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Erotica (from the Greek ἔρως, eros—"desire") are works of art, including literature, photography, film, sculpture and painting, that deal substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing descriptions. The term is a modern word that describes the portrayal of the human anatomy and sexuality with high-art aspirations, differentiating such work from commercial pornography.[1] Curiosa generally refers to erotica and pornography as discrete, collectible items, usually in published or printed form.


Erotica and pornography

Distinction is often made between erotica and pornography (the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction) (as well as the lesser known genre of sexual entertainment, ribaldry), although depending on the viewer they may seem one and the same. Pornography's objective is the graphic depiction of sexually explicit scenes.[2] Pornography is often described as exploitative or degrading.[2][3] One person's pornography is another's erotica, and vice-versa. In December 2007 one of the world's largest collections of pornography and erotica, the L'Enfer collection housed at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France, was opened for the public.[4] Marie-Françoise Quignard, one of the collection's curators, tried to distinguish between the different elements in the collection:

"There is a photograph of an act of oral sex by the artist Man Ray.... For some reason, I find that this goes just too far. Perhaps because it is a photograph and so real, while engravings or lithographs, give you a certain distance and idealisation. Man Ray confronts you point-blank here with something which should, perhaps, better remain intimate."[4]

The Canadian Supreme Court wrestled with the line between pornography and erotica going back to 1962's case Brodie v. the Queen, which involved D. H. Lawrence's erotic classic Lady Chatterley's Lover. In its decision on whether Lawrence's book was obscene, the court noted that it "has none of the characteristics that are often described in judgments dealing with obscenity --dirt for dirt's sake, the leer of the sensualist, depravity in the mind of an author with an obsession for dirt, pornography, an appeal to a prurient interest, etc."[5] In 1992, the Canadian high court changed its 'dirt for dirt's sake' test until it ruled in the case of sex shop operator R. v. Butler that a work is pornographic if it is "degrading and dehumanizing."[5] This remains the central test in Canadian courts.

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