"Decadence & Decay" Exhibition

Galerie St. Etienne

poster for "Decadence & Decay" Exhibition

This event has ended.

Weimar Germany has long fascinated contemporary audiences, inspiring popular interpretations like the hit musical Cabaret and the Metropolitan Museum’s acclaimed 2006 exhibition “Glitter and Doom.” The combination of unchecked libertinism and present-day awareness of the impending Holocaust holds the dramatic appeal of a well-crafted horror movie. The most compelling images of Weimar decadence are invariably tinged with presentiments of decay and destruction. Weimar-era artists appear to share with their future public knowledge of a fate they are powerless to forestall. Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and George Grosz had different ideas about art and its proper function within society, but together these three men captured the spirit of their time with exceptional force and cogency.

Unlike the earlier Expressionists, Weimar-era artists did not congregate in aesthetically oriented collectives such as the Blauer Reiter or Brücke. They drifted in and out of loose association with one another or, like Grosz, made alliances that were more political than artistic. Pinning a label on this disparate group of creators is not easy, and the museum director Gustav Hartlaub, who coined the term Neue Sachlichkeit, knew from the outset that his formulation was imperfect. Hartlaub divided Neue Sachlichkeit artists into two camps. The “Verists,” based largely in the urban north, were interested in documenting contemporary social phenomena. The “Magic Realists,” oriented both geographically and stylistically toward the south, favored a revival of Italian classicism. The two groups were aligned, respectively, with the political left and the right; the Magic Realists would easily accommodate Nazi tastes.

[Image: George Grosz "Café" (1918) Watercolor, gouache and ink on heavy textured white wove paper 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.]



from April 12, 2011 to June 12, 2011

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