Exhibitions/ German Drawings and Prints from the Weimar Republic (1919–33)

German Drawings and Prints from the Weimar Republic (1919–33)

July 2–October 31, 2004

Exhibition Overview

The turbulent years of the Weimar Republic as recorded with clinical detachment and incisive lines by Otto Dix, George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Karl Hubbuch, and Rudolf Schlichter. In subjects ranging from portraits and nudes to street scenes, the selection of some twenty works is drawn from the Museum's collection.

The short-lived Weimar Republic saw political, economic, and social turmoil, yet also innovation in literature, music, film, theater, and art. Among the artists working in the various Post-Expressionist styles, the most vital ones were part of the movement toward a deadpan, matter-of-fact realism that later became known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany in the 1920s.

The artists working in that style looked at their surroundings soberly, cynically, and often ferociously. In both their paintings and drawings, they recorded with clinical detachment and precise lines this rootless society that flourished or floundered during these pivotal years, also mislabeled The "Golden" Twenties. In the street scenes by Max Beckmann and Georges Grosz, profiteers and drifters mingle with prostitutes and war cripples. As one and a half million German soldiers returned wounded from the war, war cripples loomed large and were a common sight selling matches or begging in the street. In Otto Dix's fearsome drypoint Cardplayers (1920)—based on one of his four antiwar paintings, the famous 1920 Skat Platers in the collection of the Nationalgalerie, Berlin—the hideously disfigured officers clutch their cards with foot, mouth, and mechanical hand.

In the artists' searing portraits assembled here, we encounter mainly male professionals: a businessman, industrialist, doctor, art dealer, and actor. An exception is Dix's portrait of Marga Kummer (1914), a couturier and the artist's first love. Dix drew the cat-like features of this willful young woman in the exacting lines that already herald his celebrated Verist style of six years later.

Most of the drawings and prints assembled here have been acquired since 1994.

Selected Highlights