Unlike Modersohn-Becker’s robust and monumental depictions of motherhood, Kollwitz’s imagery is devoted to describing the human condition. Her work appeals on behalf of the working poor, the suffering, the dying and the grieving.
“ Middle class people held no appeal for me at all. Bourgeois life as a whole seemed to me pedantic. The proletariat, on the other had, had a grandness of manner, a breadth to their lives. I have never been able to see beauty in the upper class, educated person; he's superficial; he's not natural or true; he's not honest; and he's not a human being in every sense of the word.”
Her works depict the disastrous social conditions of the 1920s - inflation, strikes, malnutrition (though never gets involved with politics through her art). However, her work does get used a lot by communist and other left-wing groups because of the universality of her work.
Kollwitz’ work is unique in that while expressionistic, it doesn’t show the inner torment of the artist, rather it is a portrait of the society she is a part of.
1905-1950, he created more than 800 paintings and hundreds of prints and drawings. He began to study art at 15 years old at the academy in Weimar.
Influenced by the Impressionists early in his career (esp. Manet), which causes him to lighten his palette.
For a while creates large history paintings (similar to the French Romantics) until he went to Florence on a scholarship and starts painting religious subjects (crucifix) and contemporary paintings.
Interestingly because of his Academy background he felt that art needed to be monumental, three-dimensional, and spiritual (like the masters of old) and had an argument via a magazine with Marc. Beckmann argues that Matisse and Gauguin were merely decorative.
1914 volunteers for military service in WWI. Lives amongst horror/death for 1 year –turning point in his life. 1915 Suffers a nervous breakdown –discharges from military service. Makes complete break from past.
Max Beckmann Self-Portrait Woodcut, 1922 230 x 153 mm
B/t 1916-1917 he starts to paint religious subjects and his colour palette becomes cool, form more linear, angular and distorted, perspective distorts, paint application becomes thinner, and refers to Gothic models/ Grundwald.
As a student of Nietzsche he felt that there was something inherently wrong with the materialism that his society was consumed with. He also was interested in mysticism and occult readings and his art emphasises that the soul is trapped in the body. This theory comes out in his Hell Series and we see his attempt to express his frustration with the restrictions that tied the individual creative soul to a decayed and corrupted reality.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Beckmann lost his teaching position in Frankfurt and moves to Berlin. In 1937, his work was included in the Nazis’ exhibition of so-called “degenerate art.” The day after the show opened in July in Munich, the artist left Germany for Amsterdam, where he remained until 1947.
In his works such as Family Picture we see a multitude of symbols and icons which tend to be a puzzle to us.
Plates, flutes, violins, funnel-shaped horns, candles, fish and lamps pervade his paintings. Some argue that the candle (that is burnt out) has been used as the traditional symbol of death. While the lit candle and the lamps are used as methods of shedding light on the human drama.
The musical instruments represent the song of life.
We also see the pictorial space foreshortened, distorted, deformed and compressed (eg. the way people are painted or the way that the rooms that they are in seem to close around them) portray human misery, the altered human psyche, the individual alone, solitary in the company of others, in other words disengaged.
Before the outbreak of WWI, Klee and Macke travelled to Tunisa, where he began painting in full colour for the first time. His travels there would have an impact on his art of the rest of his career.
His works from N.Africa are painted in almost transparent layers (possibly due to his interest in visualizing dreams and psychic experiences). The works only have minute detail, while the rest of the picture is comprised of geometric shapes and forms.
Like many other German Expressionists, many of his works fell under the definition of “Degenerate Art” during the Nazi regime and he flees Germany, giving up a teaching post at Dusseldorf Academy.
Klee described the artist’s role as like that of a tree, drawing from nature but expressing it in an individual way. He argued that children’s art was more closer to nature as it had not been rationally organised .
Hammamet with Its Mosque , 1914 Watercolor and pencil on paper (20.6 x 19.4 cm)
"Colour has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever ... Colour and I are one. I am a painter."
Klee begins to apply this concept.
In these works there is:
a unity of colour and form.
A synthesis of architectural constructions and pictorial construction.
PAUL KLEE Lacks the intense feeling of Pablo Picasso ’s work. Or the formal mastery of Matisse . Klee’s ideas about pictorial space derive from Delaunay ’s work, notably his windows series. Like Kandinsky , Klee valued the “primitive” and especially the art of children . He admired the freedom, innocence and directness of their work. Both Kandinsky and Klee saw a connection between painting and music – seeking a visual art that could communicate emotion as clearly as music. Klee’s spidery exact line and scratching around the edges of his fantasy is full of post cubist overlaps.