Ask Morgana 175: Marcel René von Herrfeldt

Marcel Rene von Herrfeldt (1889-1965) was a painter with roots in Art Nouveau which he fused with elements of New Objectivity to form what he called ‘expressive realism’. His women are often posed like pin-ups, and indeed his depiction of depilation – see (5) and (7) below – seems in harmony with the aesthetic of 21c internet pornogrpahy. In (3), by contrast, the subject’s pubic area looks as though it has been airbrushed, as in a 1960s nudist magazine! He seems to excuse his eroticism with exoticism, as though the Levant or the South legitimises exposure which would be unseemly in bourgeois Europe; thus a subject can be called ‘oriental’ (4), ‘Salome’ (6), or ‘Andalusian’ (8) and that makes her provocative nudity okay. I almost want to seize him by the throat and say, “Come on, Marcel, you find these women sexy because they’re sexy women, not because they’re Mediterranean or foreign!” I’m sorry if I seem to scoff… actually there is more than a little beauty here

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Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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