Artist Spotlight: Sascha Schneider

Schneider's risky homoerotic artwork enjoyed great popularity in Germany. Then the political climate changed.

BY Christopher Harrity

September 14 2013 3:00 AM ET


Werdende Kraft, 1904

The Cultural Conflict
Yet at the same exact moment that Freikörperkultur made the sight of handsome nude young men ubiquitous in public spaces as diverse as stadiums and opera houses, another movement was brewing — the very first modern gay- rights movement. Led by such pioneering figures as Magnus Hirschfeld, founder of the Institute for Sexual Research (which was destroyed by the Nazis in 1933), this new political movement sought to make same-sex relationships entirely legal, in part through claiming that gay people were born gay, that same-sex desire was as natural to some as heterosexuality was to others. But whereas Freikörperkultur sought to generalize an (unacknowledged) homoerotic sensibility across all of German culture, this new politics essentially set up the first self-described homosexual minority in history. Thus a collision was set in motion between those who worked to make homosexuality more tolerable by generalizing a gay aesthetic (though distinctly not a gay politics) across the culture at large and those who named their homosexuality, who specifically sought civil rights under the guise of inborn and natural difference.

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