Empire of Ecstasy
Nudity and Movement in German Body Culture, 1910–1935
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS
Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California
Empire of Ecstasy offers an interpretation of the explosion
in German body culture between nudism and nude dancing,
gymnastics and dance training, dance photography and criticism,
and diverse genres of performance from solo dancing to mass movement choirs.
Karl Toepfer presented a dynamic subject as a vital and historically unique construction of modern identity.
The modern body, radiating freedom and power, appeared to Weimar artists
and intelligentsia to be the source of a transgressive energy,
as well as the sign and manifestation of powerful, mysterious
inner conditions. Toepfer shows how this view of the modern body
sought to extend the aesthetic experience beyond the boundaries imposed by rationalized life and to transcend these limits in search of ecstasy.
With the help of much unpublished or forgotten archival material
(including many little known photographs), he investigates the process
of constructing an empire of appropriate impulses toward ecstasy.
Karl Toepfer presents the work of such well known figures as Rudolf Laban,
Mary Wigman, and Oskar Schlemmer, along with lesser known
but equally fascinating body culture practitioners.