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Dance of Death
  • © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    • Karl Hofer (1878 - 1955)

  • TitleDance of Death
  • Date1946
  • CategoryGemälde
  • MaterialÖl auf Leinwand
  • Dimensions95 x 109 cm (Objektmaß), 113 x 126 x 9 cm (Rahmenmaß)
  • Signaturesigniert und datiert unten rechts: "CH 46"
  • Inventory NumberBG-M 1337/78
  • CreditlineErworben aus Mitteln der Stiftung DKLB, Berlin, 1978
  • On DisplayNo

The idea of the Dance of Death originated in mediaeval times: book illustrations and mural paintings from that period show skeletons inviting members of all the social classes – from emperor to beggar – to dance with them. As this dance will cost them their lives, there are few people willing to join with enthusiasm.

In Karl Hofer’s Dance of Death dating from the first year after the war, however, everyone seems very willing to participate: before a dark and empty background, hollow-cheeked figures with empty eye-sockets abandon themselves to the rollicking activity with broad grins on their faces. The dancers’ breathless reel helps to deceive them about their hopeless situation. Like a symbol of the future that threatens them all, one dancer on the right is sinking to the ground already. Karl Hofer’s Dance of Death is a fitting symbol of the despair yet simultaneous hunger for life during the “zero hour” after the war.