German Painters of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit)

german painters new objectivity

Famous German Painters (Neue Sachlichkeit)

The golden 1920s in Germany: between June 14 and September 18 in 1925, the art exhibition Die Neue Sachlichkeit ( = The New Objectivity) takes place in Kunsthalle Mannheim (one of the most famous art museums Germany) near Frankfurt at Main. It’s the start of a new trend of art in the 20s and 30s with substantial, static and sober paintings. Most German painters of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) portraited people, painted still lifes or cities. The time between World War I and World War II was infused by social upheavals, which got also reflected in art: the paintings of the New Objectivism were all technically perfect done but didn’t show any emotionalism. In fact, emotionalism in paintings was seen as unobjective.

Top German Painters in 20th Century

Otto Dix

German painter Dix was born on December 2, 1891, in Untermhaus. Between 1905 and 1909, he learned to paint with the decoration artist Carl Senff. Later on, he went on a scholarship to the art and crafts school in Dresden. During World War I, Otto Dix volunteered for military service and later on began studying again at the art academy in Dresden as a pupil of Otto Gussmann.

German painter Dix was excellent in his field, who left more than 6000 drawings and sketches. One of his most famous paintings is a triptych called Großstadt (City).

Famous Otto Dix paintings: Großstadt ( = Metropolis), Der Krieg ( = The War), Vanitas. 

Christian Schad

Christian Schad was born on August 21, 1894, in Miesbach and was raised in Munich, where he also studied art. After a few semesters, he dropped out of the academy and started working on woodcuts in his own studio. When World War I broke out, he simulated a heart defect and flew to Switzerland, where he followed an art movement called Dada.

Famous German oil painter Schad was a master of the cool, objective paint application and was considered as one of the best painters of human skin. Selbstportrait mit Modell (Self-portrait with a model) from 1927 is one of his most famous paintings and also of the New Objectivity. The famous artists painting shows himself in a see-through green shirt with a naked woman in the background. She is having the typical pageboy haircut of the 1920s. The scar in her face was back then seen as a proof of love by women from Napoli, whose jealous husbands inflicted them to their wives. Schad himself claimed, that he got inspired/ saw this unknown woman in a stationery shop, where she just wanted to buy something. 

Famous Christian Schaf paintings: Sonja, Selbstbildnis mit Modell ( = Self-Portrait). 

George Grosz

Georg Grosz was born on July 26, 1893, in Berlin. During his time at the arts and crafts school in Dresden, he met German painter Otto Dix. Later on, Georg Grosz, who “didn’t learn anything but only how to make plaster casts” in Dresden, kept on studying in Berlin as the pupil of Emil Orlik. During World War I, he was a volunteer infantryman, but later on, was released from the service because of unsuitability. According to Grosz, he didn’t want to have a German name anymore and changed it into the English version “George”. Later on in his life, Grosz emigrated to the United States, where he had a lectureship at the New York Students Art League. Later on, he celebrated great success as a painter. He died in 1859 after a fall down the stairs due to drunkenness during a visit back in Germany. Until today, he is considered one of the most famous German painters of the 20th century. For instance, a big coffee house at the famous Kurfürstendamm in Berlin is named after him.

Most of George Grosz paintings show extremely drastic and provocative representations, which are often characterized by political statements. Typical subjects are the metropolis, its absences (murders, perversion, violence) as well as the class antagonisms during that time. 

Famous George Grosz paintings: Das Begräbnis (The Funeral), Kann oder Hitler in der Hölle ( = Cain – or Hitler in Hell). 

Rudolf Schlichter

Rudolf Schlichter was born on December 6, 1890, in Calw. Between 1907 and 1909, he visited the arts and crafts school in Stuttgart and from 1910 on the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. During that time, Schlichter sold pornographic graphics under the pseudonym Udor Retyl and was living together with the prostitute Fanny Habluetzel. Same as the other German painters in this list, Schlichter was ordered to serve at the front during World War I but came back in 1916 after a hunger strike.

During the time of national socialism in Germany, some of his paintings got displayed in the propagandistic art exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerated Art) in Munich, which represented the reviled art styles Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism and New Objectivity. In order to achieve a “chaotic” effect, the works in the exhibition rooms were deliberately unfavorably hanged and provided with abusive sayings at the walls. 

Famous Rudolf Schlichter paintings: Bertold Brecht, Ernst Jünger. 

Karl Hubbuch

Karl Hubbuch was born on November 21, 1891, in Karlsruhe and one of the best German painters of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit). Between 1908 and 1912, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. Here, he became friends with Rudolf Schlichter and Georg Grosz. Later on, Hubbuch studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. Between 1925 and 1933, he was a professor at the Academy in Karlsruhe. During the time of National Socialism, he was forbidden to work as a painter.

Famous Karl Hubbuch paintings: Marianne vor dem Spiegel, Die Schwimmerin von Köln. 

Featured image: Graf St. Genois d’Anneaucourt (Christian Schad) – Musée national d’art moderne – Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou – Parijs {april 2014}  – Esther Westerveld flickr – CC BY 2.0
February 9, 2017
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