Presentation on theme: "MANY LEFT-WING INTELLECTUALS THRILLED TO THE SLOGANS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL BUT SENSED AT SOME POINT THAT THE SOVIET UNION STIFLED ALL DEBATE AND."— Presentation transcript:
MANY LEFT-WING INTELLECTUALS THRILLED TO THE SLOGANS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL BUT SENSED AT SOME POINT THAT THE SOVIET UNION STIFLED ALL DEBATE AND CREATIVITY
Joseph Vissarionovich Jugashvili, code-named “Stalin” (1878-1953): photographed with Lenin in 1922
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940): Ukrainian Jew, cosmopolitan intellectual, founder of the Red Army
Stalin secured the exile of Trotsky in 1927 and soon ordered the rewriting of history, as in this retouched photo of Lenin addressing Red Army recruits in Moscow’s Red Square in May 1920
“We will smite the kulak who agitates for reducing the cultivated area” (USSR, 1930)
“Religion is poison. Safeguard the children” (USSR, 1930)
“Imperialists cannot stop the triumphal march of the Five- Year Plan” (USSR, 1930): Industrialization was needed, Stalin declared, because an Imperialist onslaught was ever more likely….
“RAISE HIGHER THE BANNER OF LENINISM, THE BANNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION” (N. Kochergin, 1932)
THE COMINTERN RECRUITED MANY ARTISTS AND WRITERS TO SUPPORT A “HELP RUSSIA” ANTI-FAMINE CAMPAIGN IN 1921/22 (poster by Käthe Kollwitz) But George Grosz was disillusioned when he met Soviet leaders on a tour of the USSR in 1922: “Many acted like living, red-bound brochures and were proud of it. Naturally they sought, since it was supposed to be the time of the masses, to suppress entirely their little individuality, and would have preferred to have faces of gray cardboard with red numbers on them instead of names.”
George Grosz, “The Pillars of Society” (1926): Kurt Tucholsky wrote, “I know no one who has grasped the modern face of the holders of power right down to the last alcoholic veins as Grosz has. The secret: he not only laughs, he hates.”
George Grosz, Manhattan (1934): He settled in New York in 1932, even before the Nazi seizure of power
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) travelled to Moscow in 1927 to pursue love and a career but learned that the avant-garde was being shut down….
Bruno Voigt (1912-1988), “Anti-War Demonstration” (1932): Art in the style of “socialist realism” imposed by Stalin as official Soviet policy in 1932
Bruno Voigt, “Attack” (1932): The crowd demands “Jobs and Bread”
Bruno Voigt, “Capitalism Has Reached Its Zenith!” (1932)
John Heartfield, “Fathers and Sons,” 1924 (born Helmut Herzfelde in Berlin, 1891; name change in 1916
John Heartfield, “Corpses in the Ditch/ The Last Hope of the Rich” (1932): According to the Comintern, big business could see no way out of the Great Depression except an arms race….
Heartfield, “His Majesty Adolf: I will lead you to glorious slimes!” (1932) [by changing a Z to a PL, the Kaiser’s promise of “glorious times” becomes a promise of bankruptcy].
John Heartfield, “The True Meaning of the Hitler Greeting. ‘Millions Stand Behind Me!’ A Small Man Requests Large Gifts” (1932). Heartfield toured the USSR in 1931/32 but chose NOT to flee there in 1933
Rudolf Schlichter, “Portrait of Bert Brecht” (1926) 1898: Born into a prosperous Augsburg family; his Protestant mother taught him the Bible 1917/18: Evaded war service by enrolling for medical study 1919: Drums in the Night, set in a bar during the Spartacist uprising 1922: In the Jungle of the Cities (inspired by Upton Sinclair) 1926: Man Equals Man (inspired by Kipling) 1927: Brecht collaborates with Erwin Piscator, Kurt Weill, and the dissident Communist theorist Karl Korsch
Act II of DRUMS IN THE NIGHT (Berlin premier, 1922): The denizens of a bar are wrapped up in their private miseries as the Spartacists attempt their uprising
In the Jungle of the Cities (Chicago production from 2010): “You are in Chicago in 1912. You are about to witness an inexplicable wrestling match between two men and observe the downfall of a family that has moved from the prairies to the jungle of the big city. Don’t worry your heads about the motives for the fight, concentrate on the stakes. Judge impartially the technique of the contenders, and keep your eyes fixed on the finish.”
Erwin Piscator (1893-1966) was an educated bourgeois, pacifist combat veteran, and KPD member. His “New Playhouse” in Berlin deployed slideshows, film, elevators, etc. Brecht, Grosz, and Heartfield all worked here in 1927/28 to help create a “political theater”
Deluge integrated film clips of insurrectionary crowds into the live action (dir. Piscator, premier on February 20, 1926) Piscator designed a tiered stage to mirror the class divisions of German society
Rasputin, the Romanovs, the War, and the People that Arose Against Them, directed by Piscator, co-written by Brecht; premier on November 10, 1927. Brecht found such overt political didacticism tiresome, but he began to study the writings of Marx and Lenin with Karl Korsch.
“The Piscator Stage,” caricature in Simplicissimus, January 1928. “Piscator, the priest of the new deus ex machina, whips the revolutionary spirit forward with the cry, ‘Make money!’”