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Friday 5 March 2010

Mitchell's A-Z of Fetish Artists - Lowenhaupt

Lowenhaupt's work is a classic mid 20th century take on the predatory leather man theme. It invokes a sexual allure and danger that Brando and James Dean's portrayals only hint at. Naive young men are taken in hand, put in bondage and shamelessly abused. But looking at these pictures it's hard to tell whether Lowenhaupt is suggesting the leather man is ruthlessly feasting on helpless prey or the youth is enjoying a deliciously frightening, sexual fantasy from an obliging expert.
Lowenhaupt - Roped Youth
In 'roped youth' the young man is comprehensively restrained and even has a (disguised) rope around his neck which his attacker is toying with and yet the portrayal of the leather man is rather camp. Lowenhaupt's strong men often have slightly feminine faces with fleshy lips, baby noses and thick black lashes. This one is also clad in ultra tight pants and wears his cap at a jaunty angle to show off his quiff.
There's no doubting the male qualities of his equipment which has a solidity and sheen which justifies the apprehensive look of the intended recipient. In a way the sexual ambiguity makes the attacker all the more scary, although it's ability to disturb is much reduced these days. Lowenhaupt draws on the techniques of the female glamour art of his day, with flavours of 1930's Berlin which at this time still had very powerful associations with unbridled excess, predatory sex and impending doom. 
It would have looked quite different to it's intended audience.
Lowenhaupt - Leashed
The second picture, 'leashed' has a similar subject and is planted equally firmly in it's own era but the treatment is much more masculine - the hairy backside contrasted with clean cut youthfulness of the captive's face is intensely sexual. The casual pose of the leather man and the apparent eagerness of his victim allow for a benign interpretation of the scenario.
You can see that Lowenhaupt is an accomplished artist and there is so much to admire in his best pictures. His style reflects the graphic conventions of it's time, look at the zig-zag pattern in the rolled down socks of the 'roped youth ' in the first picture. The hands of the kneeling youth in 'leashed' could almost be a detail from a sketch for a ladies fashion page or an illustration for a dress pattern. The creases in the leather jacket and the rolled down jeans show a confident technique which is marvellously effective.
Despite the quality of his work, Lowenhaupt is harder to find than many of his contemporaries. I can't ID a working link for this artist but a search of GMBA (see sidebar) should turn up more examples. I'd welcome alternative link info from readers of this blog.
For other articles in this series click on the A-Z label below.

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