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

HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

How did the political imperatives of Dada and of some Neue Sachlichkeit artworks and photography replace the experimental ones of Expressionism?

In the late 1910’s, after World War I, artists in Germany began to reject Expressionist art for a number of reasons: the main one being that it was esoteric in nature and did not address current political or social issues. Both Club Dada and the Neue Sachlichkeit emerged as a direct rejection to the expressionist art movement and chose to represent current life, with a focus on the tangible, in Weimar Germany.

Club Dada - which was active between the years 1919 and 1924 - was focused on destroying any traditional values of art and worked toward the “anti-art” in a satirical manner. Members of this club were heavily influenced by psychoanalysis and anarchism as an opposition to the war and nationalism. Art that was produced from Dada was meant to only represent the battles of everyday life - never any focus on the past. One of the most influential productions from this club was the introduction of the photomontage as a medium available for German artists. For the first time, famous images in mass media were being used as propaganda.

Around the same time, however, there was also the emergence of the Neue Sachlichkeit: a movement that also responded to crisis in Weimar Germany. This movement took a cynical approach - rather than a political as Dada had been - and returned back to the value of the object, rather than the Expressionist belief of the value of the feeling evoked by the object. One of the most notable qualities that this movement took on was a sense of detachment or passiveness, rather than passion as both expressionists and Club Dada had embodied.

- Summer 2016

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