Together with his artist friends, he sup- ported the war as a purifying nationalist and anticapital- ist force. Ernst Barlach contributed his famous litho- graph Dei heilige Kiieg The Holy War to a issue: it shows a German patriot surging forward larger than life, an invincible warrior ready for battle. As casualties began to mount, enthusiasm for the war waned, and the magazine ceased publication. A month later Cassirer launched Dei Bildeimann. Eighteen issues appeared from , and they provide evidence of changes in the artists' attitudes. Their lithographs and poetry draw attention to the plight of homeless children and other consequences of war.
Horror and disillusionment had set in. Franz Pfemfert's Die Aktion had appeared weekly since Like its publisher Fig. It reflected the changing views of Introduction 1 3 Fig. Our slogan is : Lib- erty, Equality, and Fraternity! We are uniting because we have human and artistic convictions in common.
We believe that our first duty is to dedicate all our energies to the moral regeneration of a young and free Germany We believe it is our special duty to gather together all signifi- cant artistic talent and dedicate it to the collective well-being of the nation We feel young, free, and pure. It was he who introduced much of the Euro- pean avant-garde to the German artists. His journal Der Sturm The Storm , published weekly from until and intermittently until , contained in- fluential articles on art and theater and critical essays by and about European artists, as well as providing the opportunity for many of the artists to contribute origi- nal graphics.
Berlin many of the second-generation Expressionists, who be- gan to protest against what was happening in their country and agitate for government action and reform. By 19 18 Die Aktion had become the major outlet for their political beliefs, and they contributed to it regu- larly. The artists of the second generation shared with the founding generation their sympathy for the poor whose numbers grew following the famine of 19 16 and their attraction to the pulsating urban landscape as typified by Berlin.
But it was the second generation who seemed filled with hope for a Utopian society in which art would play an important role. The groups they formed were not dissimilar to Die Briicke or Der Blaue Reiter, but instead of manifestos that spoke only of a break with the past, they spoke of revolution. Compare, for in- stance, Kirchner's words in the Briicke manifesto of with those of the Novembergruppe November Group manifesto after the war.
Kirchner wrote: "Put- ting our faith in a new generation of creators and art lovers, we call upon all youth to unite. We who possess the future shall create for ourselves physical and spiritual freedom opposed to the values of the comfort- ably established older generation. Anyone who honestly Berlin, home of both the Arbeitsrat fiir Kunst Workers' Council for Art and the Novembergruppe, and Dresden, home of the Dresdner Sezession Giuppe Dresden Secession Group 19 19 , were the most fertile centers of postwar art activity.
Elsewhere in the catalogue Eber- hard Roters writes about developments in Berlin after the war, while Fritz Loffler discusses the Dresden Seces- sion, presenting much information not previously avail- able. The Arbeitsrat fiir Kunst. It held regular meetings, circulated minutes, issued manifestos, and organized exhibitions, and its members contributed to periodicals. The group included publishers, critics, dealers, collectors, and art historians among its members, many of whom were socialists. In their first proclamation of artistic principles, the Arbeitsrat made six demands, the first four of which were directed against existing Wilhelmine art organiza- tions.
They urged the dissolution of the royal acad- emies, the Prussian Provincial Art Commission, and the state museums. They demanded an end to state spon- 14 Stephanie Banon Fig. They rejected current city-plan- ning pohcies. They inveighed against monuments of no artistic merit in general, and against war monuments in particular.
They called for the government to ensure that art would have a future in the new republic. The Aibeitszat distributed a questionnaire to painters, sculptors, architects, critics, and art histo- rians; the responses were widely publicized in in fa! Stimmen des Azbeitsiats fiii Kunst in Berlin Yes! Voices of the Workers' Council for Art in Berlin. The questionnaire included queries about the relationship between the artist and the public and addressed reform in the teaching of art, state support for artists, and the potential influence of artists on urban design, architec- ture, and public housing.
Many of the twenty-eight whose written responses were published found the tradi- tional academies stultifying and urged the establishment of an environment that would encourage greater spon- taneity. They wanted teachers to encourage children's expressive tendencies rather than "correct" formal achievements. For many, answering this questionnaire was their most political act of the revolutionary era.
The first presentation of the Arbeitsiat was the Aus- stellung fiir unbekannte Architekten Exhibition for Unknown Architects , which called for architecture to be the unifier of all the arts, destroying barriers between conventionally defined disciplines. Ultimately, these practices were put into effect most systematically at the Bauhaus school in Weimar. Due to the poor economic situation and the severe shortage of building materials, these architects were not receiving commis- sions.
They were the most frustrated of the Expression- ists as they were unable to build their buildings. Instead, they produced a series of sketches and drawings for Uto- pian buildings, largely based on the symbol of the crys- tal, which they saw as the representation of innocence: for them an ideal building would have been constructed entirely of glass.
Bruno Taut urged his associates to be imaginative architects,- he hoped that a new architec- ture would emerge, born of a spiritual revolution. This never happened : very few buildings actually survive from the Expressionist period. The Einstein Tower Fig. Its emphasis was on the pictorial arts rather than architecture. Calling upon all Cubists, Futurists, and Expressionists, the Novembergruppe en- couraged writers, poets, painters, architects, and com- posers to join.
They sponsored several exhibitions and spread their ideas through catalogues and such periodi- cals as Der Kunsttopf The Artpot , Novembergruppe Fig. Initially the Novembergruppe supported official policy by creating posters for the Publicity Office of the Rat der Volksbeauftragten Council of People's Delegates , as the new coalition government of Social Democrats and Independents called itself. Their strident graphics urged a return to work and public order and the conven- ing of a national assembly to realize the aims of the revolution.
To All Artists! To All Art- ists! Pechstein's cover lithograph depicts a man clutching his heart; behind him lies a city engulfed in flames, from which the new society is to arise. The pamphlet was a compilation of statements, poems, and prints by four- teen artists, including Lyonel Feininger, Klein, Meidner, and Tappert: Pechstein's article "Was Wir Wollen" What We Want was the central piece: "The revolution has given us the freedom to express and to realize wishes we have had for years.
Our sense of duty tells us that work for us alone must be done by us alone. We demand this and we do this without ulterior motives, keeping our eyes only upon the ideal goal: the realiza- tion of our historic destiny to attain global awareness. His article ends with the claim that a socialist republic might pro- vide the answer to the ills of society: We hope that a sociahst republic not only will make the situation in the art world healthy but will create a unified art epoch for our generation.
The beginning of a new unity of people and art will be heralded on the basis of craft, with each artist working in his own fashion. Art will no longer be considered, as it has been in the past, an interesting and genteel occupation for the sons of wealthy loafers. On the contrary, the sons of common people must be given the opportunity, through the crafts, to become artists.
Art is no game, but a duty to the people! It is i matter of public con- cern. He also urged that artists become involved in politics. The failure of the Novembeigiuppe to attain its re- volutionary goals became so obvious that a splinter group was formed by the artists Otto Dix, Grosz, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Hoch, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz, and others, many of whom were also interested in Dadaism. They exhorted the Novembeigiuppe to re- member the ideals with which it had begun and urged a recommitment to the proletarian revolution.
Although Grosz was a member of the Novembei- giuppe for a short time, the majority of his searing com- mentaries on Weimar society and its rampant corrup- tion were created outside the group framework. Like Dix, Grosz had enlisted for military service despite his marked antiwar sentiments. His experiences soon re- confirmed his horror of combat, and following an honor- able discharge in 5 he began chronicling his abhor- rence of Berlin society. His vocabulary of chaotic scenes of crime and passion, of obscene officers, injured sol- diers, and leering prostitutes in dark streets was in- creased and sharpened by his observations during the war and afterwards.
He created a veritable cascade of paintings, prints, portfolios, illustrated books, and illustrations for radical periodicals, such as Die Aktion. A painting like Selbstmoid Suicide; Fig. Bathed in a red light, Grosz's Berlin is the epitome of the "big city landscape" of second-generation Expressionism. Metro- polis exemplifies the anarchy of postwar Germany. The scene is Friedrichstrasse, site of the Central Hotel, which Grosz had already depicted in lithographs: beg- gars, prostitutes, cigar-chomping profiteers, cripples, and convicts intimately glimpsed create a maelstrom of misery and depravity.
This dynamism of the city owes much to the rhythms of Italian Futurism. Dresden After Berlin, the city most closely associated with sec- ond-generation Expressionism is Dresden, the birth- place of Expressionism. After the war a lively art scene revolved around the academy, Galerie Arnold, and Galerie Emil Richter. Fritz Loffler has noted that this second phase dates back to two exhibitions at the Galerie Arnold: the van Gogh show in and the presentation of artists from Galerie Der Sturm in 1 9 1 3. Kokoschka, however, had the status of a guest while he was in Dresden and never had the impact of either Dix or Felixmiiller.
In , under the leadership of the twenty-year-old Conrad Felixmiiller, a group of young Expressionist art- ists banded together to exhibit at the Galerie Arnold, which had been the venue of the early Briicke exhibi- tions. In his memoirs, Felix- miiller writes: "Through this circle, and above all through Raoul Fiausmann, I came to Franz Pfemf ert - it was an antimaterialistic group, revolutionary not for the sake of aesthetic questions but in a social and political sense.
Shortly thereafter the more radical artists broke away and again under Felixmiiller's leadership founded the Diesdner Sezession Giuppe The membership and activities of the group are discussed fully by Loffler, who was associated with the art scene in Dresden for more than fifty years. What emerges is a picture of intense activity, particularly in the years , led primarily by Dix and Felixmiil- ler, both of whom convinced many others to join with them Fig.
The attitude of the young artists is expressed by the poet Walter Rheiner in his introduc- tion to the catalogue of an exhibition the new group staged at the Galerie Emil Richter in "The pain- ters who now make their entrance are young. Heralds of a new world. They are the hunted, tormented, blissful, dithyrambic prophets of the Wonder of Wonders They call out to you Don't look for what your eye, your all-too-weary eye expects to see That world of yours is falling apart!
Can't you see? Turn from your blindness! School the eye! School the spirit! You are human and this is about you. While the art of the Secession members covered the spectrum from Expressionist through Futur- ist to Dada, the underlying element was the struggle for an art that would contain within it the power of the newly awakened postwar spirit. Yet, unlike the two groups in Berlin, the Secession was not as precisely de- fined in its aim or as programmatic in its activities.
The radical periodical Menschen Mankind; Fig. Felixmiiller's image of the "new man" first appeared as the logo of the periodical, founded partly as an alternative to Der Stuim and Die Aktion. Its policy was one of idealism, and the periodi- cal supported art, literature, graphics, music, and criti- cism. Grohmann's essay was intended to draw attention to the new group - to introduce its members - and not to stress its planned reforms or revolutionary aims. Although he joined at Felixmiiller's urging, he did not share the latter's commitment to radical politics.
Known today primarily for his Neue Sachlichkeit work from the years after ,5, Dix created a significant group of paintings, drawings, and prints during the years These early years were of extreme importance in his coming to Introduction 19 Fig. Like many other German artists, Dix had at first had a posi- tive approach to the war, believing that the upheaval would sweep away the old order and usher in a new age Fig.
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Like Beckmann and Grosz he voluntarily en- listed in 19 14, subsequently serving at the front in Russia and France. These experiences are the basis for several hundred drawings he executed on the battle- fields Fig. On his return from the front, he began to depict his experiences in a new style, a fusion of Futur- ism and Expressionism, deploying powerful colors with bold strokes. But it was not until that he created his antiwar epic Der Krieg War , a portfolio of fifty un- forgettable etchings and aquatints.
With needle and acid he literally corroded the surface of the plate and con- veyed both the physical and the moral destruction that he had witnessed. Der Kheg stands today as one of the monuments to the horrors of modern war. Felixmiiller left Dresden after joining the Commun- ist party in In rather than use his recently won Saxon State Prize for its intended purpose, travel to Rome, he visited the Ruhr District and studied the life of the coal miners Fig.
Shocked by the high unem- ployment he saw there, and feeling that he could contri- bute something worthwhile by making the miners' plight known, Felixmiiller executed several powerful paintings, drawings, and woodcuts in the early s Fig. But by the mid-twenties, he had turned his back on Expression- ism, and until his death in he created sweet, inti- mate portraits and landscapes. Other Artists' Groups After political differences among its members led to the dissolution of the Dresden Secession in , several artists joined groups in Dusseldorf, Berlin, or Darm- stadt.
Dix had established connections in Dusseldorf while visiting Felixmiiller, then painting in the Ruhr. Felix- miiller urged Dix to move to Dusseldorf and to continue his studies at the academy under Heinrich Nauen. In Dix received an invitation from the art dealer Johanna Ey which made possible his move from Dres- den. Fier Fig. In another essay, Peter Guenther discusses many of the smaller artists' groups that were active in other Ger- man cities, including Berlin, Bielefeld, Darmstadt, Hamburg, and Munich.
Much of this material is pub- lished here for the first time, and it shows us just how widespread the reactions to the war were. Whether gal- vanized by artists, architects, writers, dealers, or museum directors, each of these groups proclaimed in lofty terms that the world after the war had to be a different and a better place to live in, a place in which the arts would play a more significant role.
What each of the groups found out, some more quickly than others, was that this idealism did not in fact bear up under the pressures of exhibitions, publications, and gatherings composed of such a diversity of artists.
The War The war, whether experienced firsthand or not, inspired at least five graphic portfolios, each on a different aspect 22 Stephanie Baiion of the conflict but all using the printed medium and the multiple images of the portfolio to convey a potent message. Dix's Der Kiieg Fig. Appal- led by the renewed jingoist sentiments spreading throughout Weimar Germany, Dix offered his sobering, searing, and penetrating images, which stand as one of the most convincing antiwar statements, not unlike Goya's Los Desastres, to which they have often been compared.
Dix spares no detail in conveying the unre- lenting physical nature of war. Images of mutilated bodies, decaying limbs, and men weighed down with equipment describe the combat; fleshy prostitutes pur- sued by sex-starved soldiers show another side of war; and bombed landscapes, moonlit minefields, and barren night scenes complete a cycle of images of the ravages of war. A second graphic cycle, Kiieg War by Kollwitz Fig. Inspired by the death of her youngest son Peter at the beginning of the war, she conveys in each print the pain and sense of loss felt by those at home: widows, mourning parents, mothers protecting their children from conscription or offering them forth; these are also the victims of war.
A third portfolio is Pech- stein's Somme igi6 published in Pechstein en- listed in 19 1 6 and during his tour of duty saw some of the heaviest fighting, including the battles of the Somme and Ypres. His experiences there on the French front led to his group of eight lithographs, which show a German soldier grappling with a many-headed mythical beast, reacting to a bombing, carrying a wounded com- rade, and comforting a dying victim.
The last image is of a crippled veteran awkwardly tilling his garden. The war significantly affected the graphic and painted work of other artists as well. Gert Wollheim made a number of pencil sketches while in the trenches and in the s and s several paintings of trench warfare. His relationship to the activities in Dusseldorf are discussed fully in Heckmanns's essay. It is as somber in its implications as Dei Veiwundete is in its explicitness. Images by Otto Gleichmann, who had served on the fronts in France and Russia, share this mood. The impact of the war was not captured exclusively by those who served at the front.
The sixty-nine-year- old Christian Rohlfs depicts an anonymous prisoner try- ing to escape from captivity in his woodcut Dei Gefangene The Prisoner; Cat. The Revolution : Political Posters and Periodicals As the war drew to its bitter end, hunger and despair were rife throughout Germany. Military defeat and economic collapse were making themselves felt.
De- serting soldiers roamed the streets and added to the chaos. The country was ripe for change. The stage was set for a revolution that would replace the old regime with a system in which the leaders were to be responsible to parliament. A coalition government of the moderate So- cial Democratic party and the more radical Independent Social Democrats was set up. Elections were called for January In the intervening period many artists be- Fig. That's How Spartacus Leads You! WoUt Ihi satt Werden t Workers! Do You Want Enough to Eat? Posters were the visual weapons in the struggle of the working class against the rich Figs.
In marked contrast to the censorship that had been so strictly enforced during the kaiser's reign, German cities now became a riot of colors and slogans as strident messages covered every available wall space. Among the most traumatic events of the period were the brutal murders in Berlin of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, leaders of the abortive Spartakus communist Revolution. Liebknecht was the son of the Social Democratic party founder Wilhelm Liebknecht; Luxemburg was a prominent Polish socialist.
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Lieb- knecht was shot while "trying to escape" from the police. Luxemburg was beaten to death; her corpse, thrown into the Landwehrkanal, was only recovered four months later. Kollwitz and Felixmiiller were moved to create memorials of very different types. Kollwitz, who had been asked by Liebknecht's family to make a deathbed sketch, re- sponded instead to the communal grief of the numerous mourners who gathered for the funeral Fig. She worked the scene first as a drawing, then in lithography, and finally in her newly learned medium, the woodcut, with which she was able to convey most effectively her feelings about the intensity of the sorrow.
With its em- phasis on the mourners, this print came to stand for the aspirations and desperation of the working class, to whom Kollwitz felt strong ties. Berlin, the capital of Prussia and the German empire, was the focal point of the most intense radical activity immediately following the November Revolution. A writer for the contemporary journal Das Plakat The Poster , which was devoted to illustrations and descrip- tions of contemporary posters, describes the city scene in the months between November 19 18 and January "The paper flood set in Berlin's streets were a riot of orgies of color, the houses exchanged their gray faces for an agitated mask The resourceful poster pasters advanced With brush and glue-pot, like ghosts in the night, they carefully pasted their posters so high that they could only be reached with mountaineer- ing equipment.
The suggestion of violence in the print is emphasized by the blood-red flags and the red splashes surrounding the hanged man and in the fists of the demonstrators. Some of the most compelling posters were distrib- uted by the anti-Bolshevik groups. They used images of gorillas, skeletons, and vultures depicted in gaudy, horrific yellows and reds to frighten the public to atten- tion Fig.
These artists sought a coalition, a united Germany, as illustrated in Klein's Arbeiter. Soldaten Workers. Soldiers; Cat. In addition to making posters, many artists created covers for widely circulated broadsheets, pamphlets, and periodicals. Of these , fifty-three were founded after and folded before Guenther discusses many of the lesser-known journals in his essay.
Together they form an important part of the history of postwar German Expressionism, for it was in these periodicals that the artists, writers, publishers, and poets were able to join together most effectively to sound their cry for a new society and for a new role for creative people. Postwar infla- tion caused the German mark to plummet from a pre- war exchange rate of 25 to the dollar to to the dollar in June By the currency had collapsed com- pletely: in April a dollar was worth 10, marks; on July first, , marks; by August, 4.
By November 20 the equivalent was 4. Unemployment was widespread, hunger and malnutri- tion rampant, the middle class virtually wiped out. Beggars and crippled veterans selling matches became familiar figures Figs. So deformed are they by their injuries that they are forced to play with prodietic hands or with their mouths or feet. Little is left of these maimed figures, yet even the fragments - the Iron Cross, the carefully parted hair — recall an earlier world.
Collaged elements, such as the newspapers on the walls, heighten the sense of realism. In 19 1 8 Beckmann returned, shattered by his ex- periences as a medic, to find misery and chaos in Berlin. The widespread famine of the early s led in 1 to the founding of the Internationale Arbeiterhilfe In- ternational Workers' Aid , a nonpolitical program to end hunger. The lAH was founded by Willi Muenzenberg with the encouragement of Lenin to try to match the services offered by the Red Cross and the American Re- lief Administration, both of which had sent aid in the disastrous Russian famine of Grosz Fig.
The organization reported directly to the Soviet Comin- tern. Among those participating were Peter Bockstiegel, Felixmiiller Fig. For two years they supported the lAH through contributions of works for sale or poster designs. The lAH laid the groundwork for a network of communication between Germany and Russia. Other connections were established when an international committee of intellectuals was formed; exchange visits of German and Russian artists and writ- ers ensued. Sebastian, c. These depictions were in- hised with the Expressionists' intensity of color and emotion, contemporary events often masqueraded as sacred subjects, and the artists used African and Oceanic motifs for additional effect.
Certain religious images became metaphors for the sufferings of the Ger- man people. The mystical and ecstatic aspects of theol- ogy appealed to many of these artists, and they appropri- ated familiar symbols and iconography. Sebas- tian figure frequently in the repertoire of the second generation; rarely do we find images of redemption or of the Resurrection or Ascension.
The figure of St. Sebastian came to stand for the people of postwar Germany beset by the ceaseless travails of hunger, infla- tion, and political chaos. Karl Albiker represents the martyred saint in a powerful oak sculpture Fig. Sebastian , c. Willy Jaeckel, Schubert, and Dix Fig. Sebastian as a figure emblematic of the times.
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These images are powerfully direct and often convey a loss of faith on the part of the artists. The artists frequently turned to wood, either in sculpture or woodblock, to convey their images of an- guish. Pechstein, for example, weary of politics by , turned to the Lord's Prayer for an elaborate hand-colored portfolio of twelve woodcuts Das Voter Unser The Lord's Prayer; Fig.
He returned to Gothic renditions of frontally aligned subjects depicted with angular lines. One can look at his depictions of "Give us this day our daily bread" and "Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done" and relate them to the widespread famine, the end of the war or the beginning of a new age; one feels that Pechstein has made a well-known religious tradi- tion more topical. Hartmann tells of a young soldier who experiences the beginnings of the revolution, the funeral of Liebknecht, and the outbreak of street violence, during which he is killed.
Flis spirit does not die: it wanders through revolutionary Ger- many, observing. Mitschke-Collande focuses on the re- ligious salvation promised in Hartmann's text. He com- bines images from the Crucifixion and the Revelation of St. John for instance, the horsemen of the Apocalypse Fig. The illustrations are a symbol of the political and spiritual awakening of the second-generation Expressionists. They reflect the crossroads that many artists felt they had reached.
Another powerful portfolio with religious subject matter was produced by Biiicke artist Schmidt-Rottluff after he returned from the war. In he executed a group of nine black-and-white woodcuts, Chiistus Christ; Cat. One of the key pictures shows Christ with the legend 1st Euch nicht Chhstus erschienenl Has Christ not appeared to you? On his forehead is inscribed the year , signifying a new beginning. Expressionist writer and Schmidt-Rottluff biographer Grohmann says of these re- ligious images: "The striving for the supernatural appeared to be the reverse side of radical socialism, the expression of a psychosis awakened through war and revolution.
In a series of hand-colored woodcuts Lange cre- ated masklike faces carved from the woodblock with nervous, energetic strokes: the Mocking, the Deposi- tion, the Flagellation are portrayed in angular forms Figs. Abstract Expressionism In the same way that they turned to spiritual, religious, or mystical subjects, the second-generation artists were drawn increasingly to the depiction of states of mind.
Walter Gramatte executed a series of illustrations for the novella Lenz by Georg Biichner, which tells the story of a young man in eighteenth-century Germany who is torn between his search for God and the unre- lenting suffering that thrusts him toward atheism. Gramatte's prints convey the sympathy that he and his fellow artists felt for this questing soul. Expressionism began to show an apocalyptic or ecsta- tic coloration in the work of several artists after the war. In 19 1 9 Johannes Molzahn published "Das Manifest des absoluten Expressionismus" The Manifesto of Abso- lute Expressionism in Der Stmm, in which, with highly charged language, he proclaimed the destruction of the old order and the rising of a new order in the aftermath of destruction Fig.
In his essay Stephan von Wiese discusses the interna- tional nature of the Expressionist movement and its connections with other avant-garde art of the time. He argues that the abstract variant of Expressionism has long been overlooked, and that it is precisely this aspect that is of importance in viewing Expressionism in an international context. By the early s several artists of the Novembergruppe had developed a style that com- bined the intensity of color of Expressionism with the forceful lines of Futurism and Cubism's fracturing of the surface plane.
The closing words of the manifesto of the Novembergruppe were: "We send our fondest greet- ings to all those artists who have heard the call and feel responsible - Cubists, Futurists, and Expressionists. Join us! Much of the sculpture of the second generation shares this attraction to abstract or emotive subject matter which evinces connections between Expression- ism and other international styles. In his 19 19 sculpture Dreiklang Triad; Fig. In Herbert Garbe created several sculptures with two abstracted figures repre- senting traditional themes, such as sleep, love, and death; in all these works a common element can be found in the adherence to Cubist principles of fracturing surface planes and in the emphasis on a single, clearly identified subject.
The architectonic structure of the composition serves to em- phasize the emotional quality of the figures and to stress the allusion to the figure of Christ nailed to the cross. Garbe's figures display that unmistakable combination of Expressionism and Cubism that Roters has called "Cubo-Expressionism. In Herzog's work the human form increasingly dissolves and individual characteristics be- come less and less defined; ultimately, the figurative world disappears altogether. He often draws his titles from the sphere of music: harmony, adagio, furioso. A sculpture such as Geniessen is a transformation of ar- chitectural elements into a composition that conveys emotion.
They found that the working class, rather than supporting their efforts and joining with them, had in fact nothing but scorn for them. Al- though many artists continued to decry social injustice and the ineffectiveness of the new regime in remedying the most pressing problems, the concerted group efforts, which for a short time had been so intense, dissipated as the artists became disillusioned with politics.
It became impossible to sustain the ecstatic, heady commitment and frenetic pace. The artists had come to the realiza- tion that organized activities were not going to effect the desired radical changes in society, and many of them chose to go their own way.
What replaced this spent force of Expressionism was a new, more realistic style, Neue Sachlichkeit, which made its first public appear- ance in Mannheim at the Kunsthalle when Gustav Hartlaub organized a show in The death of his friend caused Felixmiiller to return briefly but intensely to the Expressionism he had by then abandoned.
Rheiner had been a member of the circle of poets and painters in Introduction 37 Fig. To evade conscription, Rheiner, like Becher, had taken cocaine,- his apparent addiction saved him from the draft. Felix- miiller later said of him: "Despairing at his lack of suc- cess, and in great financial difficulties, he had distanced himself from all his friends. Cocaine became his conso- lation. Rheiner, who was only thirty, jumped from the window of an apartment in Berlin, clutching his needle in his left fist.
Felixmiiller captures the stark contrast between this wild gesture and the poet's rather pedes- trian surroundings, geranium-filled window boxes and lace curtains, which the poet pulls aside as he leaps into the pulsating urban nightscape of Berlin. Felixmuller portrays himself in the figure of Rheiner, as if to say a final farewell to an era that had passed.
Notes 1 Donald E. Reed, Jr. University of California, Los Angeles, , p. Ber- lin, , trans. Meisel, Voices, p. Richter, March I9i9 ,p. The torch in the lower right-hand comer of many posters and pamphlets indicates that they were sponsored by the Publicity Office. For a fuller description of this period, and especially of its politics, see Weinstein's dissertation. Kohl- hammer, , p. This applies not least to the art of our century. One reason for this is that perspectives in art shift with increasing distance — sometimes to our astonishment - and reveal phenom- ena and events previously hidden from view by inter- vening factors such as established interpretive systems.
Max Beckmann and Ludwig Meidner are undeniably among the major figures in German Expressionist art, and yet both have only recently begun to receive the international recognition that is their due. Beckmann's work has long been appreciated inside Germany, but opinion elsewhere has been slow to follow suit.
The outside world's discovery of Beckmann began in the United States, and the primary credit for this is due to Peter Selz. Were Meidner and Beckmarm thought of as backward-looking, retardative Expres- sionists? Did art historians and the art public have diffi- culty categorizing their work? They belonged to the sec- ond generation of German Expressionists, it is true, but not in a strictly chronological sense.
Meidner and Beck- mann were contemporaries: both were born in All these artists came from central and eastern Germany, the cradle of German Expressionism. The artists of Die Biiicke had given their group its name in From to 1 they moved, one by one, from Dresden to Berlin, and by 19 12 had gained some recognition for their work. Art historians there- fore rightly regard them as the inventors of the expres- sive gestural brush stroke and as the founders of Ger- man Expressionism although a period of seven years, from to 1 9 12, is a long time in terms of establish- ing stylistic priorities.
The decisive breakthrough in Meidner's stylistic de- velopment took place in 19 It was then that he em- barked on his magnificent series of apocalyptic land- scapes. This was two years before Kirchner reached the culmination of his artistic career in the big-city Expres- sionism of his Berlin street scenes. Meidner — like Beck- mann, but unlike Kirchner - was an urban Expressionist from the very start; and this in itself reveals a wide divergence of mental attitudes. The crucial year in which Beckmann found his artis- tic and personal identity was 19 15, when, as a soldier on the Western Front in World War I, he suffered a psychosomatic breakdown.
His path to artistic indi- viduality and expressive power thus began with a trauma. The lightning of inspiration struck, as it had for Meidner three years before. That brief, tense interval of three years had at its center one great external event: the outbreak of war in August 19 Meidner's work and Beckmann's combine to form, as it were, a narrow pass, an initiatory gateway: two pillars that flank the mo- ment of catastrophe. Meidner and Beckmann knew and respected each other. In 1 Beckmann, whose sophisticated style of painting, still wedded to the tradition of the Berlin Se- cession, had already won him recognition as an artist, was able to write Meidner a testimonial for a grant that saved him from penury.
What is it that links their modes of artistic expression, and what distinguishes this, in its turn, from that of Die Biiicke or Der Blaue Reitei The Blue Rider? What strikes the eye first is their extensive and subtle use of the color black, of course, Die Biiicke Expressionists used black too, but primarily as an outline and a framework to hold the figures together, rather as medieval artists used black strips of lead in stained glass.
In a remarkable number of Biiicke paintings black does not appear even in the con- tours, which are picked out in blue, red, purple, yellow, or other colors. Die Biiicke artists did not want black; they wanted festive colors, as a metaphor for joy and vitality. Meidner and Beckmann did want black.
Black in Meidner's paintings, for all the artist's vo- racious visual appetite for color, adds a somber gleam to 40 Ebethaid Roters the surface and represents the dark background of fate against which a raucous scenario of dechne and fall takes its explosive course: black is the shadow of life, Umbia Vitae also the title of the first volume of verse, published in , by the Berlin Expressionist poet Georg Heym. In Beckmann's paintings black clamps objects and figures together, forcing them into painful proximity and even interpenetration, shutting them in upon them- selves, and cramming their essence into an utterly ob- jectlike state of plasticity until the confinement seems to hurt.
Black also issues from the openings in Beck- mann's world - from phonograph horns, for example - like an active, sucking antisubstancc; it wells up from the underworld, a manifestation of some primeval dark- ness hungry to devour the daylight. Both artists are conscious dreamers who remember their visions and bring reflections of them into their painted world. He roamed the outlying suburbs of Berlin for hours on end and drew his inspiration from Fig.
At night, back in the dark, little attic room that served as his studio, he painted houses and streets that began to dance under his brush, as if the earth be- neath the city were shaking. From dancing houses it was only a step to blazing cities. In the summer of 19 12, that hot summer following a rainy April, that had such an invigorating impact on European art in general,' Meidner embarked on his apocalyptic landscapes, which he painted one after another in a sustained cre- ative frenzy Fig. Most of them date from 19 12 or ; the fiingstei Tag The Last Day , which came in 19 16, was a vision already overtaken by the reality of the war.
Meidner, who came from Silesia, the country that had produced those utterly individual and unsec- tarian mystics, Angelus Silesius and lakob Bohme, was possessed of mediumistic powers. He had a clairvoyant premonition of the coming catastrophe. Meidner was a prophet, and the many figures of prophets who are to be seen fulminating in his drawings make it clear that this was how he saw himself Figs. Although basically a wanderer and recluse, a retiring artist who really liked nothing better than to bury him- self in his studio with his paintings, Meidner had a re- markable gift for making friends and collecting people around him.
From 19 12 onward all the leading bohe- mians of Berlin, the eccentrics and originals of the age, Prewar, Wartime, and Postwar 41 Fig. Beginning in 3 Meidner held open house ev- ery Wednesday evening. What happened in Meidner's studio was something new. Not only was there a direct exchange of ideas and opinions between artists and writers, but the ground was laid for the collective and individual identities of an entire generation of artists who stepped into the fore- front of public consciousness during and especially after the war. These were artists who handled their materials in a maimer totally different from that of the previous generation.
Their work had acquired - as can be dis- cerned very clearly in some artists and faintly in others — a political dimension. Their approach was more ag- gressive, more insolent; their tone, peremptory, even cynical. This cynicism was the child of despair, and it foimd its most cogent postwar expression in Berlin Dada. The years 1, ,, and 3 are so important be- cause they were the incubation period for postwar art. There were meeting places like Meidner's studio all over Berlin.
The artists who met there also saw each other and members of other groups at the Neopatheti- sches Cabaret and in the numerous cafes along the Kur- fiirstendamm, particularly the Cafe des Westens, known to the bourgeoisie as the "Cafe Grossenwahn" Cafe Megalomania , which was supplanted in 5 by the Romanisches Cafe.
It was an uncom- monly exciting time. There was another linking medium whose signifi- cance would be hard to overestimate: the cultural and political periodicals of the avant-garde, dominated in Berlin by two titles in particular. Both were broadly left-wing. Pfemfert, a committed pacifist, laid his emphasis on politics, re- garding artistic expression as an elevated means of com- municating political ideas; Walden's Der Stuim, pleas- antly liberal - but by no means unaggressive — in its left- wing sympathies, placed its principal emphasis on art and culture.
In Walden opened his Galerie Der Sturm. The consequences of this event serve to make the years 19 12 and , in a still deeper sense than that described hitherto, an incubation period for the "second phase" of Expressionism. The Italian Futurists fol- lowed in April These exhibitions — aside, that is, from the excitement of the Futurist roadshow - aroused no very marked pub- lic response; but their impact on the Berlin avant-garde has still to receive its historical due.
The visible influ- ence of the Futurist exhibition stretches from the Berlin street pictures of Kirchner to a major part of the work of the artists of the Novembergruppe November Group. In the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon Walden showed his own impressive, if highly personal, selection of the work of the European avant-garde for the first time. The names alone show that Walden's exhibition had a wide ideological as well as geographical range. What interested him most was not the exact theoretical provenance of such stylistic terms as Cubism, Futur- ism, Expressionism, and Primitivism : matters to which he probably gave little thought.
What it all added up to for him was the synoptic view, the stylistic synthesis. This continued to be apparent in his exhibition policy over the following years. Walden intuitively pursued a synthesis of the varied styles of the European avant- garde. His conception of the history of art was a unitary one, and to denote this overriding unity he unhesitat- ingly employed an all-embracing term: Expressionism. In the essay "Zur Formulierung der neuen Kunst" Toward a Formulation for the New Art he asserts that "Cubism is a term that refers to the same artistic im- pulse [as that of Expressionism] in France.
Each movement is made visible by at least one countermovement. These rhythmic interac- tions are the life of the picture.
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Art does not render; it tenders The artist is there to paint a picture, not a forest Painting is the art of the surface. It is not there to represent bodies; it is there to shape surfaces Plane is circumscribed by color The formulas must not be objects; primarily and exclusively they must be forms, or else they must turn back into forms. It is not because a picture repre- sents objects that it is art; in fact, it ceases to be art when it represents on a surface objects that are not primarily and exclu- sively formal elements of the surface that is to be shaped The concepts of foreground and background have nothing to do with art.
Painting is an art of surfaces. Any representation of a body on a surface is illusory; and illusion, including optical illu- sion, is not art because it violates the laws of art. The inner laws of art are those of the unity of form and the unity of materials. Every work of art carries its own laws within it.
These laws can therefore not be determined in advance; they can only be recognized after the event. To call nonimitative forms "geometrical" is in itself a metaphor. However, the forms of geometry are closer to art than those of the imitation of Nature because geometrical forms are related to each other and not to something external to geometry. Not only to the Berlin artists but to others who made the pilgrimage to Berlin, they came as a reve- Fig. It is clear from Walden's writings that his concept of Expressionism was considerably different from, and broader than, that which is prevalent today.
At that time, however, the use of the term to refer to a wide- ranging stylistic synthesis — undoubtedly pioneered by Walden - was the norm among artists and all those who concerned themselves with art. The restricted applica- tion of the term to first-generation gestural Expression- ism in Germany is a product of art-historical hindsight. It is a usage that may well have served the interests of clarity, but it has also stood in the way of any historical awareness of the subsequent evolution of those forms of German avant-garde art that bore the common impress of Expressionism, Cubism, and Futurism.
Anyone who studies French Cubism in its purest form soon becomes aware that the style is the transposi- tion of a theory of perception into pictorial syntax. The French Cubists are concerned, broadly speaking, with the visualization of Cartesian space. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the Frankfurt-born dealer and writer who was the friend and mentor of the Cubists from the very start and who published the first basic account of Cub- ism in German, defines the basic geometrical forms that provide the structural framework of Cubist paintings, in terms of his native German, Kantian tradition, as "vis- ual categories" within our consciousness that predate all illusionistic perception.
They did their thinking, as Fig. In Futurism they were fascinated by the staccato visual rendering of motor ac- tivity; in Cubism, by the strict dialectic of verse-and- response in the structuring of the surface; in Delaunay's Orphism, by color as form; and in the art of Dei Blaue Reitei, by the way in which spiritual and psychic vibra- tions were made visible through harmonies of line and color.
Behind all the local particularities of the various artistic regions of Europe they discerned a common basic stylistic concept. This can be reduced, after due allowance for all the diversity of individual expression, to a common formula: the interplay of line, plane, and color manifests an expressive rhythm that is constantly regenerated through the clash of contraries and thereby reveals a fundamental law of cosmic and human exist- ence and experience. The resulting stylistic free-for-all led in German art - and particularly in the art produced in, or influenced by, Berlin - to a crossover of stylistic resources whose prod- uct can be designated by the somewhat unwieldy term "Cubo-Futuro-Expressionism.
Its outstanding manifestation was the art of the Novembergiuppe. The artistic revolution might well have remained in the sphere of pure form, and there might not have been even a gesture toward revolutionary political utterance, had it not been for that one catastrophic event of which many artists had had a premonition, and which many a bored member of a society jaded by the long years of peace had covertly or overtly longed for: the "Great Caesura" of World War I.
Beckmann bears witness to this. It is possible to trace from one print to the next in the etchings made between 5 and how the inner break became visible and grew. In the immediate postwar years, and 19 19, Beckmarm painted an image of inexorable, oppressive power, Die Nacht Night. Die HoUe Hell; Figs. If Meidner is the prophet, Beckmann is like the disciple at the empty tomb; he has intimations of a world beyond, from which he receives mysterious messages, but as yet he knows nothing of the Resurrec- tion.
The existential shock of war, which must have struck him with the force of a thunderbolt, opened up a gaping chasm in his acutely observant and critical mind from which dreams emerged to mingle with the percep- tions of everyday life. His interiors, crammed to burst- ing with people and objects that rub and jostle against each other, are the antechambers of limbo, waiting rooms for those in quarantine between this world and the next. Later, when Beckmann was living in exile, moving from one hotel room to another, painting his triptychs, his life became an eerily exact counterpart of his art, a transposition of that spectral pictorial dimen- sion that lies between daylight and dream.
Like Beckmann, a number of other young artists found an inner capacity for experience in the trauma of battle, which became a source of artistic creation. These works, like those of Meidner and Beckmann, are manifestations of apocalyptic Expressionism. The dates of all these works show that the period of World War I witnessed the production of a number of Fig. This was a war that changed the world and marked a great historical divide.
Felixmiiller from Dres- den, born in , unfit for military service because of a heart condition, was a member of the circle that gathered and talked in Meidner's studio. In he exhibited at the Galerie Der Sturm. For Pfemfert's Die Aktion he did woodcuts that contained some references to political events. This marked a decisive step. For the first time the style of the Expressionist woodcut had been harnessed to a political end.
Many of the works of second-generation Expressionists are clearly differenti- ated from those of the first generation by this one fea- ture: their political and social motivation. What had begun in the works of the wartime period now matured in the postwar period. The works of Felix- miiller's Expressionist period are the classic instance of this. Nothing is left of the lyrical Expressionist celebra- tion of nature, as practiced by the artists of Die Briicke: no celebration of life in exuberant color; no delight in the big-city aesthetic, with its appeal to erotic and motor impulses alike.
What then took over was a con- cern with the types, and the hardships, of the prole- tariat, presented in an aggressively discordant blare of color. Even after the Briicke artists moved from Dresden to Berlin, there were constant contacts between the two cities. The to and fro that went on marked an affinity between Dresden and Berlin which was an important relay in the electrical field from which the second gener- ation of Expressionist artists emerged.
Grosz and Dix had studied at the Dresden academy under Richard Miil- ler. Meidner had spent a few months in Dresden in 1 9 14, just before the outbreak of war. Hausmann occa- sionally made quick visits to Dresden. Felixmiiller trav- eled between Dresden and Berlin throughout the war, even though his dealer and print publisher were in Ber- lin.
All these artists kept up a loose form of association, which survived into the early postwar years. Felixmiil- ler was one of the first to join the Novembeigiuppe in MIA1J l-r;i. Mrv M. Igoe, Laura T. Braddock and Laura Turner Igoe, eds. Irvin, Benjamin H. Isenberg, Nancy Jackson, Maurice Jaros, Peter Johnson, Ronald Johnson, Sara E.
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Lurie, Shira Luskey, Brian P. Lyons, Clare A. McAleer, Margaret H. McCurdy, John McElrath, Joseph R. Mackintosh, Will McMahon, Lucia Madden, Etta Bologna: Bononia University Press, Maillard, Mary Malley, Gregory E. Mancall, Peter C. Meacham, Sarah Hand Merritt, Jane T. Michel, Sonya and Robyn Rosen. Mihm, Stephen A. Mizelle, Brett Moniz, Amanda B. Moore, Glenn. Morgan, David Stephen J. Stein, New York: Cambridge University Press, Murphy, Andrew R. Murphy, Angela Murphy, Sharon Nelson, Dana D. Newman, Richard S. Newman, Simon P. Ohman, Martin Osborn, Matthew Pasley, Jeffrey L.
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