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Schad’s Self-Portrait is a study of thinly-veiled display. The artist’s transparent shirt reveals his chest. He is positioned in front of the woman, but only partially conceals her nakedness. A diaphanous curtain separates them from the city. Schad’s precise realism is loaded with symbolism. A narcissus, indicating vanity, leans towards the artist. The woman’s face is scarred with a freggio, inflicted on Neapolitan women by their lovers to make them unattractive to others. It is a startling emblem of the potential violence underlying male possession of the female body.

May 2007