Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Art Styles: Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity)

Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity) was a pseudo-Expressionist movement founded in Germany in the aftermath of World War I by Otto Dix  (his painting "The Skat Players" shown above) and George Grosz. It is characterized by a realistic style combined with a cynical, socially critical philosophical stance. Many of the artists were anti-war. In their paintings and drawings they vividly depicted and excoriated the corruption, frantic pleasure seeking and general demoralization of Germany following its defeat in the war and the ineffectual Weimar Republic which governed until the arrival in power of the Nazi Party in 1933. But their work also constitutes a more universal, savage satire on the human condition.

Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, who was the director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, coined the term in 1923 in a letter he sent to colleagues describing an exhibition he was planning. In his subsequent article, "Introduction to 'New Objectivity': German Painting since Expressionism," Hartlaub explained, "I am interested in bringing together representative works by those artists, who over the last ten years have neither been Impressionistically vague or Expressionistically abstract, neither sensuously superficial nor constructivistically introverted. I want to show those artists who remained- or have once more become- avowedly faithful to positive, tangible reality". The exhibition took longer than expected to be organized and eventually took place between June and September of 1925.

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