Histories of Germany’s Bauhaus art and design school (1919–33) usually position it exclusively as a movement in exile as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. In fact, the vast majority of its members remained and embraced Nazism, survived it, or became its victims. In this talk, art historian Elizabeth Otto scrutinizes traces of the work and lives of Bauhäusler who, through their imprisonment and often deaths in the concentration-camp system, have largely been lost to the history of the Bauhaus movement. Using archival sources—often scant materials preserved by family members and friends, including documents, photographs, and private memoirs—she reconstructs aspects of these artists’ work and lives and considers how to write the histories that Nazi violence has taken from us.
Presentation by Elizabeth Otto, PhD, professor for modern and contemporary art history and gender studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, followed by Q&A. Moderated by Rachel Stern, director of the Fritz Ascher Society.
Image above: Wanda Debschitz-Kunowski, photograph of a design for a variable window display with modern lighting designs from the firm of Goldschmidt & Schwabe. Display by Otto Rittweger (with help from Charlotte Rothschild?) Published in the design journal Die Form in 1931