25. October 2017

A society mirrored in its times: the SCHIRN presents a major thematic exhibition on art during the Weimar Republic.

By SCHIRN MAG

Social tensions, political struggles, and social upheavals, as well as artistic revolutions and innovations characterize the Weimar Republic. Beginning October 27, 2017, the SCHIRN will be presenting German art from 1918 to 1933 in a major thematic exhibition. Direct, ironic, angry, accusatory, and often even prophetic works demonstrate the struggle for democracy and paint a picture of a society in the midst of crisis and transition. Many artists were moved by the problems of the age to mirror reality and everyday life in their search for a new realism or “naturalism.”

Jeanne Mammen, Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch), ca. 1926, Private collection, Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, Photo: Mathias Schormann, Berlin

They captured the stories of their contemporaries with an individual signature: the processing of World War I with depictions of maimed soldiers and “war profiteers,” public figures, the big city with its entertainment industry and increasing prostitution.

Potential for discussion

The political unrest and economic chasms are part of the exhibition, as well as the role model of the New Woman, the debates about Articles 175 and 218 (regarding homosexuality and abortion), the social changes resulting from industrialization, and the growing enthusiasm for sports. The exhibition provides an impressive panorama of a period that even today, 100 years after its advent, has lost nothing of its relevance and potential for discussion.

Horst Naumann, Weimar Carnival (Weimarer Fasching), ca. 1928/29, Albertinum/Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, © Estate Naumann, photo: bpk /Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut
Georg Scholz, Of Things to Come (Von kommenden Dingen), 1922, Neue Galerie New York, Photo: bpk / Neue Galerie New York / Art Resource, NY

Dr. Philipp Demandt, Director of the SCHIRN, comments on the exhibition: “With ‘Splendor and Misery in the Weimar Republic’ the SCHIRN is presenting a counterbalance to the exhibitions that have already been shown on many occasions on the Roaring Twenties. It takes a look at the unvarnished facts of life during the Weimar Republic. Some 200 works by 62 artists mercilessly hold a mirror to the society of the time. We see an era that clung to democracy by the skin of its teeth and in some respects is closer to us than we would like to believe.”

Regarded separately until now

The focus of the exhibition lies on the unease of the era, which was reflected not only in the broad stylistic range of the age, but also in the topics and content. Arranged in thematic groups, it assembles portrayals and scenes from Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Rostock, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Munich, and Hannover that have hitherto frequently been regarded separately.

Dodo, Box Logic (Logenlogik), for the magazine Ulk, 1929, Private collection, Hamburg, © Krümmer Fine Art

In this exhibition the SCHIRN unites some 200 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by 62 famous artists and others who have been largely neglected to date, including Max Beckmann, Kate Diehn-Bitt, Otto Dix, Dodo, Conrad Felixmüller, George Grosz, Carl Grossberg, Hans and Lea Grundig, Karl Hubbuch, Lotte Laserstein, Alice Lex-Nerlinger, Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Jeanne Mammen, Oskar Nerlinger, Franz Radziwill, Christian Schad, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz, and Richard Ziegler. Historical films, magazines, posters, and photographs provide additional background information.

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Kate Diehn-Bitt, Self-Portrait with Son (Selbstbildnis mit Sohn), 1933, Kunsthalle Rostock