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Transcript of Weimar Culture
Background Music- 'It's all a swindle' by Mischa Spoliansky and Marcellus Schiffer
by Otto Dix 1928
Films- Marlene Dietrich in 'The Blue Angel' 1930
What do these sources suggest about Weimar culture?
The Bauhaus was a movement, a school, a method of education and a way of relating art to society. It was born in the midst of the revolutionary atmosphere of the spring of 1919. Its principles were presented in the Bauhaus Manifesto of April 1919, primarily authored by the architect and first head of the Bauhaus school, Walter Gropius. “Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between the craftsmen and artist. Together let us conceive and create the new building of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will rise one day towards heaven from the hands of a million workers, like the crystal symbol of a new faith.”
Bauhaus- part of a cultural revolution?
The Bauhaus school attempted to train creative young people to be both artists and craftsmen and marry art and industry. In the architecture of Walter Gropius, the design of Marcel Breuer, and the paintings of Vassily Kandinsky, the school produced works that changed the places in which people worked, the houses in which they lived, the furnishings and accessories that filled their homes, and their ideas of beauty. The revolutionary nature of the art and the progressive nature of the politics of much of the Bauhaus faculty and students led to conflicts which required the school to move twice during the Weimar period. Many of the leading figures of the Bauhaus school fled when the Nazis took power and some such as Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer had significant careers Iater in the United States.
The battle for emancipation's been raging since history began
Yes, feminists of every nation want to chuck off the chains made by man
Hula girls and housemaids and wives in Maribou
hear all our voices thunder in protest
Anything that men do women can do too
and more that that we women do it best
CHORUS: Chuck all the men out of the Reichstag
and chuck all the men out of the courthouse
Men are the problem with humanity
they're blinded by their vanity
Women have passively embraced them
when we could have easily outpaced them
Yes we should have long ago replaced them
or better yet erased them
If we haven't made our feelings clear
we women have had it up to here
As babies men all howl and bluster they cry through the night and the day
perfecting the techniques they'll muster for the times when they don't get their
The men get their pick of professions they're policemen or scholars or clerks
They get rich and acquire possessions like we wives who keep house for these jerks
They're ruining the country while we mop up the floor
They're flushing this whole nation down the drain
Sisters stand together, let's show these men the door
before they drive us totally insane
Weimar Cabarets were of two types: There were larger halls or theaters where crowds of all ages and classes came together to witness variety shows which consisted of singers, dancers, acrobats, and comedians. Then there were smaller clubs where the audience was largely middle and upper class, younger and middle aged adults, and where the songs were political and social satire. The freer atmosphere of Weimar was demonstrated in these small clubs by intense criticism of government officials and political party leaders and the airing of previously taboo themes of gender conflict, clergy corruption and homosexuality.
Some of Weimar's best known composers, lyricists and performers such as Friedrich Hollaender, Trudi Hesterberg, Kurt Tucholsky, Rudolf Nelson, Kurt Gerron and Bertold Brecht wrote music for--and peformed in--these Cabarets. Hitler and the National Socialists were frequent targets of the satire of Cabaret performers, and when the Nazis came to power in 1933, most of the political cabarets were closed and those that remained open were heavily censored.
'Metropolis' by Otto Dix 1928
Look closely at the painting
Who do you think the people are in the painting?
What is Dix trying to say about the Weimar Republic?
Self-portrait in a tuxedo, Max Beckman 1927
If you were standing in front of this painting in the Berlin National Gallery in 1928, what might you deduce about the role of modern art and the artist in the Weimar Republic?
Also in 1927, Beckmann published an essay titled "The Artist and the State," in which he argued that through modern art, people could free themselves from old belief systems and become aware of their own power. Such liberated human beigns could build a new, balanced, spiritual and cultural order. The new signs of success would be not money, but equilibrium and self-reliance:
The new priests of this cultural [order] must be dressed in dark suits or on state occasions appear in tuxedo. . . . Workers, moreover, should likewise appear in tuxedo or tails. Which is to say: We seek a kind of aristocratic Bolshevism. A social equalization, the fundamental principle of which is. . . the conscuous and organized drive to become God ourselves. . . . To be God, each one of us must share responsibility for the whole. We can no longer depend on anything other than ourselves.1
Beckmann also wrote that it was the artist's duty to present utopian visions to society: " . . . someone has to make the first step, if only in the realm of ideas."
How does Beckmann's self-portrait represent his idea of social equality and inner equilibrium?
Discuss Beckmann'views: What does he contribute to the Weimar-era debate on how to form a modern, democratic culture?
This painting was created by Otto Dix. Explore the website www.ottodix.org to find out the name of this painting and find out more about the painter
What do you think of his interpretation of women in the Weimar Republic? How would you describe his interpretations of life in Weimar Germany generally?
Clip from the film Blue Angel starring Marlene Dietrich, 1930
Trailer for Metropolis 1927
So from these sources/ clips from Weimar Germany, what can we suggest about culture?
Do you think everybody was affected by this neue sachlichkeit?
How does this add to our understanding of stability/ instability during the Stresemann years?