Marie Reidemeister and Otto Neurath: interwoven lives and work
Keywords:Isotype, visual education, collaborative couples, crossgender collaboration
Otto Neurath and Marie Reidemeister were both part of an interdisciplinary team which developed the ‘Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics’ (later known as Isotype). Neurath is usually credited as the ‘inventor’ of Isotype, yet Reidemeister was a key figure in this work of visual education from the beginning. After Neurath’s death in 1945, she continued the Isotype work for two and a half decades. Marie Reidemeister also became a historian of Isotype and, in the 1970s and 1980s, she was involved in editing publications about Otto Neurath, helping to shape and correct the record of his life and work. This paper explores the challenges faced by female surviving partners who have worked intensively with their spouses for a long time and later work on their legacy. What problems arise from the effort to honour the deceased partner for one’s own visibility as a researcher? Marie Reidemeister’s role and attitude deserve examination for not fully conforming to the stereotype of a widow anxious to control the reputation of a deceased partner; neither did she attempt to present herself as the ‘great woman behind a great man’, instead calmly recording facts that establish her as a pioneer of information design.
Copyright (c) 2022 Christopher Burke, Günther Sandner
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