Saturday, August 13, 2011

Modernity in German art 1910–37

The NSW Art Gallery's "The mad square: modernity in German art 1910–37" features work by Beckmann, Dix, Grosz, Höch and Lissitzky. along with performances of inter-war music. As well as paintings and political posters there are some sculptures, and some furniture from the Bauhaus.

Last night was a a private viewing followed by an evening of Weimar-style music with "Pierrot Lunaire and Berlin cabaret songs". The Cabaret started with a recreation of Marlene Dietrich's Gorilla suit striptease (although this is from the film "Blonde Venus" made after "The Blue Angel", which made her name). The NSW Gallery could not quite capture the decadence of a Berlin nightclub, particularly as management had banned red wine during the interval as it might stain the floor tiles in the foyer.

The exhibition is arranged into:
  1. Expressionism in Berlin
  2. WWI and the revolution
  3. Dada
  4. Bauhaus
  5. Constructivism
  6. Metropolis
  7. New Objectivity
  8. Power and 'degenerate' art
There is also an excellent shop at the end of the exhibition, with objects for sale including a chromed Zeppelin sculpture.

The exhibition move to the National Gallery of Victoria in late November. The dark themes of the exhibition clash with the sparkling blue of Sydney's sky and harbor and might better suite the more European atmosphere of Melbourne.

Also there is a display of "Bauhaus International: Neues Bauen International 1927/2002" at Sydney College of the Arts. This is aptly located in Callan Park, which is the center of planning controversy, with the use of the billions of dollars of real-estate of a Hospital for the Insane, being decided by a government appointed trust.

The Bauhaus was at the centre of a a movement in social architecture, which has carried on to the present day. In 2002 the students and staff of the current "Bauhaus Dessau" visited Sydney and worked on a project to plan an area of Sydney's inner west . During the visit I give the Bauhaus students a seminar on ICT and architecture. The students produced " 3rd trimester" with 22 pages of master planning ideas for linking Sydney's inner west to the CBD with ICT (Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, 2002, ISBN 3-936796-04-1).

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