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We Weren't Modern Enough: Women Artists and the Limits of German Modernism

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Marsha Meskimmon furnishes a fresh perspective on the art of women in the Weimar Republic and in the process reclaims the lost history of a number of artists who have not received adequate attention—not only because they were women but also because they continued to align themselves with the modes of realistic representation the Expressionists regarded as reactionary. Reco Marsha Meskimmon furnishes a fresh perspective on the art of women in the Weimar Republic and in the process reclaims the lost history of a number of artists who have not received adequate attention—not only because they were women but also because they continued to align themselves with the modes of realistic representation the Expressionists regarded as reactionary. Reconsidering the traditional definitions of German modernism and its central issues of race politics, eugenics, and the city, Meskimmon explores the structures that marginalized the work of little known artists such as Lotte Laserstein, Jeanne Mammen, Gerta Overbeck and Grete Jurgens. She shows how these women's personal and professional experiences in the 1920s and 1930s relate to the visual imagery produced at that time. She also examines representations of different female roles—prostitute, mother, housewife, the "New Woman" and "garçonne"—that attracted the attention of these artists. Situating her exploration on a strong theoretical base, she ranges deftly over mass visual culture—from film to poster art and advertising—to create a vivid portrait of women living and creating in Weimar Germany.


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Marsha Meskimmon furnishes a fresh perspective on the art of women in the Weimar Republic and in the process reclaims the lost history of a number of artists who have not received adequate attention—not only because they were women but also because they continued to align themselves with the modes of realistic representation the Expressionists regarded as reactionary. Reco Marsha Meskimmon furnishes a fresh perspective on the art of women in the Weimar Republic and in the process reclaims the lost history of a number of artists who have not received adequate attention—not only because they were women but also because they continued to align themselves with the modes of realistic representation the Expressionists regarded as reactionary. Reconsidering the traditional definitions of German modernism and its central issues of race politics, eugenics, and the city, Meskimmon explores the structures that marginalized the work of little known artists such as Lotte Laserstein, Jeanne Mammen, Gerta Overbeck and Grete Jurgens. She shows how these women's personal and professional experiences in the 1920s and 1930s relate to the visual imagery produced at that time. She also examines representations of different female roles—prostitute, mother, housewife, the "New Woman" and "garçonne"—that attracted the attention of these artists. Situating her exploration on a strong theoretical base, she ranges deftly over mass visual culture—from film to poster art and advertising—to create a vivid portrait of women living and creating in Weimar Germany.

34 review for We Weren't Modern Enough: Women Artists and the Limits of German Modernism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    The title is a quote of Gerta Overbeck, whose portrait of her sister appears on the cover of another edition of this book. Political debates surrounding art practices and the construction of 'realism' as a category commonly opposed to 'abstraction' and/or 'expressionism' were typical of wider German modernist criticism. Although Overbeck and Rivera argued that the epithet 'modern' belonged to different sides of the 'abstraction/realism' divide within their particular contexts, their use of the sel The title is a quote of Gerta Overbeck, whose portrait of her sister appears on the cover of another edition of this book. Political debates surrounding art practices and the construction of 'realism' as a category commonly opposed to 'abstraction' and/or 'expressionism' were typical of wider German modernist criticism. Although Overbeck and Rivera argued that the epithet 'modern' belonged to different sides of the 'abstraction/realism' divide within their particular contexts, their use of the self-same terminology is telling. During the inter-war years in Europe and America there was no definitive consensus concerning the 'modern' or 'modernism'; many different factions vied for the privilege to assert their 'modernity' and though this, their cultural dominance. To read the 1920s and 1930s through the sanitised veil of post-Second World War definitions of modern and modernism is to reduce the complex and multiple discourses and debates of the day into a falsely unified whole. The modern canon, as it has been constructed, leaves women (and 'woman') outside its frame as 'not modern enough'. ...To say this entails placing their work into an untenable position through which we either explore their 'failure' to approximate a predetermined and monolithic definition of the modernist project or argue (from a position of weakness) that they really did 'live up to' this exclusive agenda. ...tacit assumption that women artists were unusual, isolated individuals, best understood with reference to their position vis-a-vis well-known male artists of the day... The matter of the past may exist in abundant if fragmentary forms, yet it will not be recognised or 'seen' until our paradigms admit of it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    britany

    this book really stays on the surface of the topic. i have since heard that it's not respected so much as an academic work. i still think it's good as an intro to gender issues in german art, howevs. this book really stays on the surface of the topic. i have since heard that it's not respected so much as an academic work. i still think it's good as an intro to gender issues in german art, howevs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    nis

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Publie

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    704.042 M5789m 1999

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sirius Blackthorn

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rena

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Blampied

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yuliya

  11. 5 out of 5

    Naimah Amin

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bwickre

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jean

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ruxandra Irina

  15. 4 out of 5

    Domenic

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hermeneutic

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie Knutson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alasdair Ekpenyong

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renan Virginio

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carla

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monica Andronic

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kira Bushman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Lampl

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Van der linden

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Raship

  31. 5 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  32. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Ammar

  33. 4 out of 5

    Miria-Sabina Maciagiewicz

  34. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Dupuis

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