15.10.11

New Objectivity • Neue Sachlichkeit


The art of New Objectivity aims to provide us with a direct transcription of reality, works that function as the mirror of society and show it in all its ugliness, i.e., hypocrisy, misery, and brutality of fact.

Georg Scholz, Industriebauern | Industrial Farmers, 1920
Oil and collage on wood
Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

Scholz's collage painting is a grotesquely grim portrayal of a peasant family’s Sunday meal. The parody is dominated by a self-righteous patriarch whose despicable child blows menacingly on a frog through a straw. In the window, a preacher approaches, a roasted turkey in his rotund stomach. As an illustrator for activist periodicals, Scholz gained the skills and perhaps the prescience to convey the bigotry, barbarism, and avarice of an actual family he had encountered in the countryside, probably to "conquer the aesthetic huckster through a new objectivity," as he proclaimed through his colleagues in Der Gegner (The Adversary).

Pamela Kort considers early modern German culture from a new angle: the comic grotesque, suggesting that a penchant for distorted, if not invented, bodies and beings that merge satire, horror and beauty in varying ratios is an essential ingredient in German modernism, especially in the Neue Sachlichkeit, or the New Objectivity, which sprang up in the Weimar Republic in the 1920s (The Grotesque and Its Relatives).

Despite its immense diversity, German modernism in the Weimar Republic remains united by a relentless scrutiny of the world.

Online Resources
Roberta Smith, Those Witty, Mocking Germans, The New York Times, 22.10.2004
MoMA: Georg Scholz, includes the lithographs Profiteering Farmer's Family (Wucherbauernfamilie), 1920; Newspaper Carrier (Zeitungsträger), 1921; and The Lords of the World (Die Herren der Welt), 1922. On the Newspaper Carrier lithograph: "Scholz pilloried Germany’s industrialists and moneyed elites in mordant caricatures such as this, made in the immediate postwar years. Gaunt and dejected, a father and son barely subsist by peddling newspapers, while a self-satisfied fat cat leisurely smokes a cigar in the backseat of his gleaming new automobile."
Head Study

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