Abstract

Abstract:

A study of female sexuality and corporeal agency, Christian Schad's 1928 painting Zwei Mädchen challenges long-established notions of women's sexual desire and of the visual depiction and reception of the human body. It undermines gendered power structures, denying viewers the culturally endorsed role of the active male observer looking at the passive female figure and hence control over their visual and erotic experiences. As the models reject what Laura Mulvey termed "to-be-looked-at-ness," the painting emphasizes women's sexual independence, and autoeroticism emerges as a practice of female empowerment. Viewers are confronted with their own beliefs regarding women's sexuality as ori-ented toward men and with the transformation of male and female social roles, including in the sexual arena, taking place during the Weimar era. To analyze the work's complex visual power dynamics and the role of the averted gaze, this study draws on research from film, gender and sexuality studies, art history, and psychology.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2578-5192
Print ISSN
2578-5206
Pages
pp. 53-84
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-03
Open Access
No
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