In Kassel, Haftmann used documenta to visualise his idea of abstraction as world language of the West. But the organisation of both exhibitions also shows the different role of the collective and the individual. In the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung , the collective work of the jury becomes a symbol for socialism.
In contrast, celebration of individual achievement became a symbol of the West, which explains why Arnold Bode stood in the foreground of the organisation. The particular selection of artists in the two major exhibitions underscores both the similarities and differences between the sister countries. The Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung displayed works paintings, 69 sculptures and works of graphic art, plus photography by Edmund Kesting from altogether artists. A fourth of the artists came from Berlin and Dresden. Of the artists, 27 had previously been included in the Degenerate Art exhibition, which had comprised altogether artists.
Their 92 works made up less than a sixth of the overall collection. This figure must be put in perspective, however, for it indicates little about the actual number of formerly ostracised artists, which was far greater than the number exhibited here. These artists suffered under National Socialism in different ways, ranging from occupational and work bans to persecution, exile, arrest, and even liquidation in concentration camps. But here again, it is unclear why these works were removed, whether it was for artistic reasons, because of the content, or for just organisational reasons.
Governed by a stylistic pluralism, the Dresden exhibition comprised a variety of styles of the 20th century: Late Impressionism, Expressionism, Bauhaus, New Objectivity, Surrealism, politically committed art, and heavily abstract, nonrepresentational art. Surrealism, abstract, and constructivist art constituted a minority, but were present nevertheless.
Dadaist works were absent. Paul Klee was exhibited, for example, with his work Influenz Induction , however. Yet, Rhenish Expressionism was not represented. It remains unclear whether the absence of these works had anything to do with the concept of the exhibition, or whether they simply could not be procured. Works for sales exhibitions were difficult to obtain on loan, and the years following the Second World War were a time of shortages.
Altogether, more works from the Classical Moderns were exhibited than from contemporary artists, and an expressive-representation style prevailed among the paintings.
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This slant was in keeping with the general preference of the postwar period, however, which had little interest in nonrepresentational painting. While the Dresden exhibition presented a selection of all-German artists, documenta identified itself with the Western international scene, so that the catalogue lists works by artists from seven different nations Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, USA, and the Netherlands. The arbitrariness of this approach is shown by the example of Chagall, who was equally active at several places, namely Russia, Germany, and France, but who is listed under France.
He too emigrated to Switzerland in , but is listed as German. Especially interesting in the comparison with the Dresden exhibition is that the Russian-born artists Kandinsky, Gabo, and Jawlensky are also listed as German owing to their activity in Germany, although they were not exhibited in Dresden because of their origins, like many other Russian artists who, although active for many years in Germany, were also not exhibited.
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While the exhibition organisers of the first documenta use the proximity to the GDR as a cultural-political argument for obtaining public funding in , the very absence of GDR artists indicates the progression of the Cold War following the staging of the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Dresden in On the other hand, Karl Hofer was exhibited with works from before the end of the war, and the catalogue did not refer to his initial relocation to the East.
He, too, was exhibited with later works. Although the documenta exhibition took place nine years after the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Dresden, works that had been created before predominated.
But even if many artworks came from the last ten years, they were mainly works from established artists who had also worked before Wollenhaupt-Schmidt also finds the art styles before to be better represented than those after Many of the exhibited artists had been formerly limited by work bans, exile, and persecution. Walter Grasskamp draws particular attention to underrepresented German-Jewish protagonists of modernism, such as Otto Freundlich and Gert Wollheim. Charlotte Klonk also notes that representatives of socially engaged art, such as Russian Constructivism, Dada, and the Bauhaus, were left out either wholly Russian Constructivism or in part Dada and the Bauhaus , although she concedes that Bode's staging of the exhibition spaces tied in with Bauhaus ideas.
In terms of display, the two exhibitions differed particularly in their presentations of the works. The few accounts in the daily press describe the Dresden presentation as conventionally dwelling on styles as opposed to issues.
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In contrast, the presentation of the works in Kassel mixed different kinds of styles and put the paintings on steel rods in front of sponsored black-and-white plastic foil. Even if the press did not give rave reviews of the exhibition, its evaluation was generally positive. Whereas until then, the SMAD had not intervened in the exhibition concept, the visitors' survey now seemed to give a welcome argument for taking Soviet art as a role model. The following editions of the Deutsche Kunstausstellung thus slowly evolved more and more into exhibitions primarily of Socialist Realism.
The proportion of Western art thus increased compared with the first exhibition.
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Likewise, relatively few substantive or formal demands from the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands Socialist Unity Party of Germany could be discerned as yet. Such guidelines were evident only in the assignment of several large-scale mural works. For the first time, the artists' collectives were commissioned to create works in the style of Socialist Realism.
The subjects were to be chosen from proposals by the Exhibition Committee—subjects that would bring the artists to working-class people's issues. Progression of the Cold War and the incipient dispute between Formalism and Realism then brought to light the cultural-political control by the Party for the first time explicitly in the Dritte Deutsche Kunstausstellung Third German Art Exhibition 1 March—25 May The political orientation of the Dritte Deutsche Kunstausstellung thus presented not only a contrast with the first edition of this exhibition series but also with the documenta exhibition of App Download Follow Us.
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