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New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919 – 1933
4 October, 2015
Christian Schad (1894-1982) Nudo a mezzobusto/Half Nude, 1929 olio su tela/oil on canvas, cm 55,5 x 53,5 Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal © Bettina Schad, Archiv U. Nachlab and Christian Schad, by SIAE 2015
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919 – 1933 , the first comprehensive show in the United States to explore the themes that characterize the dominant artistic trends of the Weimar Republic .
Organized in association with the Museo Correr in Venice, Italy, where it was first presented, this exhibition features nearly 200 paintings, photographs, drawings, and prints by more than 50 artists , many of whom are little known in the United States. Ke y figures — Otto Dix, George Grosz , Christian Schad , August Sander , and Max Beckmann — whose heterogeneous careers are essential to understanding 20th century German modernism, are presented together with lesser known artists , including Herbert Ploberger , Hans Finsler, Georg Schrimpf, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Carl Grossberg, and Aenne Biermann , among others .
Special attention is devoted to the juxtaposition of painting and photography, offering the rare opportunity to examine both the similarities and differences between the movement’s diverse media.
During the 14 years of the Weimar Republic (1919 – 1933), artists in Germany grappled with the devastating aftermath of World War I: the social, cultural, and economic effects of rapid modernization and urbanization ; staggering unemployment and despair; shifting gender identities; and developments in technology and industry. Situated between the end of World War I and the Nazi assumption of power, Germany’s first democracy thrived as a laboratory for widespread cultural achievement, witnessing the end of Expressionism, the exuberant anti – art activities of the Dadaists, the establishment of the Bauhaus design school, and the emergence of a new realism.
This new turn to realism, best recognized by a 1925 exhibition in Mannheim, Neue Sachlichkeit (of which New Objectivity is the English translation), has at times been called Post – Expressionism, neo – naturalism, Verism, and Magic Realism . The diverse group of artists associated with this new realism was not unified by manifesto, political tendency, or geography, they shared a skepticism regarding the direction Germany society was taking in the years following World War I and an awareness of the human isolation these changes brought about. Germany’s financial, sociopolitical, and emotional defeat in WWI took a profound toll on the nation.
In contrast to their Expressionist predecessors — who had enthusiastically embraced the war before confronting its harrowing realities on the battlefield — practitioners of the New Objectivity movement were disillusioned with the complex realities of the new Germany. Digressing from Expressionism’s penchant for bold, abstract subjectivity, the Weimar Republic’s burgeoning group of artists favored realism, precision, objective sobriety, and the appropriation of Old Master painting techniques, including a nostalgic return to portraiture and heightened attention to the appearance of surface.
New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919 – 1933 is organized into five thematic sections : Life in Democracy and the Aftermath of the War examines both the polar conditions dividing Germany’s rising bourgeoisie and those who suffered most from the war’s aftereffects, including maimed war veterans, the unemployed, prostitutes, and victims of political corruption and violence; The City and the Nature of Landscape addresses the growing disparity between an increasingly industrialized urbanity and nostalgic longing for the pastoral; Still Life and Commodities highlights a new form of the traditional still life in which quotidian objects – often indicative of mass production – are staged to create object – portraits; Man and Machine looks to artists’ attempts to reconcile the transformative yet dehumanizing effects of rapid industrialization; and lastly, New Identities: Type and Portraiture showcases a new trend in portraiture in which subjects are rendered as social typecasts rather than individual subjects.
On View: October 4, 2015 – January 1 8 , 2016 Location: BCAM, 2 nd Floor