September 02, 2016

Post WW 2 Art in the two Germanys Andrew Taylor Sept 2, 2016

Only the people who have experienced bitter struggle and then acknowledged and depicted the Death and collective evil can summon the will and hope to build a new Life.

(i) The Post-WW2 Federal Republic of Germany's Art works
The competent post WW 2 abstract works by the West German artists Willi Bauermeister and Ernst Wilhelm Nay seem to be sublimated diversions from life. The F.R.G artistic preoccupation with individualism/ existentialism was shared across the western world following the defeat of German fascism. Why ? 
Where was the hope for a new world of peace and solidarity expressed for instance in the UN Charter ?

The abstract pieces by the West German Willi Bauermeister and Ernst Wilhelm Nay appear to those who actually experienced Nazi invasion and war as stilted diversions from reality.
What does this West German phenomenon in the world of art tell us?
Where is the death and mourning in such works?
Where are the signs of the energies of the new post-war democratic society constantly celebrated in words by the "Free World"?

Ernst Wilhelm Nay composition

(ii) Resisting the Denial of Guilt and Death: The GDR's Hans Grundig's art

In post-war East Germany (The GDR) many of the artists were victims of the Fascist terror. The GDR was a refuge and beacon of hope for leftists, Jews and the enemies of the Third Reich.
Contrast the clued-in materialist vantage-point, in the figurative painting "Den Opfern des Faschismus (zweite Fass)/ To the Victims of Fascism (Second Version), 1946/49, a direct, expressionist work by the East German Hans Grundig, portrays two murdered friends who had been incarcerated with him in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In a narrow open grave, their stiff foregrounded corpses fill the frame beneath a blood-red sky arrayed with swooping, bomber-like vultures.

"To the victims of fascism (second drum) / To the Victims of Fascism" (Second Version),  Hans Grundig 1948 /49
Hans Grudig is an example of a socialist artist right at the end of the war who was not Jewish, dedicating a work to the victims of the Concentration camps. 
An anti-fascist, he joined the German Communist Party in 1926, and was a founding member of the arts organization Assoziation revolutionärer bildender Künstler in Dresden in 1929. Hans Grudig was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp from 1940–1944 because of his Communist party affiliation. His wife was Jewish. He did two versions of  "To the Victims of Fascism", one with the star and one without. It’s one of the rare examples in German art that actually directly confronted the Nazi concentration camp atrocities.
Only the people who have experienced bitter struggle and then acknowledged and depicted the Death and collective evil can summon the will and hope to build a new Life.
painting #2: Hans Grundig -The Sign of the Future (1935), showing what the artist thought Germany would be like due to Nazi leadership)

Hans Grundig -The Sign of the Future 1935

(iii) Toward a society without exploitation and war

I love the murals from Alexanderplatz in former Berlin of East Germany (German Democratic Republic). Here are 2 from that place which show the humanist use of space & images of the GDR socialist realism school.

This Mural surrounds the Haus des Lehrers, East Berlin, and was designed by Walter Womacka, one of the most outstanding artists of the GDR
another view of the Haus des Lehrers panels designed by Walter Womacka

two details from the Haus des Lehrers mural by W Womacka celebrate love, science, team-work and the common good

The Dove of Peace: Womacka mosaic detail, Eisenhuettenstadt | GDR Socialist art and design

No comments: