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BRM 6

Dorner, Alexander, 1893-1957. Alexander Dorner Collection of Otti Berger Papers, 1937-1955: A Guide

Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
The President and Fellows of Harvard College

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: BRM 6
Repository: Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
Creator: Dorner, Alexander, 1893-1957.
Title: Alexander Dorner Collection of Otti Berger Papers, 1937-1955: A Guide
Date(s): 1937-1955
Quantity: 1 collection (1 folder)
Abstract: Correspondence, original typescripts, and handwritten notes documenting the career and aesthetic theories of textile artist Otti Berger (1898-1944), her life in continental Europe in the late 1930s, and the early reception of her work in the United States.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The collection was donated to the Busch-Reisinger Museum by Alexander Dorner's widow, Lydia Dorner, in 1958.

Processing Information:

The collection was processed in February 2013 by Raphael Koenig, under the supervision of Lynette Roth and Megan Schwenke. The finding aid was revised in July 2014 by Brooke McManus. The finding aid was encoded in May 2016 by Michelle Interrante.

Conditions on Access:

Access: Unrestricted

Conditions on Use:

Copyright: Copyright in the papers in the collection may be held by the authors of the documents, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Harvard Art Museums Archives before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.
Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.

Related Material

This material complements the accessioned works of art and design by Otti Berger in the Busch-Reisinger Museum collection, which include a selection of fabric samples and a manuscript entitled Instructions for Weaving and Dyeing. The Harvard Art Museums Archives holds related materials in the Busch-Reisinger Museum Bauhaus Collection. Additional papers related to Otti Berger are held by Houghton Library in the Walter Gropius Papers. (MS Ger 208).

Biography

Otti Berger (1898-1944) was a Croatian textile artist and designer. She studied at Bauhaus between 1927 and 1930, taking the Vorkurs (introductory course) under László Moholy-Nagy. In 1931, she began supervising the Textile Workshop from which she had just graduated. She developed a distinctive style based on a fusion of the visual and the haptic inspired by Alois Riegl and Moholy, a close cooperation between textile design and industrial production, and an emphasis on the way in which textiles shape interior spaces. In 1932, she left the Bauhaus to open an "Atelier for Textile" in Berlin, but was forced to close it in 1936 when she was banned from working in Germany due to her Jewish origins. She then traveled to the United Kingdom but was unable to find work there; in 1938, she was invited by Moholy to join the New Bauhaus in Chicago, but had difficulties obtaining a visa. She returned instead to Croatia to visit her ailing mother. Unable to leave the country after the outbreak of World War II, Berger was deported with her family to the concentration camps in April 1944 and died in Auschwitz.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

Scope and Content

These documents are related to the career and aesthetic theories of textile artist Otti Berger, her life in continental Europe in the late 1930s, and the early reception of her work in the United States. Formats include correspondence, original typescripts, and handwritten notes. The materials were collected by German art historian, educator, and museum director Alexander Dorner.
The collection contains a 6-page typescript of Berger's Weaving and the Shaping of Space (Weberei und Raumgestaltung), which outlined her aesthetic theories relating to textile art. There is also correspondence to Alexander Dorner from Berger and Walter Gropius, as well as letters written about her after her death by Edith A. Standen and Ludwig Hilberseimer. Additional materials include handwritten notes by Alexander and Lydia Dorner.
The records were originally housed in several binders and folders in no specific order. They were rehoused in an archival folder and box in 2013.

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