Nuova Oggettività at the Correr Museum

Modern German art in the Weimar Republic

From 01 May 2015 to 31 August 2015

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With Nuova Oggettività, Venice opens itself to German art after the First World War at the Correr Museum - exhibitions 2015 with the most representative artists and themes of the new objectivity art movement, the artistic movement that was capable of capturing the difficulties and conflicts of one of the most difficult periods of modern Germany.

About 140 works will help to explain to visitors the most representative themes of the New Objectivity modern German art in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933): paintings, engravings, drawings and photographs by more than forty artists, many of whom still little known in Italy today.

The devastating social, cultural and economic conditions that followed the First World War brought Germany to its knees. During the Weimar Republic period, the artists were faced with a rapidly changing situation: on the one hand, the rapid process of urbanization and modernization, by the development of industry and technology, profoundly changed the face of the country; on the other hand, the high rate of unemployment and the desperate situation affecting various sectors of the population. Despite the difficulties and contrasts that the nation experienced, the period of the first German democracy proved to be a very fertile ground for culture: between the decline of expressionism, the exuberance of the Dadaists and the Bauhaus, the new objectivity art movement was born.

Defined in various ways, post-expressionism, neo-naturalism, realism or magical realism, the new objectivity group did not follow a manifesto or a political tendency, nor did it belong to a single geographic area: the new objectivity art movement has at its base a kind of mutual scepticism for the direction taken by the German society and the awareness that these changes will bring more and more human isolation. The birth of this 'new objectivity' in Germany is enshrined irrefutably with an exhibition, which was held in Mannheimnel in 1925, called Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity).

Unlike their predecessors of expressionism, who before realizing the terrible reality of the war had welcomed its beginning with great enthusiasm, the representatives of the New Objectivity looked to new Germany, which was paying a high price for the defeat, and without illusions and devoid of the emotions that had instead characterized Expressionists. Far from the exasperations and distortions of their predecessors, the artists of the New Objectivity rediscover the techniques of the great pictorial tradition and prefer therefore, the genre of portraiture: paying great attention to the yield of surfaces, they face reality with precision and sobriety. The different approaches to realism adopted by members of the movement (critical, cold, satirical, bewitching, objective and so forth..) and their themes - social problems, urban landscapes transformed by industrialization, prostitution…- all bring out the difficulties of an era so tumultuous as difficult.

The exhibition's 'New Objectivity', at the Correr Museum Venice exhibitions, is divided into five thematic sections. The most famous figures of the new objectivity art exhibition include, Dix, Grosz, Schad, Sander and Beckmann, that will be joined by some lesser-known artists such as Georg Schrimpf, Aenne Biermann, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Hans Finsler and Carl Grossberg to allow visitors to better understand the new objectivity modern German art in the Weimar Republic period. In addition, the presence of the main means of expression used in the current of the new objectivity, painting and photography - to which the preparation of the exhibition in Venice, Museo Correr exhibition, reserve a special comparison - will help to understand how the various issues have been developed and explored by various personalities of the movement.

Life in democracy and the consequences of the war In the first section of the nuova oggettività exhibition is the widening gulf between a bourgeoisie that, profiting from the privations of the period, is on the rise and the social groups most affected by the privations of the post-war period: prostitutes, unemployed, war veterans, victims of political corruption and violence are often portrayed in a sinister atmosphere, such as brothels or street corners. Artists, such as, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, August Sander and Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, tend to focus on the urban reality to represent the marginalized in the environments in which they live. The emblematic work of this first theme addressed at the Correr Museum Venice exhibitions is Davringhausen's Dreamer (1919), which is the scene of a murder: the focus is the killer, an elegant man who seems to have nothing in common with the victim who he has massacred.

The city and the nature of the landscape The exhibition continues to encounter another issue dear to the new objectivity: the Correr Museum devotes the second section to the differences between an urban setting aimed at the future, which is strongly influenced by the effects of industrialization, and a rural world - drained by massive migration to the new jobs of the urban areas - where the nostalgia of a past that survives only in the memories is projected.

New identity: human types and portraiture Analyzing the different ways in which the artists of the new objectivity face the portrait genre, the third section presented at the Museo Correr Venice exhibitions in 2015, reveals a new kind of portraiture that overshadows the individuality of the subject to highlight the belonging to a social group. Despite the different approaches adopted by individual artists, the works in this section have obvious similarities, like the use of self-portraits and a clear reminder of the social stereotypes. Artists, writers, actors, marginalized, war veterans and the 'new woman' are the most frequent subjects.

Man and machine section is dedicated to the effects and transformations produced by the rapid process of industrialization that is being experienced by Germany in the age of Weimar. Some artists express their concerns about a world now dominated by machines; others recognize the benefits of technology and try to interpret the new relationship between man and industry. In this section of New Objectivity, photography plays a dominant role, both as an art form in its own right and as a source of inspiration.

Still life and consumer goods the last section of the Correr Museum exhibits 'New Objectivity' shows the so-called 'portraits of objects', a new type of still life: everyday objects, exploited as a symbol of mass production and modernity, depicted in compositions arranged in detail, often enriched with 'exotic' plants, very common in the homes at the time. Among the artists represented here are: Aenne Biermann, Georg Scholz, Albert Renger-Patzsch and Hans Finsler.

The Museo Correr Venice New Objectivity exhibition has been organized thanks to a great collaboration between the Civic Museum Foundation of Venice, 24 ORE Cultura - Gruppo 24 ORE and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 'New Objectivity. Art in Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933' will be open until 30th August 2015. In the autumn, the exhibition will move to LACMA to show the United States this prolific and important period, a fundamental element to interpret one of the most complex chapters of modern German art.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff