Lotte Laserstein was one of the many artists whose career was stunted by the Nazis. Under their new racial laws in 1933 she was deemed three-quarters Jewish and banned from participating in public cultural life. The work on show here is taken from her time in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s and subsequent life in exile in Sweden. An incredibly gifted portraitist, Laserstein’s sketches of contorted male nudes and paintings of modernly dressed and coiffured women are punctuated by a series of self-portraits running through each of the five rooms that follow her career. As Laserstein ages by her own hand, she depicts both the past and future in her work: a portrait of her grandmother in a traditional widow’s bonnet with the milky film of cataracts creeping over her eyes as she stares defeatedly into the middle distance, while the future is present in a figure confidently standing in front of a motorbike, the latest in transport technology. This is a show that correctly emphasises how underappreciated Laserstein was in her time, and the Berlinische’s inclusion of photographs and magazines from their collection add exceptional detail to telling her story. However, the addition of paintings by her mainly male contemporaries feels at odds with this and somewhat dulls a forgotten star’s shine.
Lotte Laserstein: Face to Face Through Aug 12