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Title: Abject eroticism and toxic femininity in Hans Baldung Grien
Author: Owens, Yvonne Irene Linda
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 6068
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Albrecht Dürer's most famous apprentice and close friend, Hans Baldung Grien, helped to establish the erotic stylizations and feminine iconography of witches in art. Baldung deployed radically polarized images of desirability and abjection as an affective visual strategy in his witchcraft images, intensifying the threatening allure of his graphic, nude representations of the dangerous, eroticized, feminine body. Classical representations of feminine sexuality derived from Aristotelian Natural Philosophy were central to sixteenth-century Witch Hunt discourses in Germany, and to their gendered characterizations of maleficia. Woman's inferior nature was constructed as an imperfect reflection, or "inversion," of the masculine, which contributed to her depravity and perversity. The evident sign of this was menstruation, among a wide cross-section of related signifiers. In Baldung's figures of women and witchcraft, intimately engaging imagery and attractive, pornographic display are set against icons of monstrous acts and "polluted," feminine, genital emissions. Like the fascination with witches itself, Baldung's success depended upon an exacting equilibrium among the iconographic elements driving his moralizing, titillating fabliaux, one that balanced attraction against fear, revulsion against desire, and charged eroticism against abject horror. His images of the corrupt and corrupting feminine body reflected many elite discourses concerning corporeal, feminine evil in currency among both classical humanists and conservative scholastics in early sixteenth-century Germany, which gendered witchcraft as a naturalized product of "feminine defect." In constructing his detailed and highly influential iconography of witchcraft, Baldung gave powerful visual expression to late medieval tropes and stereotypes, such as Poison Maiden, Venomous Virgin, Ages of Woman, Fall of Man, End Times, and Death and the Maiden themes and motifs, which referenced and reflected themes of feminine "pollution".
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available