Art, Luxury, And Immorality In Kirchner's Streetwalkers

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The pre-war world of 1912 looked very different than our modern world—especially in regard to commercial displays of fashion. During the pre-war period, societal norms concerning morality held the advertisement industry to high moral standards. Fashion catalogues displayed drawn images of featured clothing either on a white, traditional mannequin or tastefully draped across a male or female figure. Unlike our world today, sexualized images were not deemed appropriate for the public. Today, one can hardly enter a store in the mall without being confronted by an image of a practically nude female. These images are so commonplace today that we barely blink when we see a model sporting only a thong, arms gripped across her bare chest. Such blatant displays of female sexuality would have disrupted an entire nation, as it did in 1913 Germany. In “Ernst Kirchner’s Streetwalkers: Art, Luxury, and Immorality in Berlin, 1913-1916,” author Sherwin Simmons examines the relationship between Ernst Kirchner’s Strassenbilder (street series) and the concurrent dialogue on luxury and immorality. Author Sherwin Simmons argues that Kirchner’s Strassenbilder series both stemmed from the present discourse as well as created more discourse. Simmons’ conclusion that Kirchner’s works were entwined with contemporary socio-political issues completely diverges from Kirchner’s view of his art. Kirchner chose to believe that his art stood independent from cultural influences. Instead, he saw his art

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