Friday, June 10, 2011

New Objectivity as Echo

In the shattered aftermath of the Great War and the emergence of Modernism during the first 20 years of the 20th century, painters were faced with a What The Devil Do We Do Next situation. Various this's and that's popped up including a German movement called New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit).

It was rather ill-defined, as this Wikipedia entry indicates. There was the gross (pardon the pun) , crudely-drawn work of George Grosz. And then there was the calmer, less anger-fueled work of Christian Schad, who I'm likely to return to in future posts.

Schad fell into the distorted, cartoon-like New Objectivity practice, but not very far. What I find interesting is that his work sometimes resembles early paintings by untrained or poorly trained American painters. I doubt that he was aware of this American art, so what we have is simply a striking coincidence and not inspiration. Take a look:

Graf St. Genois - Christian Schad, 1927
Man Holding a Large Bible - Anni Phillips, c. 1826

Bettina - Christian Schad, 1942
Girl With Bird and Cage - Unknown artist, c. 1735-40


dearieme said...

The son of George Grosz, Marty Grosz, is an American jazzman - his stuff is pretty much to my taste. I can guess how he pronounces his surname from the title of one of his bands- Marty Grosz and Destiny's Tots.

Donald Pittenger said...

dearieme -- George Grosz changed his name towards the end of the Great War or not long after as a form of protest. The original spelling was "Gross" which means "large" or "great" in English and is pronounced in German as in English.

I didn't know about his son; thanks for the info.