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Werckmeister, O. K.

    Full Name: Werckmeister, O. K.

    Other Names:

    • Otto Karl Werckmeister

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 26 April 1934

    Date Died: 09 June 2023

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): art theory, Marxism, and Medieval (European)


    Medievalist and Marxist-methodology art historian at Northwestern and UCLA. Werckmeister’s father, Karl Werckmeister, was an art dealer and his mother, Rose Petzold (Werckmeister) an artist. He married Maria Eugenia Lacarra in 1965. Werckmeister received his Ph.D. from the Ph.D. in 1958 from the Freie Universität in Berlin. He spent his early career researching and publishing on Romanesque manuscript illuminations (and their book covers). In 1971 he moved to the United States, joining the University of California, Los Angeles, as professor of art history. In the United States, as in Germany, he strongly expoused a Marxist approach to art history, examining class ideology as a driving force to artistic creation. This was perhaps most clearly demonstrated in his 1976 essay, “The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry.” The same year, Werckmeister became a founding member of Caucus for Marxism and Art of the College Art Association. The Caucus session delivered papers by other prominent Marxist art historians, including T. J. Clark, Lee Baxandall, Serge Guilbaut. He was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellow for the 1981-1982 year. He divorced his wife in 1983. In 1984 he moved to Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, to become Mary Jane Crowe Distinguished Professor of Art History. He held a fellowship at Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, 1986-1987. He participated on the dissertatin committees of Serge Guilbaut and Thomas E. Crow. His students included and Jane Welch Williams.

    Selected Bibliography

    Der Deckel des Codex aureus von St. Emmeram: Ein Goldschmiedewerk des 9. Jahrhunderts. Verlag Heitz, 1963; Die Bilder der drei Propheten in der Biblia Hispalense. F. H. Kerle Verlag, 1963; Three Problems of Tradition in Pre-Carolingian Figure Style: From Visigothic to Insular Illumination. Hodges Figgis, 1963; Irisch-northumbrische Buchmalerei des 8. Jahrhunderts und monastische Spiritualität. de Gruyter, 1967; Ende der Aesthetik. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1971; “Marxismus und Abstractione.” Kunstchronik 25 (1972): 308-10 [abstract of an address given at the German Art History Day in Constance, 1972]; “Kunstgescichte al Divination.” reprinted in Ideologie und Kunst bei Marx und andere Essays. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1974, pp. 64-78; The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry. Estratto dagli Studi Medievali, Spoleto: Centro italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 3rd series 17 no. 2, (1976): 535-595; “Marxism and Art History” [session of the College Art Association of America annual meeting February 2, 1976, Chicago]. unpublished manuscript of the papers; [review of Meyer Schapiro’s Romanesque Art] Art Quarterly 2 (Spring 1979): 211-18; The Making of Paul Klee’s Career, 1914-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989; edited, with Rumold, Rainer. The Ideological Crisis of Expressionism: The Literary and Artistic German War Colony in Belgium, 1914-1918. Camden House, 1990; Zitadellenkultur:die schöne Kunst des Untergangs in der Kultur der achtziger Jahre. Munich: C. Hanser, 1989, English, Citadel Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991; Linke Ikonen: Benjamin, Eisenstein, Picasso nach dem Fall des Kommunismus Munich: C. Hanser, 1997, English, Icons Of The Left: Benjamin And Eisenstein, Picasso and Kafka After The Fall Of Communism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.


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    "Werckmeister, O. K.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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