Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Girls by Christian Schad

Two girls (1928)

We move away from inter-war Paris over to Berlin which was the only other continental rival to the French capital as a major source of erotica at this time.

This painting is by the Bavarian born painter Christian Schad (1894-1982) and was painted in 1928.  Schad was born in Miesbad, Bavaria and studied at the Munich Art Academy.  He fled Germany to avoid service in the Great War and lived in Geneva and Zurich where he became a Dadaist; these two cities being centres for the movement.  In the first half of the twenties he travelled in Italy studying the great Italian painters.  After a time in Vienna he moved with his wife to Berlin in the late twenties.

Schad moved from his initial cubist and futurist styles to embrace what Fox Talbot had originally called photogenic drawings; pictures created by placing objects onto photo sensitive paper and then exposing them to sunlight.  His works using found objects in this medium, which were christened Schadographs, later influenced Man Ray.  Following his journeys in Italy, however, and his exposure to the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement in Berlin, he devloped a cool, realistic approach to painting influenced by the clarity of Raphael's paintings. A couple of years after this picture was pinted Schad developed an interest in eastern philosophy and his output dwindled to virtually nothing.  When the Nazis came to power he was considered too unimportant to worry about (unlike Dix and Grosz whose art was declared "degenerate" and burned).

This picture of two girls comes from right in that Neue Sachlichkeit period.  There is none of the anatomical exaggeration or deliberate ugliness of  Otto Dix or George Grosz.  The two girls are apart, masturbating seperately but one gazes longlingly at the other whilst she fingers herself.  What is the relationship between the two?  Are they lovers?  If so why are they apart?  Are they just non lesbian friends or even sisters just discovering their sexuality together? 

A cool, intriguing and erotic painting.

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