| Our Difficult Beautiful Subject | MR Online

“Our difficult, beautiful subject”: Peter H. Feist’s Marxist method

Originally published: Selva on June 2024 by Tamara Golan and Felix Jäger (more by Selva) (Posted Jul 03, 2024)

In a striking photograph, Otto Karl Werckmeister captured Peter H. Feist—widely regarded as the leading art historian of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR)—at the sculpture garden of the Georg Kolbe Museum in Berlin. Feist, dressed in a sharp blue suit, fixes his attentive gaze on the viewer, holding his camera poised at the ready. Taken at the birthday celebration of cultural heritage expert Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper in the summer of 2002, the snapshot immortalizes the encounter of two scholars who shared a Marxist approach to art history across the German divide; while one is remembered for his contributions to leftist critical discourse, the other is mostly forgotten because of his association with cultural authoritarianism. When presented with the photograph, Werckmeister recalled Feist commenting,

This is how I would like to see myself.

| Otto Karl Werckmeister Peter H Feist on Gabi Dolff Bonekämpers Birthday 2002 Color photograph Private collection of OK Werckmeister | MR Online

Otto Karl Werckmeister, Peter H. Feist on Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper’s Birthday, 2002. Color photograph. (Photo: Private collection of O.K. Werckmeister)

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