Synopses & Reviews
In Modris Eksteins's hands, the interlocking stories of Vincent van Gogh and art dealer Otto Wacker reveal the origins of the fundamental uncertainty that is the hallmark of the modern era. Through the lens of Wacker's sensational 1932 trial in Berlin for selling fake Van Goghs, Eksteins offers a unique narrative of Weimar Germany, the rise of Hitler, and the replacement of nineteenth-century certitude with twentieth-century doubt.
Berlin after the Great War was a magnet for art and transgression. Among those it attracted was Otto Wacker, a young gay dancer turned art impresario. His sale of thirty-three forged Van Goghs and the ensuing scandal gave Van Gogh's work unprecedented commercial value. It also called into question a world of defined values and standards that had already begun to erode during the war. Van Gogh emerged posthumously as a hero who rejected organized religion and other suspect sources of authority in favor of art. Self-pitying Germans saw in his biography a series of triumphs-over defeat, poverty, and meaninglessness-that spoke to them directly. Eksteins shows how the collapsing Weimar Republic that made Van Gogh famous and gave Wacker an opportunity for reinvention propelled a third misfit into the spotlight. Taking advantage of the void left by a gutted belief system, Hitler gained power by fashioning myths of mastery.
Filled with characters who delight and frighten, Solar Dance merges cultural and political history to show how upheavals of the early twentieth century gave rise to a search for authenticity and purpose.
In Solar Dance, acclaimed writer and scholar Modris Eksteins uses Vincent van Gogh as his lens for this brilliant survey of Western culture and politics in the last century.
The long-awaited follow-up to Modris Eksteins' internationally acclaimed Rites of Springand Walking Since Daybreak. Now he has produced another thrilling, iconoclastic work of cultural history that is a trailblazing biography of an era--from the eve of the First World War and the rise of Hitler to the fall of the Berlin Wall--that illuminates our current world, with its cults of celebrity and the crisis of the authentic. Solar Danceis a penetrating examination of legitimacy and truth, fakery and pretence--highly relevant to all of us today.
Art dealer Otto Wacker's 1932 sensational trial in Berlin for selling fake Van Goghs leads Eksteins to a unique narrative of a collapsing Weimar Germany, the rise of another misfit, Adolf Hitler, and the replacement of nineteenth-century certitude with twentieth-century doubt.
Finalist, 2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Writers' Trust of Canada
About the Author
Modris Eksteins is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.
University of Toronto, Scarborough