundamental part in the history of erotic photography.

 

Lucien Clergue is another famous erotic photographer whose work reaches far beyond the limited boundaries of pornography. Clergue’s images of female nudes photographed on the beaches of the Camargue in the 60s and 70s reflected the growing interest in beach fashion and the focus on returning to nature which was popular with the hippy movement at the time. Some argue that Clergue’s photographs marked the beginning of the erotic stereotype of the sexual figure on the beach – a stereotype which exists until today and is more often used in pornography than erotic photography.


(picture taken from www.artnet.com)

 


The works of these early erotic photographers symbolize the importance of distinguishing between erotic photography and pornography. Because of the proliferation of pornographic photos today, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. But one simply needs to look through history at the incredible accomplishments of true erotic photographers in order to fully understand the artistic merit of this form of photography.

(picture taken from http://baruchfoundation.org/clergue/clergue_genese.jpg.php)

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