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May 1, 2006
I found myself wondering why
Walter Spies had moved to Bali. PITA_MAHA
Could it be that he was trying to
be Gaugin? (Gaugin worked much
earlier, but as I understand it
his fame didn't really click until
1930 or so, so the dates seemed
I found one good
reference on Walter "Walter Spies and Balinese Art" (1980)
Spies, and I started by Hans Rhodius and John Darling
skimming through the Edited by John Stowell
lead biographical Published: Terra, Zutphen
essay... "under the auspices of the
Topical Museum Amsterdam"
Ah, so I see the ISBN nr. 90.6255.079.7
critical point was a
chance meeting with a (This claims to be the
Dutch couple... Spies first English language
was traveling with a study of Walter Spies)
friend, met these Dutch
folks, and they got him
some exhibitions in
Amsterdam, and from
there he went to Java
and later Bali.
Java/Bali were Dutch
possessions at the time.
So it was more of a Also, as "German" people
colonial connection go, Spies' nationality was
than any kind of more of a technicality
romantic imitation of than anything else.
He was born in Moscow to
But there was something a family in diplomatic
funny about the wording service, then he spent a
of this bio, it seemed to loose internment in the
be retreating into empty Urals during WWI where he
poetry at the point of had his first taste of
decision: "his apartment ethnographic study...
in Berlin had become like
a guilded cage to him". A better question
might be "Why did
I looked at the events he go to Berlin
more closely... As I in the first place?"
said, he was indeed
"traveling with a
friend", but really
this was a trip to a
"sanatorium" while his
roomate Murnau was
"recovering from an
Already a suspicious mind might wonder
if there was some other reason to be in
And there was something funny going
on with Murnau when Spies told him
where he was going. Murnau was very
upset and needed to be calmed down
by some third parties --
Oh. Wait a minute.
"Was Walter Spies Gay?", I asked
Sika, the friend in Bali we were
staying with. And indeed, later
in the bio I was
"Yes" he said immediately. reading, they
A number of the "Pita Maha" mention that at one
people were gay. And Sika point the dutch
went on to explain that when authorities went
he was a boy he was scared beserk about
to go over there. He didn't homosexuality and
like the "man touching boy" arrested Spies for
business. a time.
So anyway, that's the Funny, even at
answer: Walter Spies that point the
ran off to Java -- and article isn't
founded a new arts quite willing
scene -- to escape a to admit that
clingy, mondo depresso he was gay...
boyfriend by the name and it was
of Murnau. written in 1980.
The bio hints later
that Murnau did
something or other
with film -- he was
living in Hollywood
when he died in a
car accident "on the
way to his latest
So what did Murnau
Oh, he was a director.
Spies was on
(Released: 1922) the set during
the filming of
While he was not
listed in the credits,
it would not be a huge
surprise if he helped
with set painting, or
Murnau's last film was
"Tabu: A Story of the South Seas"
(1931), which opened shortly
after his death.
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