Anita Berber in Vienna 1922

Dances of vice, horror and ecstasy

+++ Exhibition extended until January 12, 2024 +++

Exhibition at the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna | 25 August 2023 - 17 November 2023

In November 1922, in the midst of the economic crisis, Vienna knows only one topic of conversation: Anita Berber and her dances of vice, horror and ecstasy. Together with her partner Sebastian Droste, she brings taboo subjects such as drug abuse, suicide and homosexual desire to the stage. To promote the scandal-ridden programme, the duo steps in front of Madame d'Ora's camera. For years, Berber has been working with the Viennese portrait photographer on the staging of her sophisticated play of calculated shock and dance art. These darkly dramatic photographs illustrate not only numerous newspaper articles, but also Berber's only publication. In it, she gives an insight into her world of thoughts, criticises the hysteria surrounding her person and at the same time fires it up anew. (Text: Photoinstitut Bonartes Vienna)

Anita Berber at Ullstein: Berlin history and first-rate photography

Anita Berber at Ullstein has her own Berlin history: it was here that the portrait photographs of Madame d'Ora, Zander & Labisch, Atelier Binder, Nicola Perscheid, Anny Eberth, Becker & Maass and Waldemar Titzenthaler were taken. They all benefit from the dancer and actress's ability to transform. In addition to serial dance scenes that date back to her highly successful Berlin stage performances, the interiors, role portraits and fashion shots open up an ever new perspective. They speak of the effect and of the intention of different performances.

The dates when the photographs were taken range from 1917 to the 1920s; they were published by Ullstein primarily in the magazine Die Dame. In addition to the stage appearances, the staging of the fashion-conscious artist played a major role, for which Die Dame was the decisive forum.

In the current exhibition at the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna, visitors will encounter a special exhibit from the Ullstein photographic collection that combines several qualities: the original photograph of Madame d'Ora, published in Die Dame in 1922, a role portrait of Berber from her dance performance Morphium. From Anita Berber's contemporary environment, Ullstein also has the original photographs of her dance partner and second husband Sebastian Droste, who left his wife in 1923 to work in New York as an America correspondent for Ullstein's B.Z. am Mittag.

All pictures in our gallery and also in the photo dossier at ullstein bild.

You can find more information about the exhibition on the website Photoinstitut Bonartes Wien.


Dr. Katrin
Senior Manager Asset & Exhibition
+49 30 2591 73164