19.1.17

Wiener Werkstaette Kunstlerinnen

Another city I visited in 2016 with the intention of checking out a modern art exhibit was Vienna, Austria.



I went to see "Das bessere Haelfte: Judische Kunstlerinen bis 1938", which celebrates the contribution of Jewish women to the development of Viennese modernism.



The exhibit blends together the works of well established Viennese artists with the works of the unfairly forgotten ones.



Contrary to popular belief at the time, these artists came from different backgrounds, and were not just "daughters of high dignitaries or products of wealthy households" as Adolf Loos called the women of Wiener Werkstaette in 1927.



One of the artist featured in the exhibit is Friedl Dicker, who was born in Vienna in 1898 into a poor Jewish family. In 1915 Dicker joined the textile department of the School of Art and Crafts in Vienna.  
In 1919 she went to Weimar Bauhaus to study. She returned to Vienna four years later where she established a furniture atelier, which received awards at several exhibitions.

The photo below depicts a reproduction based on a collage by Friedl Dicker entitled "The Bourgeoisie Becomes Fascist" originally made in 1932.




Everyone can be an artist but not every artist can be a visionary. Friedl Dicker was a visionary.

In the above piece she managed to capture the spirit of the problem, which 10 years later nearly destroyed Europe, like no other artist before or after her.

Modern art played a central role in World War II. The Nazis felt threatened by it to such an extent that they organized a propaganda exhibit where popular modernist works were derided. Psychologists such as Carl Jung,  who enjoyed a blossoming career during the Nazi regime, and whose pseudo-scientific ramblings still corrode the popular Western culture today, saw modern art as a symbol of "corrosive character".  According to letters written by Jung during the Nazi regime in Germany, he was a Nazi sympathizer, yet he denied being a Nazi sympathizer after Nazi Germany lost WWII.

Meanwhile, Friedl Dicker had the option to flee Nazi Europe shortly before she was sent to a concentration camp but she chose to stay with those who couldn't go anywhere and tried to lift their spirits with art workshops where they drew flowers and landscapes to escape their gruesome reality. In 1944 she was gassed in Auschwitz along with some of her students.