Rudolf Schlichter’s Women’s Club: decadence and satire

The German artist portrays a night out at the women’s club in 1920s Berlin

Vice city …

In the aftermath of the first world war, 1920s Berlin emerged as a place of high spirits and anguish. Or, as the taboo-busting androgynous nude dancer Anita Berber put it in one of her most famous expressionist routines, “Vice, Horror and Ecstasy”.

Get real …

Rudolf Schlichter’s prints and watercolours portray the denizens of the city’s night haunts. A pioneer of New Objectivity alongside George Grosz and Otto Dix, he captured its decadence with a potent brew of expressionism, realism and satire.

Independent women …

Women’s Club from 1925 depicts Topkeller, a lesbian club where Berber performed. Its crowd of “New Women” had recently been granted the vote; they sport cropped hair and blur gender boundaries with their dress.

Kinky boots …

The buttoned, knee-length, high-heeled boots were a predilection of Schlichter’s. As a student, he earned his crust making pornographic prints under an assumed name, and S&M-tinged erotica became a speciality.

Rudolf Schlichter’s Women’s Club, 1925

Included in Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican Art Gallery, EC2, to 19 January

Contributor

Skye Sherwin

The GuardianTramp

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