Monday, 11 February 2019

Elsa Lasker-Schüler (1869 – 1945) – German Poet and Artist

Elsa Lasker-Schüler (1869 – 1945) – German Poet and Artist

The Queen of Expressionism

Elsa was born on 11th February 1869  in Elberfeld, which is now a suburb of Wuppertal, in Germany. Her parents were Aaron Schueler – a banker – and his wife, Jeanette.

In 1894, Elsa married Jonathan Berthold Lasker, who was a doctor.  They settled in Berlin, where Elsa’s first volume of poetry was published in 1902.  Jonathan and Elsa were divorced and in 1903, Elsa married Georg Lewin, a German writer and artist who used the pen-name Herwarth Walden .

Elsa died on 22nd January 1945.

Elsa’s poem “Als Der Blaue Reiter War Gefallen… (Translation: As the Blue Rider Died…)
was a comment upon the death of German impressionist painter and printmaker Franz Marc who was a member of the expressionist “Blaue Reiter” group of artists – “Blaue Reiter being the title of their magazine.   In 1913, Franz Marc painted a picture called "Tierschicksale", which seems to predict the slaughter of the First World War.

Franz Marc was killed in France in March 1916.  The following poem was published in “Neue Jugend” Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 11/12, February/March 1917, on page 245.

“Als Der Blaue Reiter War Gefallen…"

Griffen unsere Hände sich wie Ringe:-
Küssten uns wie Brüder auf den Mund.

Harfen wurden unsere Augen,
Als sie weinten: Himmlisches Konzert.

Nun sind unsere Herzen Waisenengel.
Seine tiefgekränkte Gottheit
Ist erloschen in dem Bilde: Tierschicksale.

Translation:  “When the Blue Rider Died”

We clasped our hands in shapes of rings:-
And, like brothers, kissed each other on the lips.

Our eyes became harps
Our tears flowed as a heavenly concert.

Now our hearts are orphaned angels.
His deep-drawn godliness
Has been removed from the picture: the fate of the animals.

The name for the Blue Rider Group (Blaue Reiter) came from a work painted in 1903 by Russian artist Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (1866 – 1944).