Dressed as Humans: Notes and information from Ines Ortner and SMOC’s presentation


SMOC presents notes from Ines Ortner


Dressed as Humans: Expressionism in Performance and the full body masks of Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt 1910-1923

“The well costumed person appears undressed, that makes him look inside out. He throws therefore a dream over himself, the dream of a colorful or large animal.” (Ernst Bloch, Asthetik des Vorscheins)



Definition of Expressionism

“Artistic style in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person. The artist accomplishes this aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, web)

Latin: “expressio”, meaning communicating thoughts and feelings through…a work of art.

English: “expression” #1 a look on somebody’s face, conveying a though or a feeling, #8 “the pressing out of a liquid from a substance using pressure” (English Dictionary, web)

In German: “Ausdruck” literally to press something outwards from an insight
The term “Expressionism” is thought to have been coined in 1910 by Czech art historian Antonin Matejcek, who intended it to denote the opposite of Impressionism. Groups defined themselves more as post impressionists before that.
German Expressionism ca. 1910 -1923/25


Influential preceding fine artists: Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin and Edvard Munch

Most known painters/graphic artists form the Expressionism in Germany Die BrUcke (The Bridge) in Dresden, 1905: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Erich Heckel

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) in Munich, 1911-1914: Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, and August Macke Hamburg: Emil Maetzel, Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Hans Leip (print), Emil Nolde. Vienna (Austria): Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

Jarred forms, rough and painterly application, the paint/material is visible, usually applied in thick impasto, you can see the paint strokes, spontaneity, abstracted depiction of the reality, mainly cityscapes, objects and people, sometimes complete abstraction. Strong colors and unusual and/or contrasting color combinations. Use of all mediums, oil paint popular, also rediscovery of various print techniques, particularly woodblock printing (Northern Germany).
Expressionistic Theatre
Influential preceding playwrights: August Strindberg, Frank Wedekind

Playwrights/poets: Reinhard Sorge “The Beggar” (1912), awarded the literary Kleist price for this play in the same year

Walter Hasenclever “The Son” (1914)

August Stratum: “Sancta Susanna” (1912), as Opera in 1921, with music by Paul Hindemith), “Die Haidebraut” (1913)

Georg Kaiser: ” From Morn to Midnight” (play from 1912, filmed in 1920), “The Burgers of Calais” (published 1914, first performed 1917)

Oskar Kokoschka “Murderer, the Hope of Women”, premiered 1909 in Vienna,

Ernst Toiler: -Transfiguration- (Die Wandlung) premiered in 1919, Masses Man (Masse Mensch) (1921)

Herwarth Walden: “Kind”, “Menschen” (1918), “Glaube”, “Suende”, Beiden-, -Erste Liebe”, “Letzte Liebe” (1920)

Arnold Bronnen “Vatermord” (1922)

– He, She, Mother, Son or Clerk, Banker, instead of names

– no character development but rather types and archetypes

– story is always the essential struggle of being human, often in context of social norms and values (father son relationship, the nun in conflict with gods laws etc.)

– declamatory dialogue

-choral effects, deals with mythical and spiritual questions and elements – heightened intensity and sense of urgency makes it often very forceful experience, known as “Scream theatre” (Schreitheater), better: “Soundspeaking” (term coined by Lothar Schreyer)

– it exposes the shortcoming of language as a way to express an inner state of being, emotions, therefore very visual and stylized

– rejection of the realistic and naturalistic stage. The visuals become a predominant role on stage, use of symbolism, surreal and abstracted set/costumes
Expressionistic movies

Robert Wiene: “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligary” (1919), considered as the first horror movie

Karlheinz Martin ” From Morn to Midnight” (1920) by Georg Kaiser

Leopold Jessner: “Backstairs” (1921)

F.W. Murnau: “Nosferatu” (1922)

Fritz Lang: “The-Head-of Janus”-(1920), “Metropolis” (1927)
Der Sturm (The Storm), Berlin

The magazine was founded in 1910 -1932 by Herwarth Walden and was discontinued in 1932. Around the magazine a loose artist organization with the name of Sturmkreis was founded, it included a theater, a gallery and events, the Storm evenings (Sturm-Abende). At these events poems were recited, art exhibition, expressionist drama and political cabaret presented, and art discussed. Walden published print art, monographs, art essays, art cards. He presented works by expressionist artists, cubists and futurists.
Lavinia Berta Schulz (1896 -1924) born in Luebben/Lausitz, moved to Berlin to study art, began studying theatre at the Storm School under Lothar Schreyer, moved in 1919 to Hamburg where she met Walther Holdt. She refused to perform for money, which contributed to dire financial situation in a depressionbrought them into despair that ended in a tragic murder suicide.
Walter Holdt (1899 -1924), son of a merchant family from Hamburg. He began schooling in this field, referred to the Kampfbuehne through one of the large theatre houses. He is described as a more skillful dancer than Lavinia. They got married secretly on 30. August 1921
Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt (1901 – 1988) was a German composer, musicologist, and historian and critic of music. From 1921/22 he shared an apartment in downtown with Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt.



The Mask Dancers: Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt:  Information by Jan ReetZe

 “Great art , male “(” big technics, male “)

 “Small Technology, feminine” (“small technics, female”)

“Spring cattle” (“jumping beast”)
 “Dead Woman” (“dead woman”)
Several times I passed by synthesis wonderful strange life-sized objects at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg; there are twelve of them. I always liked them, but I did not see them as very important: because I thought of them as sculptures. But I was wrong, as I learned When I finally managed to read the explanation texts at the wall: In fact, thesis objects werewolf sculptures but not costumes or rather full body masks . Between 1920 and 1924 Their creators Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt Performed self-choreographed dances expressionistic free in synthesis and some other masks. Without any doubt they were as creative as Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus theater with his Triadic Ballet , and they were successful.  But the story of this couple ended tragically, and today the Both of them are nearly forgotten – reason enough to become curious.insides of most of the masks werewolf anything but pleasant.Sticking out na ils, open wire endings and chafing seams made ​​it inevitable for the dancers to bandage Their Heads. The costumes werewolf heavy, and sometimes During Their performances this Became obvious. But this was a principle: Schulz and Holdt refused any relief. Art had to be exhausting, otherwise it Could not be taken serious.
Film scribbles by Lavinia Schulz, 1923
 Probably Walter Holdt and Lavinia Schulz, 1922
(Photo: unknown)
To read about the life of  Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt and see more amazing photos, Lavinia’s own sketches, and see items never before finished, go to the original article here!

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