Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: June 1, 2023 - Last updated: September 1, 2023


Author: Jessica Davis

Title: War of the Vulva

Subtitle: The Women of Otto Dix's Lustmord Series

In: German #MeToo: Rape Cultures and Resistance, 1770-2020

Edited by: Elisabeth Krimmer and Patricia Anne Simpson

Place: Rochester, NY

Publisher: Boydell & Brewer

Year: 2022 (Publiehed online: October 8, 2022)

Pages: 145-170

Series: Women and Gender in German Studies 10

ISBN-13: 9781640141353 (hardcover) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106062 (EPUB) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106055 (PDF) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | European History: German History | Types: Lust Murder; Representations: Art / Otto Dix


- Cambridge Core (Restricted Access)

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Lecture: Davis, Jessica. »War of the Vulva: The Women of Otto Dix's Lustmord Series.« Forty-Third Conference of the German Studies Association. San Diego 2019. - Bibliographic Entry: Info

Summary: »In 1921, a sex worker was murdered near German artist and World War I veteran Otto Dix's Dresden studio. According to his friend Kurt Gunther, Dix, when questioned by police, claimed that he probably would have had to commit such a murder himself if he had not been able to paint his own murder scenes. Years later, Dix repeated this profoundly disturbing statement to filmmaker Fritz Lang, confessing that he would have to commit a sex crime in real life if he could not create his Lustmord (Sexual Death) series on canvas.
This study seeks to understand what Maria Tatar describes as "the drive to disfigure the female body-a representational practice that becomes evident in the many post-World War I works bearing the name of Lustmord." Otto Dix's Lustmord series (Figs. 6.1-6.6) consists of six works created between 1920 and 1922, one hundred years before the recent "#MeToo" movement. These works depict graphic, grotesque imagery of viciously murdered women, traditionally understood to be sex workers. They are typically nude or in their underclothes, on the bed or nearby on the floor, and in sexually suggestive poses with their legs splayed and their genitalia mutilated. Notably, in a diary he kept while fighting on the front in the First World War, Dix bitterly declared, "Eigentlich, wird im letzten Grunde blos aller Krieg um und wegen der Vulva gefuhrt" (Actually, in the final analysis all war is waged over and for the vulva). The fact that Dix connects war with women and sex and then later proceeded to attack the vulva on canvas suggests a relationship of cause and effect--linking sexual violence with power. In depicting the mutilation of sex workers, Dix symbolically judged and executed a group of women who are often perceived as representative of the decaying morals of Weimar society and, according to Dix, of a war that, he believed, was caused by the vulva. The destruction of female genitals and of the female form as such also undermines long-held artistic notions of feminine beauty and the female nude in academic art. According to Dix, "Alle Kunst ist Meisterschaft" (All art is mastery), which suggests that the Lustmord series could be read as an attempt to figuratively regain mastery over women; if not in the real world, then at least on canvas.« (Source: Cambridge Core)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Germany / Weimar Republic | Painting: Otto Dix | Sex and the law: Lust murder