Unlike photography, the painting and drawing of dance did not always entail the conscious collaboration of dancers. In general, expressionist artists tended to represent dance (ubiquitously designated by female bodies) as a primeval or archaic impulse emanating from nature, from paradise, from intense colors and emotions concealed behind merely empirical images of natural phenomena; Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were perhaps the most powerful creators of this perspective on dance. However, artists of the so-called New Objectivity, which emerged around 1924, tended to represent dance "realistically," as a symptom of the urgent rhythms defining modern urban life and a sign, often, of the dark, lurid,
even morbid forces guiding the urbanization of the body; Otto Dix and Karl Hubbuch were but two of many powerful creators of this perspective.
But the distinction between expressionism and New Objectivity was not altogether as solid as many supposed, nor was the difference between the two in their perception of dance. For example, in "Salome," his lascivious series of color drawings done in 1930, Leo Putz (1869–1940) used expressionist devices to show how the primeval archetypal image of the dancer embedded a feminine sadistic desire to tempt, taunt, tease, and torment both the male and female spectator (Poetter 44–47). In Berlin, the Hungarian painter Hugo Scheiber (1873–1950) employed aggressive expressionist effects in numerous pictures of dancers to show dance as the strongest manifestation of ecstatic energies latent in the city rather than in nature, as in his turbulent 1927 image of a woman dancing in the most peculiar circumstance of wearing glasses (Figure 70) (Schmidt). By contrast, Fritz Uphoff, educated in the utopian milieu of the Worpswede colony, used the extremely precise techniques of realist New Objectivity in painting his idealized 1930 image of the dancer Erika Vogt (one of many portraits he did of her) (Figure 71). Here the platinum-haired, bronze-skinned dancer seems to move delicately, as if under a remote spell, toward an unexpected ecstasy, despite the black wall or void that presses in on her: "from the invisible background radiates a hidden light like a quiet hope" (Küster, Kunstwerkstatt, 158). In his fascinating 1918 portrait of the Bremen dancer Marna Glahn (aka Glaan), the Communist Heinrich Vogeler (1872–1942), another Worpswede artist, shows the head and shoulders of the dancer rising out of a waterfall and bushes, with nude female bodies flowing out of her head and dancing in the sea above her. However, the expression on her face does "not mirror happiness as present, but as a shimmer of hope," as a "sign of unfulfilled dreams" (Hoffmeister 14). Thus, the rising body of the dancer appears between the empty idyll of nature and the nude utopia of which women dream.
In Vienna in 1919, Professor Franz Cizek (1865–1946) at the Academy of Applied Arts began teaching "kineticism," which fused expressionist, cubist, futurist, and constructivist aesthetics to represent the movement of objects and the dynamic properties of forms and spaces. The image of the dancing body was for Cizek the key to achieving this synthesis (or "simultanism") of aesthetic styles. Dance had long attracted him; in 1912, he had even turned down an offer to teach at Dalcroze's new school in Hellerau. Soon he became friends with the writer and arts publicist L. W. Rochowanski, who himself performed expressionist dances in Vienna, Prague, and Krakow with his wife, Katja Kandinsky, during the war years (Markhof 49). Rochowanski published a book, Der Formwille der Zeit in der angewandten Künste (1922), that featured numerous illustrations of works exhibited by Cizek's students in Vienna. It was an exciting collection of paintings, draw-
ings, sculptures, and designs that showed the ecstatic movement of abstract forms, colors, lines, and human figures through space, "the turning and surrounding of the body" (23). Buildings, mountains, storms, and typography undulated, swirled, and plunged like dancing bodies; nude dancing bodies "radiated" waves of rhythmic patterns in pencil, paint, wood, clay.
These works came from thirty-five students, most of whom were women, including Trude Fischl, Franziska Kantor, Irmgard Lang, Herta Müller-Schulda, Gertrude Neuwirth, Johann Scheibner, Heinz Reichenfelser. Though many of these students subsequently pursued quite obscure lives, their achievements here suggested the great potential of the dancing body, as a "kinetic form," to awaken an ecstatic artistic imagination in a wide range of personalities. One of Cizek's students, Harry Täuber, designed sets and lighting for Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste when they visited Vienna in 1922 (Berber). Another very gifted student, Erika Giovanna Klien (1900–1957), designed a wild cubo-expressionist-constructivist poster-kiosk to announce "Anita Berber dances" (1924); with her "simultaneous structures," "Klien developed entire dramas in an image" (Markhof 21). Her enthusiasm for dance remained strong; she did numerous drawings of dancers, an exhilarating dance frieze (1924), designs for a "kinetic marionette theatre" (1924), even kinetic designs for bank notes. After Elisabeth Duncan visited the Cizek classes in 1923, Klien decided to study under her, then accepted (1926) an offer to teach at the new Duncan school in Klessheim. The American modernist art collector Katherine Dreier arranged to have some of Klien's works displayed in 1926 at the International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York. When in 1929 she migrated to the United States, where she taught art at exclusive private schools for girls in New York and Chicago, Klien maintained her connection to the Duncan school in New York and devised dance dramas for her own students, although she faced continual resistance from school administrators. Even though her art evolved toward geometric dynamism, she never abandoned her perception of the kinetic dancing body as the commanding sign of, as she put it, a propulsive tension "between abstraction and eroticism" (Markhof 22).
In Berlin, Luise Grimm (1900–?) displayed an altogether different expressionism in her representation of dance. She had taken lessons in Ausdruckstanz , but a stark Christian mysticism pervaded her art. Tanzszene (1923), a woodcut, depicted bodies of dancers as naked forms of light in a black void; a female dancer leaps toward the pinnacle of a pyramid of light that has the effect of hurling the male dancers away from it: "the thin, delicate bodies look like marionette figures" (Ruthenberg 51) (Figure 72). In 1924, Grimm saw Mary Wigman's group dance in Berlin, and she did several woodcuts, drawings, and ink sketches of the group. One image was especially fascinating (Figure 73). Here four ghostly figures stand in a
strange swirl of plantlike shadows. The faces of the standing figures are of varying size; it appears as if they are not on the same plane, even though they stand next to each other. One of the faces resembles Wigman, another Georgi. Before the standing figures moves a faceless woman, but Grimm signifies her movement through the swirl of her dress—her arms, torso, and head remain rigid. She seems to dance for the standing figures, but the eyes of these women are closed, with the Wigman and Georgi faces bearing faintly Oriental expressions. In this image, dance appears as the creation of alien beings from an eerie world of shadows, the mysterious ritual of foreign creatures who can move blindly, without eyes, and can see beautiful movement without opening their eyes (53–61).
However, no German artists of the dance, not even Schlemmer and his adepts at the Bauhaus, represented dance with the extreme level of abstraction achieved by several of the De Stijl artists in Holland between 1916 and 1928, beginning with Theo Van Doesburg's (1883–1931) still vaguely figural paintings Dance I (1916) and Dance II (1916), and then the much more abstract stained-glass windows of these works (1917). With Rhythm of a Russian Dance (1918) Doesburg had virtually eliminated the body altogether from the image and reduced the movement of the dance to conjunctions of differently colored vertical and horizontal lines. Elegant costume designs by Piet Zwart from 1920, though much more figural, nevertheless indicated the authority of costume to impose rectilinear order on the curvilinear languidity of the dancing body. But perhaps the most radical De Stijl image of dance was the Mechanical Dancing Figure (1920–1923) of Vilmos Huszar (1884–1960). The artist constructed a male robotic body entirely out of wooden blocks and intended the figure to dance in a completely automated theatre using, according to Huszar, "electro-mechanical or coloristic-cinematographic means." However, the debut performance of the "plastic drama" in 1923 actually resembled a kind of shadow play (Troy 649–650). Dance, as the De Stijl artists defined it, referred to jazz or popular dances and to traditional ethnic dances of Indonesia, not to modern dance. Jazz and Balinese dances came from "primitive" peoples and therefore did not suffer from the pathological pretensions of European art, as Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) remarked in 1926: "All modern dances look dull next to [Josephine Baker's] powerful, sustained concentration of speed" (645).
Dance for De Stijl artists motivated an art "conceived with reference to a primitive means of expression that the artist sought to transpose into abstract, mechanistic terms" (644). The tenth anniversary issue of De Stijl (VII) in 1927 contained an article by Valentin Parnac describing a performance of his dance Epopèe at the Meyerhold Theatre in Moscow in 1925. In this work, Parnac sought to eliminate all curved lines from choreography and to develop "the tendency towards denaturalization [of the body] . . . based on the contrast of horizontal and vertical movement"
(Jaffé 188–189). By this time, however, Van Doesburg had moved toward what he called "elementarism," the signification of abstract kinetic power through diagonal lines rather than through the "pure" vertical-horizontal conjunctions demanded by Mondrian, who subsequently left De Stijl over this issue. In 1928, Van Doesburg made stunning application of his diagonal aesthetic in the radically sleek design of the Cafe Aubette cinema-dance theatre in Strasbourg, whereas Mondrian moved toward the purified rectilinearity of "Broadway Boogie Woogie" (1942). But another Dutch artist with only a tentative connection to De Stijl, Willem Van Leusden (1886–1974), did a series of drawings of dancers in 1926–1927 that severely abstracted the body (rather than the movement) of the dancer to a complex of triangles and circles, triangles and spheres, or triangles and cones (Adelaar 102). Yet one should remember that the Dutch fascination with "primitive" dance did not necessarily lead to a repudiation of expressionism, for the artists affiliated with the modernist arts journal Wendingen pursued a much more mystical image of form and the body, which Jaap Kool, among others, articulated in articles on Balinese dance, the Ballets Russes, Grit Hegesa, and Gertrud Leistikow.
In 1933 Helene von Taussig published a book of twenty-four charcoal drawings of Harald Kreutzberg dancing. These minimalist motions studies attempted to establish bodily movement rather than physiognomy as the salient feature of Kreutzberg's dance persona (although the dancer's bald head assumes a very assertive presence in all the drawings). In plate 9 the artist assigned a vaguely feminine identity to the dancer by making his hips wide and curvaceous; in plate 24 his body seems peculiarly Negroid. The main fascination of the drawings lies in Taussig's effort to show how movement individuates the body—or, at least, how a peculiar physiognomy produces peculiar forms of movement. This approach differentiated Taussig's images from Kandinsky's purely geometric images of Palucca. Taussig strove to create, in a few broad strokes, a complex image of intense muscular nudity, emotional turbulence, and rapturous action. Kreutzberg leaps, runs, twists, his arms spread, thrusting, or propelling; he exists in a white void, as if every movement were the negation of an inescapable emptiness. The artist designated movement by using lines of two thicknesses, fat and thin, with each thickness given a variety of weights, determined by the degree of pressure exerted on the charcoal as it moved across the paper. She further complicated the images by setting strokes describing bodily features in different directions, so that it appears as if powerful dance movement occurs when the body is somehow divided by contradictory energies. A heavy thin line may contradict a light fat line, but the thin line may designate only the bald head, whereas the fat line may construct the torso and leg, thus conveying the sense that most of the body is less clearly definable than the head. Movement challenges the definability of the body. The desirability of the
male body for the female artist depends on this display of contradictory energies released through dance. But this desire is perhaps visible only through a reductivist pleasure in abstraction.
In Germany, however, the dancing body appeared perhaps too volatile, too pervasive, and too saturated with erotic connotations to lead the visual imagination toward the extreme, ascetic abstractionism of De Stijl. The German dance culture compelled perception to focus on the body itself, not on the abstract forms that "transcended" the body and therefore constituted a "pure" vision. For De Stijl, dance was a "problem" of imperfect bodily form, which the artist solved by striving toward a rectilinear utopia of "absolute equilibrium." The convoluted instability of expressionism was a more appropriate aesthetic for disclosing the emotional disturbances, the distortions of desire, and the sheer perceptual violence provoked by the body and its impulse to dance. The expressionist image of dance achieved its rawest intensity in the work of the Flemish artist Frans Masereel (1889–1970), whose "novels in woodcuts" remained popular in Germany after the publication of Die Idee (1920). His almost lewd woodcut of Jazz (1931) shows three looming, demonic black musicians in tuxedos urging a nude white woman to dance with orgasmic ecstasy (Figure 74). Here the crude, dark force of the "primitive" is what drives the female body to uncontrolled freedom and vulnerability, but the message achieves conviction through the bold, expressionist juxtaposition of burning whiteness and surging blackness. Yet despite its racism, this image of dance never elicited the controversy associated with The Breakdown (1926), by the English artist John Bulloch Souter (1890–1971) (Figure 75). In this painting, Souter applied the realist techniques of New Objectivity to the image of a nude white woman dancing to the saxophone of a single tuxedoed black man. Unlike the woman in Masereel's picture, Souter's incandescent woman dances not wildly but slowly, as if in a trance, yet ecstatically. The musician gazes not at the woman but out toward the spectator, and the implication is that jazz and dance together allow man and woman to cross racial barriers and form a new and mysteriously intimate (or trusting) sort of couple, each immersed in separate aspirations. The space common to them both is defined by the broken monumental statue upon which the musician sits. The collapsed classical order represented by the heroic statue has been replaced by a new order of symmetry: the music of black maleness achieves cool equilibrium with the dance of white femaleness. This beautiful painting from England, with its cool, rational rejection of primitivism and cautious curiosity about a new mode of romanticism to replace the fallen classical ideal of power, entailed an erotic image of dance that neither expressionism nor New Objectivity in Germany, no matter how "rawly" or intensely they saw dance, presented with such nakedness or disturbing detachment.