Neue Sachlichkeit

   an aesthetic style characterized by simplicity and sobriety. The word Sachlichkeit, roughly, "objectivity," was used in prewar Germany to describe the architectural impact of Peter Behrens* and Walter Gropius.* However, it was the shock induced by the war, as well as the dislo-cation following in its wake, that led many artists (and writers) away from Expressionism* through a flirtation with Dada* and finally to a "new objectiv-ity." Largely confined to 1923-1929, the style was sober and sometimes banal, and it rejected the emotional vitality typical of art since 1900. As visual art, it was marked by sharp, simple, and unadorned line.
   Gustav Hartlaub,* director of Mannheim's Kunsthalle, first brought clarity to the term. In May 1923 he began soliciting works that featured the "tangible reality found in much of the era s art. He hoped to amass artists who spurned "impressionistically vague and expressionistically abstract art, and whose work was "neither sensuously external nor constructively internal. Among others, he contacted Max Beckmann,* George Grosz,* and Otto Dix.* Evoking "a feverish feeling for reality, his exhibition opened in the summer of 1925 and was entitled Die neue Sachlichkeit; the term was soon a fashionable de-scriptor of Germany s post-Expressionist mood (a popular 1928 foxtrot was entitled "Es liegt in der Luft mit der Sachlichkeit —"There s a sobriety in the air ).
   Walter Laqueur has warned against equating Weimar s cultural life with "the plays and theories of Brecht, the creations of the Bauhaus and the articles published by the Weltbuhne." His caveat holds for Neue Sachlichkeit. The main-stream of Weimar s cultural life tended to be more conservative and wedded to tradition (including facets of Expressionism) than one might gather from many depictions of the era. Aware that the new realism had its conservative ("Clas-sicist ) wing as well as a politically Left ("Verist ) wing, Hartlaub included both groups in his exhibition (Neue Sachlichkeit has since been subdivided fur-ther). The Classicists—for example, Carl Grossberg, Anton Raderscheidt, and Rudolf Dischinger—rejected revolutionary tendencies and often accepted the Republic. Among the movement s writers, a similar split is detected between Hans Grimm* or Hans Carossa (rightists) and Robert Musil* or Hermann Broch (leftists).
   Neue Sachlichkeit, now deemed Expressionism s truce with the Republic s grim reality, ran its course by 1930. Yielding to a decorative and contemplative style, many of its artists became immersed in middle-class lives at art schools.
   REFERENCES:Barron, German Expressionism; German Realism of the Twenties; Hermand, "Unity within Diversity?"; Laqueur, Weimar; Long, German Expressionism; Nis-bet, German Realist Drawings; Willett, Art and Politics.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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