Lost future

Lotte Laserstein at her easel

Fotografie von Wanda von Debschitz-Kunowski, Silbergelatinepapier und Print vom Original-Glasnegativ, 40 x 30 cm
© Urheberrechte am Werk erloschen

The black-and-white photograph shows the painter Lotte Laserstein in profile. The dark-haired woman is concentrating on her work at the canvas. In her right hand she holds a brush, in her left hand a palette and more brushes. In the visible section of the painting, three people are grouped around a table.

Lotte Laserstein (1898–1993) was one of the first women to study at the art academy in Berlin. She graduated in 1927 and was soon making her mark with thoughtful portraits. This picture by photographer Wanda von Debschitz-Kunowski shows Laserstein at work with the proud attributes of her trade – white smock, brush and palette. On the easel is one of her most important works, “Evening over Potsdam”. The painting was done at a time when the glitter of the twenties had already given way to the austerity of the world economic crisis. Many people were disillusioned about the future and lacked direction. These feelings are reflected in Laserstein’s painting. The friends gathered in the evening twilight are silent and introspective – a powerful depiction of the widespread uncertainty and lethargy at the end of the Weimar Republic. In the photograph, Laserstein also seems to turn inward. Her gaze does not rest on the painting but is lost in the emptiness.

National Socialism put an abrupt end to Laserstein’s promising career debut. As a “three-quarter Jew” she fled to Sweden in 1937 and never returned to Germany.

Wanda von Debschitz-Kunowski (1870–1935), Photographer
Untitled (Lotte Laserstein in front of "Abend über Potsdam")
Silver gelatin paper, print of the original glass negative
40 x 30 cm
Gifted from private owner, 2009

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