Saturday, June 23, 2012

Magnus Hirschfeld: Bilder-Lexicon 1930 Erotic Arts

In my early years of interest in erotica, the bibliography of German books published circa 1918 ~ 1933 loomed large in my imagination, something I needed to wrap my mind around. I became familiar with the bibliography through bookseller's catalogs while never actually handling any of the books. Eventually I purchased the key reference work, the BILDER-LEXICON Kulturgeschicte, Literatur und Kunst, Sexualwissenschaft. An iconic set of four huge volumes filled with color and black & white illustrations and photos, edited and published by Magnus Hirschfeld (Verlag fur Kulturforshung, Vienna/Leipzig, 1929~1931). A monumental work, the books are known in the trade simply as "the bilder".
Eightly years after is was originally published, it remains the unsurpassed illustrated dictionary of the erotic arts, sexual science and amourous literature with a particular focus on the bizarre, transgressive and tabou aspects of human nature. The books are filled with an extraordinary variety of illustrated citations starting in prehistoric times and continuing through to modernity. Every aspect of human sexual desire, feverish fantasy and abnormal proclivities of men and women is addressed. The areas of lesbianism, male homosexuality, passive/aggressive domination, transvestism and fetishism as well as perverted sexual desires that lead to social humiliation and shame were of particular interest to Hirschfeld. 

Note that in 1933, just two years after the publication of the fourth volume in the original set, Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Studies was destroyed by the Nazis. Hirschfeld is viewed today as one of the most important figures in the then emerging field of modern sexual science while also playing a key role in the earliest days of rights for homosexuals. He also coined the word " transvestism" for his 1910, extremely rare two volume work, Die Transvestiten. He died in Nice, France in 1935. Excellent bio is here.

Illustrated is the 1962 facsimile of "the bilder", published in eight volumes, plus two supplemental volumes which updated the new edition. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Legs + Stockings 1930s ~ 1950s

A special issue of the German magazine Das Leben, October 1929, got me started on this leg and stocking post. The cover + a few photos from the magazine.

A collection of French labels for stocking boxes, packaging circa 1930s ~ 1950s.


part two to follow...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Berlin.3 Postcards Books Flea Markets May 2012

Above is one of the last photos I took in Berlin. A few weeks later it is now iconic for me as I spent so much time in the s-bahn and u-bahn trains criss crossing the city. The blue illuminated signs and orange lighting details were everywhere throughout the underground system.

 Entrance to the Ludwig Loewe-Hofe, an old industrial building, where the postcard/collectibles show was held.

 Stamp dealer's car covered with....stamps!

 At the postcard show.

 A visit to the marvelous bookshop, Karajahn owned by Michael Jahn, who is in the photos. Michael has a diverse interest in books, photographs and periodicals from local German history to modernism and the graphic arts. The catalog he published devoted to Das Plakat magazine is exceptional. His website is here.

 Quick visit to a Sunday book fair.

 The flea markets were disappointing, nothing like they were in the past; very little "paper". However my last stop was the Potsdamer Platz market, which is primarily for new merchandise, where I found these two young French artists who create limited edition prints and books. They are making some very nice art and I was pleased to purchased a few of their publications to add to my collection of contemporary "artist's books". They go by the name damientran and can be found here.



Berlin.2 Kunsthaus Tacheles May 2012

The artist's building, Tacheles in East Berlin is an amazing mash-up of graffiti, street art, outsider art and fine art housed in a former department store on the Oranienburger Strasse. It is on one hand, wonderfully dark and mysterious; on the other, a child-like funhouse filled with the creative energy of individual artists working in studios and in the public spaces that connect them. 

Upon entering, the creative energy jumps off the stairwell walls where every square inch is covered with graffiti, tags and paste-ups. It all spills out onto each floor where corridors leading to the studios and exhibitions spaces and also covered with artwork, stencils and more graffiti as well as lots of art related agit-prop. The "studio" art in most cases is disappointing, almost more sideshow than art, however the energy created by the years of habitation by artists and the remnants of their presence on every surface of the interior of the building is almost overwhelming. 

NB: Visit Tacheles soon! After years of fighting with the owners, negotiating to stay and receiving a series of reprieves, the end has arrived and the building will soon be vacated and demolished. 

Main gallery/exhibition space, exceptional large scale paintings.

Backlit graffitied window

Artist showing his work to visitors in his open studio.