Through the figure of Josephine Baker, Second Skin tells the story of an unexpected yet enduring intimacy between the
invention of a modernist style and the theatricalization of black skin at the turn of the twentieth century. Stepping
outside of the platitudes surrounding this iconic figure, Anne A. Cheng argues that Baker's famous nakedness must be
understood within larger philosophic and aesthetic debates about, and desire for, 'pure surface' that crystallized at
the convergence of modern art, architecture, machinery, and philosophy. Through Cheng's analysis, Baker emerges as a
central artist whose work engages with and impacts various modes of modernist display such as film, photography, art,
and even the modern house.