Germany Modern Arts


In the second half of the century. XVIII a group of German artists and theorists active in Rome (AR Mengs, JJ Winckelmann) made a decisive contribution to the formation of the neoclassical taste. At the end of the century an original neoclassicism of severe and Grecizing inspiration emerged in Germany, expressed in public works (academies, museums, theaters, gardens) and in urban plans that continued those of the eighteenth century (Berlin, Munich, Kassel, Karlsruhe). Center of the new style was Berlin, where the architects CG Langhans (Brandenburg Gate, 1789-93) and F. Schinkel worked, which gave the city a neoclassical face. In Munich the major urban planning enterprises were the work of L. von Klenze (Ludwigstrasse, Königsplatz). Starting from 1840 the neo-Greek style declined and the neo-Gothic and the neo-Renaissance were established; then, in the Wilhelminian period, the Neo-Baroque (Reichstag of Berlin, 1884-94). Between the turn of the century and the 1930s, Germany held a leading position in the renovation of architecture. The Art Nouveau style (Jugendstil) early acquired functional accents thanks to the influence of the architects of the Viennese Secession, the Belgian architect H. van de Velde (who founded an art school in Weimar in 1906) and the Scotsman Ch. R. Mackintosh. Among the first German architects of the new trend is H. Muthesius, who between 1896 and 1903 went to Great Britain on behalf of the Prussian government to study local architecture and in 1907 founded the Deutscher Werkbund in Berlin, the first industrial art school, around which representatives of the rational style, including P. Behrens (AEG turbine factory in Berlin, 1909), his disciple W. Gropius (Fagus factory in Alfeld, 1911; manufactured by the Cologne Werkbund exhibition, 1914), L. Mies van der Rohe (Kröller house, 1912). After World War I, architecture was affected by the expressionist movement (Chilehaus in Hamburg, by F. Höger, 1923; Theater in Berlin, by H. Poelzig, 1919; Einstein Tower in Potsdam, by E. Mendelsohn, 1921), but soon, around 1925, the rational tendency reappeared, which had its maximum representative in W. Gropius, founder in 1919 of the Weimar Bauhaus. Less important for the artistic teaching but more refined and open to the future was L. Mies van der Rohe, author above all of dwelling houses. With the advent of Nazism, the Bauhaus was forced to close and German artists and architects had to emigrate. As for the painting, the century. XIX saw the flourishing of academies in Germany (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich, Dresden, Hamburg). But more than the academic history painters (P. Cornelius, W. Kaulbach, JG Schadow, A. Rethel, Ph. O. Runge) left their mark on some romantic landscape painters, such as CD Friedrich and K. Blechen.

According to Thedressexplorer, the painting of the second half of the nineteenth century is dominated by a symbolism and an idealism of literary inspiration: the Germanic nostalgia for classicism prevailed in A. Feuerbach, H. von Marées, M. Klinger, F. Hodler, while with A. Böcklin it took root a gloomy and surreal late romanticism. Some realist painters are more valid: in Munich W. Leibl, influenced by Courbet, and H. Thoma; in Berlin A. von Menzel. The latter paved the way for impressionism (M. Liebermann, L. Corinth), which, however, had little success in Germany. At the end of the century the magazines Jugendand Simplicissimus in Munich and Pan in Berlin spread the liberty taste. The Norwegian painter E. Munch collaborated with Pan, whose work was of fundamental importance in relation to the birth of Expressionism. Between 1905 and 1913 the Brücke painters and graphic designers (E. Heckel, EL Kirchner, HM Pechstein, K. Schmidt-Rottluff, E. Nolde, O. Müller) and the sculptors E. Barlach and W. Lehmbruck gave birth to the expressionist movement. In 1911 the Blaue Reiter group was founded in Munich, with more formal characters and links with French culture (VV Kandinskij, F. Marc, A. Macke, P. Klee). After World War I, the trend of painting of political and social commitment continued with the movement of the New Objectivity (O. Dix, M. Beckmann, G. Grosz), while Gropius’s Bauhaus gathered artists interested in exclusively formal research, in direction of abstractionism (P. Klee, V. Kandinskij, O. Schlemmer, L. Feininger, L. Moholy-Nagy).


After World War II, the non-figurative tendency, represented by W. Baumeister, clearly prevailed over the German expressionist tradition ; Th. Werner, F. Winter, EW Nay. Germans are the major representatives of the Parisian painting of the years following the war, Wols and H. Hartung, who anticipate informal and gestural abstraction in opposition to the geometric one. Subsequently, German painters turned to tachisme (B. Schultze, E. Schumacher, H. Lorentz, W. Gaul) and, from the 1960s, to the experiences of the neo-avant-garde (op art, conceptual art, body art). There is also a lively return to realism with the pictorial work of D. Asmus, D. Ullrich, P. Nagel and G. Richter. In the Germany of the eighties, on the other hand, we witnessed the development of what critics have defined “wild painting” (born in the late seventies), to which the work of JG Dokoupil, G. Baselitz, M. Lüpertz, AR Penck. At the same time J. Immendorf, S. Polke, P. Kirkeby and A. Kiefer, following the teachings of J. Beuys, have given rise to a new artistic consciousness, linked in some respects to the international trans-avant-garde. The new German sculpture also deserves attention for its innovative aspects, evident above all in the works of A. Hien, T. Schütte, R. Mucha, K. Kumrow, O. Metzel, L. Gerdes and F. Dornseif. The architectural and urban planning activity of the second post-war period is essentially identified with the reconstruction of the cities destroyed by bombing. The urban planning legislation leaves responsibility to local authorities, failing to carry out a large-scale expropriation and reorganization operation. On the formal level, in a first phase we witness the faithful restoration of the previous buildings (the Cologne riverside is an example). In 1951 M. Bill he founded the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, and in 1957 with the Interbau in Berlin he resumed research on the urban model; the result is a fragmentary panorama devoid of a coherent system. Technicalism and standardization mark other initiatives: Neue Vahr in Bremen (1957-62), the towers of the Gropiusstadt (1960, 1964-75) and Märkischer Viertel in Berlin (1962, 1963-74), adopted as a model in many German cities. We also remember the Berlin Philharmonic (1956-63) by H. Scharoun, the Gallery of Modern Art in Berlin (1962-68) by L. Mies van der Rohe, the Olympic Stadium in Munich (1971-72) by F. Otto, the morphological studies of OM Ungers (search for new high-tech structures), disclosed in the 1980s, and the initiative of the Internationale Bauaustellung of Berlin (1977-87) for urban planning and architecture, which made this city almost a showcase of the avant-garde international in Europe. An event that confirmed the unchanged attraction of the Prussian metropolis was, in 1995, the “packaging of the Reichstag” by the American artist of Bulgarian origin Christo. The evocative work, of ephemeral duration, authorized with a unanimous vote by Parliament and immortalized in thousands of photos and filming, transformed the negative symbol of European history into a wish for peace in a few days. Norman Foster and represents one of the symbols of the new Berlin. It is in fact on it that the most ambitious interventions of contemporary architecture are concentrated, aimed at making the reunified city the symbol of the new European and post-industrial Germany. The center of these interventions is in particular the ultramodern Potzdamer district, built in an area previously crossed by the wall on a project by architects H. Hilmer and C. Sattler, whose design Renzo Piano also collaborated on. Among the projects included in the project are those of squares, public buildings, towers and executive buildings (above all that of Sony and Daimler-Benz), which saw the participation of personalities of international architecture such as the same Piano, I. Ming Pei, A. Isozaki, R. Rogers, H. Kollhoff, FO Gehry.

Germany Modern Arts