Guggenheim
Sabías que Los locos años veinte

As part of the Didaktika project, the Museum designs educational areas and organizes activities to complement its exhibitions. Tools and resources are provided both in the galleries and online to increase viewers’ understanding and comprehension of the artists and works on display.

After years of war, death, and misery, people in both Europe and the United States wanted to enjoy life and make up for lost time. Their answer was the Roaring Twenties. Actors, actresses, musicians, and dancers travelled from city to city acting in small circuses, clubs, and theaters. When they moved continents, they brought the beats and sounds from their homeplaces.  Thus, the Charleston, the foxtrot, and jazz reached Europe in 1925 thanks to African-American dancer Josephine Baker (b. 1906; d. 1975). Her freedom and disinhibition when dancing half-naked shook up the European art scene. Men and women alike wanted to see her films and enjoyed her shows in the most prestigious theaters and cabarets, like Paris’s Olympia and Folies Bergère, or the one she founded herself, Chez Josephine. The sensuality she displayed onstage morphed in her personal life to social and political commitment as a civil rights activist in the United States and a defender of women’s role in modern society.
Previously, in the early 20th century, Loïe Fuller (b. 1862; d. 1928) and Isadora Duncan (b. 1877; d. 1927), also from the US, had revolutionized dance by incorporating striking light effects into their choreographies thanks to technical advances, or by seeking an aesthetic modernism. Experimentation in dance encompassed a host of aspects.
Years later, German Valeska Gert, the creator of satirical dance according to writer Bertolt Brecht, would open her own cabaret in Berlin in 1932.
In Spain, Raquel Meller, Reyes Castizo (“La Yankee”, the Spanish version of Josephine Baker), and the cross-dresser Edmond de Bries, among others, danced to the beat of zarzuela or cuplé at the Salón Chantecler, the Central Kursaal, the Apolo theater, or the Fuencarral in Madrid. De Bries would go on to act in Paris, New York, and Latin American countries. What emotions felt the audiences while watching those dances?

The Brown Skin Models, 1925. Photo: Paul Popper. Getty Images.