“Schlemmer had sensed that his abstract style was too avant-garde for the dance world of his time. In 1931 he wrote: ‘There is no doubt that the present climate is averse to experiments. However, if these experiments spring from an inner necessity and are not merely following fashionable trends, then the exact time of their realisation does not matter. For what are experiments if not the first step into the future?’” Susanne Lahusen, Mechanical Ballets? p. 12
Marionette-style costumes, vase-shaped torsos and a painterly approach to set design are iconic of Oskar Schlemmer, the first artist to explore abstraction in 1920s dance. Our next reading group will focus on the essay Mechanical Ballets? by Susanne Lahusen, which explores the lesser-celebrated mechanical dance and stage workshops of the Bauhaus era, a significant influence on Grace Schwindt for her recent film, Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society.
The group will be led by Michael White, Professor of History of Art at the University of York, and will consider Schlemmer’s and Schwindt’s ideas regarding the abstraction of human form in relation to space and freedom of expression.
We will also show film clips of Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballet, recreated in 1970 by choregrapher Margarete Hasting.
Michael White is a Professor of History of Art at the University of York with particular expertise in the early twentieth century avant-gardes. He has published widely on Dada and Constructivism and was curator of the exhibition Mondrian and his Studios at Tate Liverpool in 2014.
The text Mechanical Ballets? by Susanne Lahusen will be sent to you after registration.