Weimar Germany was an intensely culturally creative moment in German and European history. The liberalism imposed on German society by the establishment of the republic was a political and economic failure, but it helped to unleash creative energies in music, film, art, and literature. The violent unrest and reactionary politics that emerged forced many artists to flee to the United States in search of greater freedom to pursue their work. Interestingly, many of these cultural figures eschewed New York, Boston and other more familiar cultural centers for the sunnier and less-established city of Los Angeles. LA was both a cultural tabula rasa and a bastion of middlebrow American cultural conservatism. This unique mix of newness, freedom, and democratic cultural norms transformed German modernism and American arts.
In a collaborative three-day workshop, the Harman Academy and London’s Legatum Institute will explore how the artistic freedom of American democracy, the unique setting of Los Angeles, and the complex cultural and political heritage of Weimar Germany intersected to create a new and lasting contemporary artistic voice.