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The Pale Dance: Two Types of Kittens

Der Blasse Tanz/The Pale Dance, Martin Eder, intr. Isabelle Azoulay (Prestel) $65

Prestel has published a 320-page collection of watercolors by German artist Martin Eder. Admittedly, I had never heard of Eder, and based on this book and a small amount of research, I’m still not quite sure how to feel about him. His subject matter is comprised of pornographic girls in pornographic positions, and kittens. It sounds very conceptual because it is, and Azoulay uses her economic introduction to discuss how traditional concepts of feminism and erotic art play out in his work.

The resulting art is a bevy of hot, naked girls, tone ranging from smutty to sensual, interlaced with hazy, demonic cats. All Eder’s portraits use watercolor well to create a genuine nightmarish quality—to what end is undoubtedly articulated in his artist’s statement and gallery publicity, but my initial emotional reaction is a vague sense of creepiness and bewilderment.

As a frequent user of watercolor, I appreciate the skill and color schemes employed throughout the book. Most of the portraits look as though a photograph had been masterfully put through many Photoshop filters; it’s clear that Eder is able to accomplish a lot with a handful of quick, well-placed brush strokes, making his art a realistic sort of impressionism. The palates are harmonious and interesting. Eder’s skill level is obviously high, so this, combined with my appreciation of naked women, led me to like the book. The Pale Dance is stronger in technique than concept, but Eder’s technique is virtuosic enough to make this book worthwhile.


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