The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk

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The beauty of the human body has found a daring beholder in art historian George Hersey, who for the first time brings modern Darwinian theories of sexual selection (mate competition, attractor manipulation, and the like) into the history of art. The Evolution of Allure shows how Western art has channeled mate choice, exploiting the cosmetics, clothes, muscles, organs, and ornaments that showcase the body. From the Medici Venus to Vitruvius, Leonardo, Dürer, and the phone-sex goddesses of D-Cup Superstars, ...
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Overview

The beauty of the human body has found a daring beholder in art historian George Hersey, who for the first time brings modern Darwinian theories of sexual selection (mate competition, attractor manipulation, and the like) into the history of art. The Evolution of Allure shows how Western art has channeled mate choice, exploiting the cosmetics, clothes, muscles, organs, and ornaments that showcase the body. From the Medici Venus to Vitruvius, Leonardo, Dürer, and the phone-sex goddesses of D-Cup Superstars, Hersey's lively, erotically charged text shows that the formulas set forth by the Greek sculptor Polykleitos have established a Western canon of human gestures and proportions and may have influenced human evolution.
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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Establishes compelling connections between high art and popular culture in this entertaining interdisciplinary romp. -- Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262581646
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/6/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 235
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

George Hersey is Emeritus Professor of Art History at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk (MIT Press, 1996) and The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi (MIT Press, 1988).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Aphrodite's Daughters
Sexual Selection 1
Augmentation 5
Borrowing, Translation, and Exchange 8
Sperm Competition 10
Clothes as Genital Maps 12
Incarnate Christs and Selectable Saints 21
The Incarnation 22
The Immaculate Conception 26
Magdalen and Teresa 32
Body Canons 41
Polykleitos, Praxiteles, and Vitruvius 44
Canons and Number: Alberti, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Durer, and Lomazzo 47
William Wetmore Story and the Seal of Solomon 56
Aryans and Semites 61
Aryanism 62
Aryan Art: Frederic Leighton 69
Semitic Art: The Etruscans, Cimabue, and Michelangelo 76
Two Afro-Aryan Heroines 80
More Body Prescribers 85
Selecting Scientifically: Lavater, Ammon, Virchow, and Kretschmer 86
Endomorphs, Mesomorphs, Ectomorphs, and W. H. Sheldon 90
Galton and Lombroso 101
Worse and Better Faces 102
Breeding Baroque Bodies: Guido Reni 106
The Monsters among Us 112
Women, Ornament, and Degeneration 116
Morelli and Lombrosan Connoisseurship 124
Max Nordau 129
More Degeneration 130
Erotomania: Verlaine and Rodin 133
Brain Decay: Whistler, Boldini, and J. W. Alexander 137
Into Nazism 147
Paul Schultze Naumburg: Rubens and Rembrandt 148
Jacob Epstein and Racial Treachery 154
The 120-Year Reich 157
Hyperdevelopment Today 165
Augmentation: Hercules and Batman 166
Exchange: Arnold, Diana of Ephesus, Kristy Ramsey, and Hannah Hoch 170
Dimorphism: The Incredible Hulk, His Friends, and the Sage Grouse 174
Notes 181
Selected Bibliography 199
Index 211
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