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Nollendorf-Casino/Venue of the Neopathetisches Cabaret

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“Our ‘new pathos’ was, like all pathos, at first a feeling of being moved, but not only in our feelings, like the old, intellectually subservient, and thus all the more hollow sounding ‘pathetics’ […]. Yet, it was also of a new kind that did not shut down the intellect, but also did not, as we had been taught as students, only allow it to be effective within the framework of a theory and complicated, historically well-founded doctrine.” 

Erwin Loewenson, writer and co-founder of the Neopathetisches Cabaret, looking back on the group’s central idea, 1962

Nollendorfcasino, 1919, picture postcard, Archive of the Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

Dissatisfied with what was going on in Berlin’s student associations, a handful of students came together in 1909 in the so-called Fledermaus Salon of the Nollendorf Casino. Not far from Nollendorfplatz, they founded an alternative association in the popular artists’ haunt, namely the Neue Club (New club). Led by the writers Kurt Hiller and Erwin Loewenson, the group wanted to create a place for presenting and discussing their own artistic and literary works. Just one year later, the club was renamed the Neopathetisches Cabaret [für Abenteuer des Geistes] (Neopathetic cabaret for adventures of mind). The new name sought to make it clear: the focus wasn’t on simple entertainment, but rather on the combination of art, literature, and philosophy. Evening readings, lectures, and musical performances regularly took place. The guests included writers like Karl Kraus and Georg Heym, known for his urban poetry, as well as the actress Tilla Durieux and the writer and painter Else Lasker-Schüler.

One core member of the group was the writer Simon Guttmann. Through his interest in both Expressionist poetry and art, the young art history student met the Brücke artists’ group in the early 1910s. Enthusiastic about their work, he became an important link between the two associations. He invited the Brücke artists to the Neopathetisches Cabaret’s events, where Heym’s big city poems left a lasting impression on Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in particular. Furthermore, Erich Heckel, who had a deep affinity with literature, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff were also interested visitors. The latter even designed a signet for the Cabaret’s program in 1912.

Guttmann put a lot of effort into promoting Brücke art. He wanted to include some of their prints in the planned but never published newspaper Neopathos, and he published articles about the artists in magazines like Der Demokrat. The Brücke artists in turn expressed their appreciation of the author in several portraits.

Valentina Bay

Explore Berlin through the Eyes of the Brücke Artists
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