It was the age of drag balls, Metropolis, and Josephine Baker. Of scientific breakthroughs, literary verve, and the political chaos of the Weimar Republic. After the best-selling Hollywood in the 30s and Jazz: New York in the Roaring Twenties, illustrator Robert Nippoldt teams up with author Boris Pofalla to evoke the fast-moving, freewheeling metropolis that was Berlin in the 1920s.
Like a cinematographic city tour through time, Berlin of the Roaring Twenties takes in the urban scale and the intricate details of this transformative decade, from sweeping street panoramas, bejeweled with new electric lights, to the foxtrot and tango steps tapped out on dance floors all over town. With characteristic graphic mastery of light, shadow, and expression, as well as a silver-printing sheen, Nippoldt intersperses portraits with cityscapes, revealing the changing scenery and dynamic hubs of this burgeoning and rapidly industrializing capital, as well as the extraordinary protagonists that made up its hotbed scene of art, science, and ideas.
With an avid eye on the eccentrics and outlaws who set the tone in this heady age as much as the established “greats,” Nippoldt includes rich profiles not only of the likes of Lotte Reiniger, Christopher Isherwood, Albert Einstein, Kurt Weill, Marlene Dietrich, and George Grosz, but also of “the woman with ten brains” Thea Alba, “Einstein of Sex” Magnus Hirschfeld, and the city’s notorious criminal Adolf Leib. The book also showcases some of the most prominent cultural and political phenomena of the time, whether the most iconic film characters or the frenzied chaos of the Weimar government cabinet.
But beyond the people and the places, above all the book captures the incomparable and ineffable spirit of time and place, of an epoch suspended between two world wars and a country caught between joie-de-vivre daring and the darkness of encroaching National Socialism. Before the night falls, Nippoldt shows it all to us: the bright lights and the backstage whispers, the looming factories and the theoretical physics, the roar of the sports hall and the hush of the theater, the songs of the Comedian Harmonists, the satire of George Grosz, and that gender-bending icon Marlene Dietrich, as she lights up a cigarette in top hat, tuxedo, and come-to-bed eyes.