“Art Work as Life Work: Lu Märten's Feminist ‘Objectivity’” highlights the feminist stakes of German feminist-materialist art historian Lu Märten's interventions in the interwar discourses on art and labor, on objectivity (Sachlichkeit), and the new media of film and radio. The essay argues that Märten's contributions to these areas sit squarely within more familiar narratives of materialist aesthetics and Weimar culture (from Walter Benjamin's epochal Artwork Essay to the Bauhaus) and that they do so on account of her heterodox reading of Marx and commitment to Spinoza's monism. In Märten's view, this non-binary materialism offered an alternative, non-Hegelian route to a materialist conception of art or as she preferred to say, form. In contrast to art history's academic formalism, Märten espouses a notion of form that does not maintain art's autonomy but instead connects art to other social fields. Here form always evolves out of informality. The essay traces the close bond between art work and life work across Märten's multiple publications, including her theoretical magnum opus Essence and Transformation of Forms/Arts and her studies on The Economic Conditions of Artists and The Female Artist. In so doing, the text contributes to revisiting the firm boundaries that art history has drawn between objects and communities.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.