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October 29, 2011

Open Thread [Truman North]

Below the fold, A short essay on art culture in the Weimar Repbublic. Apologies to resident art guy CAC for the amateur opinion.

But it's essentially another open thread, since the other one is stale.

On Weimar and the Struggle for Continuity as Expressed Through Art

At the crossroads of impoverishment, upheaval, technological acceleration, and reinvigorated leftism resides an avant-garde which moves with synergy and abandon to commit acts of creative destruction in the spheres of art, life, work and culture. It is the same in all places and all cultures where these four forces meet. And it was no different in Weimar, which was born from the ashes of the Second Reich and their defeat in the Great War, in the adolescence of the electric century.

In this, I essentially agree with E.J. Hobsbawn, the Jewish Communist historian who worked in Germany at the sunset of the Weimar Republic, during the Second World War, and its immediate aftermath. But where he sees Weimar as the fertilizer for European art and culture for the rest of the century, my background in art history informs my view that Weimar was a necessary maturing step for an art world which exploded with new ideas, techniques, and media following the revolutionary period of 1848-1852.

In fact, the film-makers of the Weimar era did indeed create the tropes and conventions we still see repeated and refined today in artistic and popular films and TV. However, even they required inspiration from those who were working in still media in Europe during the prior 25 or 30 years. Still work movements such as impressionism, romanticism, the absurdist plates of Odilon Redon, the compressed insanity of Van Gogh and Munch, Fauvism (Derain and Matisse), primitivism, expressionism, Picasso’s many revolutionary works in paint and collage, the abstractions of Russian, Italian and Spanish artists among many others, Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and Dadaist work; the statuary of Rodin, Boccioni and Brancusi; the architecture of the Crystal Palace, The Eiffel Tower and the Paris Opera; the interior design of Horta’s Stairway, Tassel House. All of these predate and inform the Weimar’s artists.

Rather than say that Weimar’s artists were the genesis of European art in the 20th century, I would rather say that they were excellent and innovative craftsmen who applied the ideas of 19th century and early-20th century art to new media (which I don’t mean to diminish—it’s no mean feat), and built upon the foundation laid by others during the same period.

That they did this within the cultural crucible of the Weimar Republic ought not to be a surprise.

And since you probably skipped all that crap, here's a nice funny Internet video.

digg this
posted by Open Blogger at 07:38 PM

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