Friday, July 26, 2013

Impact of the Nazi Regime on Women Artists - Self Portraits - Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler (German artist, 1899-1940)

Portrait of Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler by Her Husband Kurt LoshseElfriede Lohse-Wächtler (1899-1940) was born in Dresden where, in 1915, she attended the Dresden School for the Decorative & Applied Arts. She also studied drawing & painting with Otto Gussmann at the Dresden Fine Art Academy.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitIn 1919, Elfriede Wächtler came into contact with Franz Pfemfert's circle, the Berlin Dadaists and, most importantly, the Dresden Secession Group. Lohse-Wächtler rented space in Felixmüller's Dresden studio to work as a freelance illustrator.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait, c. 1930Otto Dix and Conrad Felixmüller of the Dresden Secessionists introduced Elfriede Wächtler to the artist & singer Kurt Lohse, & they married in 1921. In 1925, the couple moved to Hamburg, where Kurt Lohse found employment as a chorus singer, but they separated in 1926.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitElfriede Lohse-Wächtler's most creative phase coincided with the Hamburg period. Her main works between 1927-1931, in oil, pastel & watercolour included city views, self-portraits, couples, prostitutes, & the working-class environment. In 1928, she participated in several New Objectivity exhibitions.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait

After a nervous breakdown, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler was hospitalized in the Hamburg-Friedrichsberg psychiatric clinic in 1929, where she produced the "Friedrichsberger Heads", about 60 drawings of in pastels of fellow psychiatric patients.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitAfter her recovery, Lohse-Wächtler experienced another productive phase; &, in 1930-31, showed her work at venues including the prestigious Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitAfter her her mental state deteriorated again, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler returned to her parents' home in Dresden in 1931. At her father's instigation, she was committed to the Arnsdorf psychiatric institution, where she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, The Absinth Drinker (Self-Portrait), 1931
Initially, Lohse-Wächtler had the opportunity to continue her artistic work in Arnsdorf. After the Nazi-régime came into power in 1933, she was "asked" to agree to a voluntary sterilization.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-PortraitShe would not agree to the sterilization and, as a consequence, lost all her "privileges," including producing art.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait 1931In 1935, she was declared mentally incompetent, her marriage with Kurt Lohse was dissolved, and she was sterilized by force under the Nazi Euthanasia Program.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait in Fantastic Company, 1931
Defamed as "degenerate art" in 1937, Lohse-Wächtler's work was in part destroyed. Finally she was killed by the Nazi régime, dying in the gas chamber at Pirna-Sonnenschein under the regulations of the "T4" euthanasia program for the mentally ill in the summer of 1940.

Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait
Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, (German artist, 1899-1940) Self-Portrait

See the impact of the Nazi Regime on other artists here.