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The Weimar Republic existed only for a brief period in German history (1918-1938), but with it emerged a timeless collection of subversive art, film, music and fashion. Now highlighted in an exhibit at the Neue Galerie, The Berlin Metropolis, are over 300 works from the greatest artists of the time, encompassing all of the color and chaos that defined the era.
Organized by Dr. Olaf Peters, Professor of Art History at the Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, the exhibit was designed chronologically to mirror the development of Berlin.
But hanging just before the entrance to the new exhibit, is perhaps Gustav Klimt’s most famous piece, his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. A permanent fixture and dubbed as the “crown jewel,” of the Neue Galerie, it’s not hard to see why the portrait has earned its iconic status. Gilded in sweeping opulence and featuring subtle intricacies informed by cubism and expressionism, the piece aptly introduces the shift into the modern art world that was soon to take over – a socially and politically charged movement known as the Dada period.
The Birth of the Republic introduces Dada artists like Ludwig Meidner, Raoul Hausmann, and George Grosz with images depicting a range of emotion from excitement and wonder to fear and loneliness, in the wake of a new and rising metropolis. Such noted pieces include Grosz’s Panorama (Down with Liebknecht), which features his dreamy watercolors etched in sharp ink outlines, as well as Meidner’s melancholy I and the City.
The next leg of the exhibit takes you to the golden era, between 1924 and 1929, when “Berlin became the most ‘American’ city in Europe, and jazz, advertisements, and cinema played a central role in its development.” It was also a period of sexual and creative liberation for women; they were breaking into the traditionally male-centric worlds of film, fashion, art and music, and were aptly named The Neue Frau, or The New Woman.
Distinguished by her slick bob haircut, scant attire, and openly promiscuous persona, the neue frau can be seen in numerous paintings and photographs featured here, perhaps most notably in Christian Schad’s, Two Girls. Also displayed in this space are pieces by the only female German Dada artist, Hannah Höch. Working in mixed medium collages her one of a kind images were beautiful, dark, and strange, and represented a bold new voice for female artists.
Dr. Peters was adamant that the progression of the exhibit “start with politics and end with politics,” so to conclude the exploration of Berlin Metropolis one must enter, Into the Abyss. Featuring anti-Nazi pieces by artists like Oskar Nerlinger, John Heartfield, George Grosz and Rudolf Schlichter. One particularly moving image is Heartfield’s, Das Morderkreusz or The Murderer’s Cross.
But undoubtedly the most powerful image of the final space is Schlichter’s, “Blind Power.” Its presence is loud and its message is clear – war is hell. During a time when speaking out against the republic was a dangerous proposition, these artists were unafraid to make their voices heard. There is much to be seen and learned about this revolutionary period in German history. For more information on the exhibit please visit http://www.neuegalerie.org.
We at Duggal are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with the esteemed Neue Gallerie and have provided a variety of print graphics for this remarkable exhibition including magic canvas wall murals, gallery plexi-mounted prints and CAD cut wall text.