University of Leicester
U482040.pdf (106.75 MB)

Women artists and the Neue Sachlichkeit: Grethe Jurgens and Gerta Overbeck.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:16 authored by Marsha Gretta. Meskimmon
This work examines the complex relationship between gender and the work of women artists associated with the Neue Sachlichkeit. The critical 'realism' of the Weimar Republic has become best-known through the work of artists such as Otto Dix, George Grosz and Christian Schad, but a number of women artists also engaged with the aesthetic, including Grethe Jurgens and Gerta Overbeck. Jurgens and Overbeck were part of the Hanoverian regional variation of the Neue Sachlichkeit which flourished between 1925 and 1938. In this thesis, the works of Jurgens and Overbeck are examined with particular reference to the gender politics of the Weimar Republic. Rather than rely upon masculine-normative practices which privilege individual artists and biographical techniques, this thesis explores four themes in the representations of the artists within the wider context of gendered cultural ideology. The first chapter takes as its theme the asymmetrical situation of men and women with respect to the concept of the 'artist' and evaluates the ways in which women realists of the period produced strong, artistic identities through their art. Chapter Two explores the pervasive association of domesticity with women in terms of the representations produced by Jurgens and Overbeck. The third and fourth chapters turn toward the public sphere and examine the ways in which gender conditioned the responses of the artists to the subjects of other women and politics. This work is vital for three reasons. First, it provides information about the work of a number of artists hitherto under-researched and under-valued. Second, the work attests to the active role of gender in the Neue Sachlichkeit and exposes the male-centredness of the movement. Third, it combines theoretical ideas and practice meaningfully; it is an example of feminist praxis in the study of women artists.


Date of award


Author affiliation

History of Art and Film

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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