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1920s Costumes Made And Modelled By The Avant-Garde Couple Lavinia Schulz And Walter Holdt.⁠⁠

Born in 1896, Lavinia Schulz possessed an innate talent that defied convention. Alongside her husband, Walter Holdt, born in 1899, she embarked on a journey of artistic exploration that would challenge societal norms and redefine the boundaries of expressionism.

Schulz and Holdt crafted these elaborate costumes specifically for their dance performances, operating under the moniker "Die Maskentänzer" (The Mask Dancers). These ensembles transcend mere clothing, resembling sculptures that envelop the wearer entirely.

Their designs evoke a whimsical amalgamation of characters — from bug-eyed insects to jesters to bearded tomatoes — while also hinting at dynamic movement, with exaggerated eyeballs seemingly ready to leap off the face. Intricate wires protrude, and wooden blocks dangle, creating a surreal landscape where even a bridge teeters precariously from shoulder to shoulder. Many of these geometric silhouettes defy conventional anatomy, enclosing hands, feet, and heads within confining structures, devoid of any discernible exit. The vibrant and discordant colors were reportedly chosen according to esoteric principles. Yet, amidst this fantastical display, Schulz and Holdt's craftsmanship, particularly their meticulous sewing, remains impeccably matched to their boundless imagination.

Schulz undeniably assumed the role of the duo's leader. She oversaw the creation of costumes, choreographed the dances, and staunchly upheld the artists' distinctive philosophy, which equated aesthetic significance with adversity. According to Schulz, the essence of live performance lay in its intensity, achievable only when the performer immersed herself in a heightened state of mind, facilitated by privation. Schulz famously asserted, "Art must be demanding; otherwise, it holds no value." Embracing austerity, deprivation, and rigorous self-discipline wasn't merely a means of enduring the challenges of a creative existence but rather a prerequisite for producing anything of genuine worth.

Six months following the capture of these photographs, tragedy struck on June 18, 1924, when Schulz fatally shot Holdt in the head before turning the gun on herself. The couple succumbed to their wounds, leaving behind their one-year-old infant son, who wasn't inhured.

Following the tragic murder-suicide, the couple's apartment underwent clearance, and their possessions were relocated to the Hamburg Museum of Arts and Crafts, where they were stored in the attic. For sixty years, these items remained forgotten—a serendipitous oversight that played a crucial role. Had the collection been meticulously cataloged, it would have likely been looted by the Nazis.



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