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Sylvia von Harden was meant as a symbol of the "Golden Twenties" - a period of massive social, economic and political change in post-war Germany.

The Golden Twenties marked the period between the end of the First World War and the financial crash of 1929 and arrival of the Nazis.

Germany had been defeated, the German Emperor had abdicated and Germany had become a republic.

But living conditions were extremely harsh.

There were food shortages, high unemployment and hyperinflation.

The German currency crashed, with a dollar going from being worth 4 marks to 1 million marks!

The economy finally stabilised, trade increased, unemployment fell and Germany was re-accepted on the diplomatic scene.

The period saw an explosion of artistic, social and political change.

Berlin was a huge experimental scene, influenced by the Russian Revolution, American jazz, Hollywood cinema, the Parisian artistic avant-guard and many intellectuals who had been silenced in pre-war Germany.

The constitution provided new opportunities for women - who could be seen confidently smoking in the cafes of Berlin in short hair and short skirts, like Sylvia Von Harden.

When Otto Dix saw Sylvia von Harden in the street he stopped dead in his tracks : "I must paint you! I simply must! ... You are representative of an entire epoch... an epoch concerned not with the outward beauty of a woman but rather with her psychological condition".

Otto Dix was part of a movement called "New Objectivity" whose aim was to represent the truth - warts and all.

When the Nazis came to power, they condemned his work as "degenerate".

Otto Dix was fired from his job and his work confiscated and burnt.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)



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