New Objectivity art: The anti-expressionism Weimar movement

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

Georg Scholz: 'Newspaper carriers (Work disgraces)' (1921)

Poor and rich side by side, and the rich man has porcine facial features — Georg Scholz captured the extremes of German society after WWI in a style reminiscent of caricature. The automobile was seen as a symbol of authority by Scholz and his fellow New Objectivity artists.

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

Otto Dix: 'Self Portrait' (1931)

Scholz's friend Otto Dix was regarded as an expert chronicler of the Weimar Republic. He delved into the big cities' underworlds and portrayed people in garish colors. The above self portrait is somber by comparison — but the many shades of gray and the crystal ball in the foreground may very well portend a gloomy future.

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

Rudolf Schlichter: 'Margot' (1924)

The Weimar Constitution proclaimed that women were equal to men, causing gender roles to change. Rudolf Schlichter's portrayal of a prostitute named Margot is typical for the "new woman" of the era: She has a short-trimmed bob, a cigarette and a self-confident pose. Nevertheless, the painter shows how life has marked the woman.

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

August Sander: 'Pastry Cook' (1928)

The exhibition at Hamburg's Bucerius Kunst Forum museum juxtaposes paintings from the school of New Objectivity with the era's New Vision photographs. August Sander portrayed hundreds of people from all walks of life for his "20th century people" series. The result is a fascinating portrait of post WWI society in Germany.

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

Albert Renger-Patzsch: 'Glas' (1928)

In 1920s advertising, photography increasingly replaced graphic representations. Albert Renger-Patzsch set the standards for product photography during that time. His focus is all about capturing the purity of surface, structure and shape.

New Objectivity exhibition: 'World in Transition: Art of the 1920s'

Reinhold Nägele: 'Weissenhof Housing Estate Stuttgart by night' (1928)

The Bucerius Kunst Forum's exhibition is part of the "100 years of Bauhaus" program celebrating the architecture and design movement's centennial, so naturally architecture has a place in the Forum's show. Reinhold Nägele's painting portrays a Bauhaus masterpiece, the Weissenhof Housing Estate in Stuttgart, which was built in only 21 weeks under the direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The show "World in Transition. Art of the 1920s" at Hamburg's Bucerius Kunst Forum mixes New Objectivity paintings and New Vision photographs. The artists, many scarred by WWI, sought to portray the world as it was.

Show the world as it is, without any frills: That was the goal of the New Objectivity painters and the New Vision photographers, who were active during the interwar era of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933).

At the time, many artists had returned from WWI and wanted to distance themselves from Expressionism and its anti-realism elements. Their guiding motto was to portray things as they were — with true-to-life details and exacting structural compositions that harkened back to the techniques of the old masters from centuries before.

From photographs to paintings, collages to drawings, many works of New Objectivity and New Vision are now on show in "World in Transition. Art of the 1920s," an exhibition at the Bucerius Kunst Forum museum in Hamburg.

'They all knew each other'

The juxtaposition of New Objectivity paintings and New Vision photographs is a logical outgrowth of the fact that the movements' artists and photographers often worked closely together and exchanged ideas.

Otto Dix's work, 'The Jeweller Karl Krall,' is one of the items in the exhibition

"They all knew one another. It was a big community back then," Kathrin Baumstark, curator of the exhibition, told DW. For instance, teh artist Otto Dix portrayed his friend and photographer Hugo Erfurth, who in turn took photos of Dix and his works.

The idea of combining photos and paintings in an exhibition is not new, Baumstark said, but it hasn't been done in quite some time. "In the mid-1920s, photos and paintings were often displayed together," the curator said — a practice that fizzled out.

But the exhibition in Hamburg has revived the custom. 

The exhibition "World in Transition. Art of the 1920s" is on show at the Bucerius Kunst Forum in Hamburg until May 19.