The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk by George L. Hersey
8vo. pp. 219. b/w illustrations. bibliography. index. hardcover. dw. Cambridge: The MIT Press, .
ISBN 10: 0262082446 / ISBN 13: 9780262082440
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, Durer, and the phone-sex goddesses of D-Cup Superstars, Hersey¹s 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.
Victorian teachings wrapped this Polykleitan vision in Aryan racial theories and in aspects of early modern physical anthropology. Chapters on Francis Galton, Cesare Lombroso, Max Nordau, W. H. Sheldon and his infamous "posture pictures," and the Nazi theorist Paul Schultze-Naumburg deal with the biological decline that "degenerate" artists like Rembrandt, Rodin, and Whistler would supposedly help bring about.
Hersey concludes with an excursus on the current hyperdevelopment, in both sexes, of breasts and muscles, as exemplified in the likes of body builders, Batman, and the Incredible Hulk.