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"The Strongest Expression Of Our Time - New Objectivity / Neue Sachlichkeit in Hanover"
2001-12-09 until 2002-03-10
Sprengel Museum
Hannover, , DE

The time has come to re-evaluate the Hanover artists of the New Objectivity movement, who, until now, have been examined from an entirely local perspective. They should be placed in a wider context and with the insights recent research provide.

The Strongest Expression Of Our Time were the words Grethe Jürgens used in 1932 to characterise the simple clarity with which social commentary appeared as images of workers, average people and those who had lost their social positions in Hanover of the mid-1920s. Several artists born around 1900, including Friedrich Busack, Grethe Jürgens, Hans Mertens, Gerta Overbeck, Karl Rüter, Ernst Thoms and Erich Wegner, formed a loose group of artists in the provincial capital. It has been more than a quarter of a century since the last extensive exhibition of these works was mounted (at the Kunstverein Hannover). This would suffice as a reason to re-examine the most significant pieces from a 21st century perspective and to compare them with images by their contemporaries such as Dix, Grosz, Radziwill, and Schad. The Strongest Expression Of Our Time show will encompass more than 300 oil paintings and works on paper.

The unique elements of the Hanover group have rarely been examined. Abstraction, Constructivism and Merz were strong influences on these artists. This expresses a tendency away from the post- expressionism of the early 1920s towards clear repesentationalism that is different from developments in other centres of New Objectivity, such as Munich, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Berlin and Dresden.

The exhibition will not only include familiar works; recent acquisitions by the Sprengel Museum Hannover will be shown as well, including previously unknown pieces. Additional works come from more than 50 private collections, much of which has not been previously available to the public. The catalogue (in addition to the documentation in the show) provides thorough research as well as art historical and theoretical essays by significant experts, full of new insights into what is a complex phenomenon.

Another important aspect of the exhibition is the convenient myth of a watershed in 1933. New Objectivity, in Hanover and further afield, was not always branded as Degenerate Art; on the contrary, it was celebrated as the New German Romanticism. Many painters included in this movement, and not only Hanover artists (such as Adolf Wissel and Bernhard Dörries), exhibited extensively during the Nazi period in the 1930s. Other representatives also participated in exhibitions during this period and Thoms and Rüter were even in the infamous Great German Art exhibition in Munich. The question here is: to what extent were New Objectivity and Nazi painting the same or differentNULL These issues have not been discussed in the context of Hanover, or they were carefully kept secrets. New insights into these works can be found by evaluating them in both a historical and cultural manner.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung and Stadtsparkasse Hannover. Catalogue 44 DM (22.50 EUR)

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