A Prosthetic Economy: Representing the ‘Kriegskrüppel’ in the Weimar Republic

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For George Grosz, Otto Dix, Heinrich Hoerle and other erstwhile German Dadaists of their generation, the neglected, disabled male war veteran - selling matches, playing cards, operating machinery on the factory assembly-line or begging on the streets - became a stock-in-trade of their early Weimar oeuvre, whose female counterpart was the (often syphilitic) urban prostitute. The 'cripple' and the 'whore' were the symbolic visual tropes in the masculine avant garde's arsenal against the socio-political inequities of the fragile German Republic. With a particular focus on work made by Heinrich Hoerle, this essay will explore how the body of the disabled war veteran was used by the leftist avant-garde as a visual symptom for the diseased 'body politic.' It contends that the artworks produced reveal more about Weimar politics and the construction of 'normalcy' and the 'ideal' during this period, than they do about the disabled veterans they depict.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArt History
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2019


  • Weimar Republic
  • Disability Studies
  • Heinrich Hoerle
  • Cologne Dada
  • Art History

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