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Objects as History in Twentieth-Century German Art: Beckmann by Peter Chametzky

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By Peter Chametzky

This publication presents a stimulating assessment of twentieth-century German artwork, targeting the various period's key works via Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Hannah H?ch, Willi Baumeister, Arno Breker, Joseph Beuys, and Gerhard Richter. In Peter Chametzky's cutting edge technique, those works develop into representatives instead of representations of twentieth-century background. that's, the artwork right here doesn't easily illustrate an issue, the paintings is the argument. Chametzky attracts on either scholarly and renowned resources to illustrate how the works (and from time to time, the artists themselves) interacted with, or even enacted, old occasions, procedures, and ideas. He asserts the ongoing historic position of fabric paintings works in an period while much less fabric forms--photography, movie, tv, video, electronic images--have assumed the functionality of visually depicting modern background.

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Grosz created and distributed some of the most remarkable and memorable political graphic art of the twentieth century. In series such as The Face of the Ruling Class, published in 1921 by the Malik Press, which he helped found with his Communist Dada colleagues, the brothers John Heartfield and Wieland Herzfelde, he savagely criticized postwar Germany, especially the alliances struck between politicians, militarists, and capitalists. The book’s fifty-seven drawings portray the violence of World War I as a prelude to class war.

Two years later Hollywood produced an infinitely better-known and more successful film dealing in its own way with exile. ”69 This anthem played America’s commitment as the leading man’s personal, male, and romantic (in all senses of the term) choice. Contemporaneously with Bogart’s arrival as a major star, and Departure’s arrival in New York, Lewis Mumford theorized the need for the emergence of a “new man” in defiance of the era’s traumas. In The Condition of Man (1944) he wrote, “The period through which we are living presents itself as one of unmitigated confusion and disintegration.

And, as Selz points out, Beckmann’s painting reads like a single movie frame rather than like a moving image. Cinema’s Paris and Berlin debuts as collective public entertainment in 1895 built on and developed a hunger for moving pictures, which had earlier been fed by individual viewing apparatuses such as the zoetrope and kinetoscope. The scale of the projected public image links it to the collective spectator experience of the painted panorama and history painting. In his 1934 essay on the cinema, Erwin Panofsky, among the bestknown and most important interpreters of Medieval and Renaissance art, keenly aware of motion pictures’ growing power vis-à-vis paintings, compared their collective creation to that of the great Gothic cathedrals.

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