Otto Nagel, 1894-1967

(Otto Nagel, 1894-1967 )

GDR, 1970, 22 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles


Otto Nagel (1894-1967)—the painter from Wedding—critically reflected on his times through his art. In his paintings, pastels and drawings, he depicted social misery, but also the class consciousness of the proletariat. This poetic documentary uses autobiographical notes by Otto Nagel to follow the stages of artist’s life: his start in the Berlin worker’s district of Wedding; his visit to the Soviet Union, where he met his later wife; his experiences during WWII; and his postwar artistic and political work in East Germany.


Nagel, a communist and lay painter, was an important German proletarian painter, whose works paved the way for Socialist Realism in the GDR. After WWII, Nagel became involved in East German cultural policies, co-founding the Kulturbund and serving as president of the Academy of Arts from 1956 to 1960. The film—by director Karlheinz Mund, who specialized in films on artists—includes historic photographs of the artist, images of well-known works by Nagel, as well as an interview with the artist’s wife.



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