Modernity and Religion Keynote Lecture: Elizabeth Otto on Bauhaus Occult

The second keynote lecture of our workshop Modernity and Religion in Central European Art and Architecture will take place at

18.00 CET on 13 May 2021

on Zoom.

Elizabeth Otto (State University of New York at Buffalo)

will present:

Bauhaus Occult: Experimental Spirituality in the Home of Rational Modernism

The Bauhaus (1919–1933) is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s most influential art, architecture, and design school, celebrated as the archetypal movement of rational modernism and famous for bringing functional and elegant design to the masses. In this talk, Elizabeth Otto uncovers a very different Bauhaus by investigating its members’ participation in new religions and forms of spirituality. Their spiritual inquiry involved the ephemeral experiences of new-age and occult religions, and practices such as yoga, nude gymnastics, and movements to harmonize the spirit. These new forms of spirituality also left traces in their work as evidenced in double-exposed ‘spirit photographs,’ drawings of seances, designs for utopian communities, and many other Bauhaus works.

Elizabeth Otto is an art historian and the author of Haunted Bauhaus: Occult Spirituality, Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics (MIT Press, 2019) and Tempo, Tempo! The Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt (Bauhaus-Archiv/Jovis, 2005), and the coauthor of Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective (Bloomsbury, 2019). She has coedited five books including Bauhaus Bodies: Gender, Sexuality, and Body Culture in Modernism’s Legendary Art School (Bloomsbury, 2019). Otto is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in the United States. Her work has been supported by numerous organizations including the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the National Humanities Center.

The lecture is free to attend, but you need to register. Click here for the registration form. See the full workshop schedule here.

The lecture would originally have taken place on 29 April, and has been rescheduled due to technical reasons.

This workshop is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 786314).

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