HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

Unit Two Assignment

Download a PDF of the assignment here.

Assignment #2: Spirit, Material, Revolution, and Discontent

due Tuesday, August 16 at the start of class PRINTED
Double-spaced, 12-point font (Times New Roman or similar)
500 – 700 words per essay (1500 – 2100 words total)
30% of final grade
For this assignment, please respond to three of the four essay prompts. Please follow the guidelines stipulated in each prompt, particularly with regard to use of readings. An important objective of this assignment is to incorporate the words of artists and critics into your analysis.
Basic Requirements for all prompts:
Each essay should be 500 – 700 words each. Please include the word count at the beginning of each essay.
You do not need to include a title for your essays, but be sure and name the prompt you are responding to.
Please use artworks or events only from the Unit 2 Image Bank.
Because these are short essays, please refrain from writing an introduction or conclusion.
For all quotations or paraphrases, use a single citation-format consistently. Please use Chicago, MLA or APA. Feel free to include lecture and discussion material or any outside sources. YOU MUST CITE ALL OUTSIDE SOURCES IN-TEXT. Please include a bibliography or works cited page. (One total for all three essays.)
 Carl Vinnen, “Quonsque Tandem (1911),” in German Expressionism. Documents from the End of the End the Wilhelmine Empire to the Rise of National Socialism, ed. Rose-Carol Washton Long (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 7.
 Vinnen, “Quonsque Tandem,” 6.
Print, photocopy, or attach the original pages from your Unit Two Reading Journal to the back of your paper. Complete and attach the “Requirements Checklist” to the front of your paper.
Prompt #1:      Expressionist Philosophies and Forms
“Expressionism is not a matter of intention, but of destiny…”
Paul Fechter, 1914
Published in early 1914 art critic Paul Fechter’s observations on Expressionism represent the profound optimism that energized the movement in the period that preceded WWI. Using quotations from artists, critics, etc., describe the “spirit” of Expressionism. Use at least two examples of art and/or architecture to explain how the Expressionist artists translated their philosophy into specific forms and styles.
Describe at least one of the following: 
Prompt #2:      Artist Responses to Social Change
“Ours is the avowal of revolution, of a new society, no lip-service, and so we wish to seriously set about our recognized task: to work together in the building of the new human community, the community of the active!”
Novembergruppe, 1920 – 21
Germany underwent many changes in the first three decades of the 20th century. From the expansion and then contraction of colonial power, to incredible defeat in WWI, to the transformation of an empire into a democracy in the post-war, to economic boom and bust—this was a period of profound political, economic, and social change. Artists responded accordingly.
Using examples of artworks and original texts, describe how artists responded to one or two major changes that Germany faced between 1914 and 1933.
Just a few topics you might consider: 
Prompt #3:      Man, Machine, Metropolis
“Technology is always only servant—and now it shall no longer serve base instincts, the senseless products of boredom, but the aspirations of the truly active human mind.”
Bruno Taut, 1919
Taut’s pleas to harness the power of technology came at a time when a post-WWI Germany was just beginning to recover from the world’s first use of weapons of mass destruction (i.e. poison gas) and other major technologies (i.e. airplanes) in war. The world was rapidly mechanizing; the impacts of the change seemed unpredictable. Using at least two examples of artworks, architecture, and/or artist groups, explain how artists represented or used technology either optimistically—as with Taut—or anxiously. Then, compare these examples of experimental culture to popular culture through the example of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis. Explain how the film represents a complex and ambivalent relationship to technology using specific visual and/or plot examples.
Prompt #4:      A New Realism: Dada and Neue Sachlichkeit
“As long as there are objects, art has no reason to ignore them or to subjugate them…”
Wilhelm Hausenstein, 1919
Relate Hausenstein’s observation to both Dada and Neue Sachlichkeit using at least one artist, artwork, or event from both movements. Consider how a return to the material of everyday life manifested a political message in Dada. Compare how a similar interest in reality manifested in Neue Sachlichkeit painting and/or photography. How did they compare? How did they differ? 


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