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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission


The Missing Archive: Bauhaus Designers and the Holocaust

Event details
Calendar   Speaking Engagements
Location Zoom
Date Wed, May 3, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Duration   1h

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.

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Dr. Elizabeth Otto is professor for modern and contemporary art history and gender studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has published widely on issues of gender and sexuality in the art, design, photography, and visual culture of twentieth-century Europe. Among Otto’s books are Haunted Bauhaus: Occult Spirituality, Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics (MIT Press, 2019), winner of the Northeast Popular Culture Association’s 2020 Peter C. Rollins prize, and Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective (Bloomsbury, 2019), co-authored with Dr. Patrick Rössler. Otto’s work has been supported by fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Getty Research Institute, the National Humanities Center, and, during the current academic year, the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Research at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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