Hans Maes on the fine line between art and pornography for BBC Culture

Dr Hans Maes

Dr Hans Maes, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art, has provided expert advice for a BBC Culture article entitled ‘The Fine Line between Art and Pornography‘.

For more than a hundred years, activists have drawn attention to the depiction of female nudes in art, and the issue of art and pornography is a contentious one.

In the article, Hans comments that the boundary between art and pornography has always been blurred: ‘It’s generally assumed that pornography has two key characteristics: it’s sexually explicit and its aim is to sexually arouse the viewer. Well, throughout history and across cultures you can find great works of art that share those very characteristics. Think of some of the mosaics in Pompeii, Kama Sutra sculptures or some of Gustav Klimt’s explicit drawings. If you want, compare Goya’s Naked Maja to a Playboy centrefold and tell me the line is not blurred.’

The full article is available on BBC Culture’s website here:

For those who wish to read more, Hans has published two books on the topic: Art & Pornography (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography (Palgrave, 2013).