Man and Mask

Oskar Schlemmer and the Bauhaus Stage

Oskar Schlemmer did not confine his activities at the Bauhaus to painting and teaching sculpture. He also wanted to put his ideas about ballet into practice, and in 1922 he did so in public for the first time. He planned to free the stage from the trappings of tradition in order to give expression to the 'pure idea.' The central theme of his work was the relation between humankind and space, and the mediator between these two was to be the dancer, stripped of his individual identity by the use of costumes and masks.

This documentary film, made with the artistic advice of Oskar Schlemmer's widow, presents an historically faithful, precise reconstruction of some of his dances. More than any other film, it gives a sense of what Bauhaus teaching was really like, and is truly important to an understanding of the origins of contemporary dance.

Biographical Details
Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943) is one of the central personalities of the Bauhaus, and a unique contributor to modern German art, yet his work is not as well known as it deserves to be. Initially Impressionistic in style, then passing through a Cubist phase, Schlemmer's mature pictorial work uses human figures, silhouetted in front, back or side view, displaced across the surface in static states or suspended movement. The articulation of limbs is angular, and all lines of direction and composition seem subject to quasi-mechanical regularity. In some paintings the figures are built up into a curious shallow relief. Perhaps his most famous picture depicts wooden-seeming figures ascending an angular modern staircase


Director: Margarete Hasting
Original music: Eric Fersti:

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Catalog number #517

27 minutes Color

Age Range: 10 to Adult

Closed Captions and Interactive Transcript

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