14. July 2017

The major exhibition on moving times: the SCHIRN takes a new look at the art scene in Germany during the inter-War years.

By Schirn Magazine

The inter-War years tend to be considered a time of crises and transitions. At the same time, the social tensions and political struggles also sparked many an artistic revolution. In a large thematic exhibition, the SCHIRN casts new light on the years between 1918 and 1933, presenting around 200 works by both well-known artists and some who still receive scant recognition today.

An impressive panorama of German art of the inter-war years

The SCHIRN exhibition is intended to act as a counterbalance to the glamorous notion of the “Golden Twenties”, the moniker so often chosen for the period. The focus is therefore on the artists who not only portrayed this period in their output, but also sought to comment on the conditions or indeed change them – with ironic, grotesque or critical-analytical representations.

Mirroring society

Perceptions of World War I, the big city, political upheaval, and the Great Depression are interpreted with just as much variety as are the role model of the “new woman” or the debates surrounding sections 175 (outlawing homosexuality) and 218 (forbidding abortion) in the German Criminal Code. The social havoc wreaked by industrialization and the growing enthusiasm for sports are also reflected in the art of the time.

George Grosz, Straßenszene (Kurfürstendamm, Berlin), 1925, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Otto Griebel, Zirkusbild, 1925, Kunstsammlungen Zwickau, Max Pechstein Museum © Foto-Atelier Lorenz

The exhibition halls are arranged thematically to bring together various different places and “scenes” that have previously been viewed separately. Thus the overview of the numerous different styles results in a clear overall picture of German art, a canvas that however remained torn right up until German reunification – whereby the various flash points retain their validity to this day.

From Otto Dix to Jeanne Mammen

The exhibition gathers works by artists who worked throughout Germany, 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. Along with historical photographs, films, magazines and posters, the SCHIRN creates an impressive panorama of German art of the inter-war years.

Otto Dix, Zuhälter und Prostituierte, 1923, The Morgan Library & Museum, Bequest of Fred Ebb, 2005.126, Photography by Janny Chiu 2015, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017