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New Objectivity: Showing the Weimar era as it was

Katharina Abel db
February 11, 2019

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.

"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.