Neue Sachlichkeit


Neue Sachlichkeit
(German; "New Objectivity")

Movement in German painting of the 1920s and early 1930s reflecting the cynicism and resignation of the post-World War I period.

The term was coined in 1925 by Gustav Hartlaub, director of the Mannheim Kunsthalle, for an exhibition including works by George Grosz, Otto Dix, and Max Beckmann, the movement's leading exponents. They worked in a realistic style, as opposed to the prevailing styles of abstraction and Expressionism, using meticulous detail to portray evil in smooth, cold, and static images derived from Italian Metaphysical painting for the purpose of violent social satire. The movement ended in the 1930s with the rise of Nazism.

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▪ German art movement
      (German: New Objectivity), a group of German artists in the 1920s whose works were executed in a realistic style (in contrast to the prevailing styles of Expressionism and Abstraction) and who reflected what was characterized as the resignation and cynicism of the post-World War I period in Germany. The term was fashioned in 1924 by Gustav F. Hartlaub, director of the Mannheim Kunsthall. In a 1925 exhibition assembled at the Kunsthalle, Hartlaub displayed the works of the members of this group: George Grosz (Grosz, George), Otto Dix (Dix, Otto), Max Beckmann (Beckmann, Max), Georg Schrimpf, Alexander Kanoldt, Carlo Mense, Georg Scholz, and Heinrich Davringhausen.

      Various trends and styles have been noted within Neue Sachlichkeit. Three subdivisions are sometimes proposed. The Veristic includes the socially critical (and frequently bitter) works of Grosz, Dix, and the early Beckmann. The Monumental, or classical, is represented by Schrimpf, Kanoldt, Mense, and Davringhausen, whose paintings displayed smooth, cold, and static qualities, partially derived from the Italian pittura metafisica (see Metaphysical painting); the term Magic Realism, one of the names sometimes applied to the entire Neue Sachlichkeit movement, best describes the style of these particular painters. Finally, the Rousseau school includes works by Walter Spiess and Scholz, for example, which are deliberately naive, emulating the style of the French painter Henri Rousseau.

      Although many Neue Sachlichkeit artists continued working in representational styles after the 1920s, the movement itself ended with the rise of Nazism.

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Universalium. 2010.

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