This comment was written by HAVC 135B on 2 Sep 2016.

HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

How did artists and the German public respond to technology and/or modern living? In what ways were these responses ambivalent or sometimes contradictory?

A couple of examples of work from artists that responded really well to the new development of technology and modern living in Germany were “Street, Berlin” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Metropolis by Fritz Lang. Both works served to express the feelings and outlooks that the artist had on modern society through their own eyes. Street Berlin by Kirchner was an expressionist piece that responded to the street scene of modern Berlin which was becoming on of the biggest cities in the world during the early 20th century. Kirchner’s work displayed two prostitutes- a modern representation of glamour and city life- who were surrounded by the masses of men who roamed the crowded city. The painting represented the feelings Kirchner often had while exploring the modern metropolis. For Kirchner there was an excitement displayed through the colors and style of painting and a dullness which was emphasized by the claustrophobic framing of the image: and this is where Kirchner possibly could have displayed ambivalence. Similar to Kirchner, Fritz Lang director of Metropolis, intended to express his insight and outlook on the metropolis industrialized lifestyle. One of the frequent concerns throughout the film is the relationship between man and machine. Without each other neither the machine or the metropolis lifestyle exists. Through the eyes of Freder the son of Joe we see what it is like to both live as a wealthy person and as a worker in the factory. After changing places with a worker Freder becomes one of thousands of workers who represent the catalyst for the machine. The film had been a Sci-Fi representation of a industrialized society that worked the people so hard that they ended up becoming machines and by overworking caused the metropolis to eradicate itself by eventually flooding. Lang's intentions although very futuristic exhibited the awes and fears of living in a society that valued the machine over the human proving to be very harmful for the majority of people.
- Summer 2016

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