Again here, we see the full development from the early twentieth century, to the late. The contrasts are legion, but in these difference the cohering thread of consistency remains. Superficially, the set of the eyes in relaxed standoffishness is the only thing both figures have in common. One is front on, the other side on. One is ostentatiously clothed, the other swaggeringly naked. The hand sign is our primary concern however, and even the differences here are instructive. Tupac displays the now archetypal “Westside” sign, showing us that he and his lifestyle are representations all that sign stands for. In Schiele however, the middle and ring fingers are not crossed as in the famous Californian gesture. Is the finger-crossing a result of this sign having crossed the Atlantic, and the contintental United States on its way, as with Hegel’s ‘world history’, from east to west? Is it a declaration of recognition, which simultaneously and literally signals a departure from old Europe? Schiele’s shows us the palm, a gesture of distanciation; Tupac gives us the back of the hand, rejecting the right of anyone to push away. Different, but similar.
New blood by Elmgreen & Dragset.