Epilogue: segregation
in Fleshing out surfaces
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The epilogue focuses on Charles Blanc's 1867 Grammaire des arts du dessin, a normative theory of the visual arts. The author takes the traditional view that drawing unites all art forms and is superior to colour, but the way he establishes this point is very much a product of his time as many of his arguments are biologically grounded. He argues for the supremacy of drawing by associating it with the allegedly natural hierarchy between the genders, and for the supremacy of white skin by linking it to drawing. What is more, discussing the then newly theorised principles of optical mixture he connects the non-mixing of colours in divisionist painterly practices with the segregation of humans of different colours and makes a biologist plea for political segregationism. Arguing that the superiority of humans is expressed in the nakedness and monochromy of their skin, Blanc divides between skin and the colourful materiality of flesh which he confines to the inner body. Summarising the argument of the book, the epilogue concludes that early modern notions of flesh tones do not draw such a line between skin and flesh, and open up the possibility of seeing any body as being fluid and multicoloured.

Fleshing out surfaces

Skin in French art and medicine, 1650–1850


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