German Art of the Twentieth Century

By Werner Haftmann; Alfred Hentzen et al. | Go to book overview

foreword

The exhibition accompanying this book, the first of its kind to be organized in America since Alfred H. Barr Jr.'s pioneering one at the Museum of Modern Art in 1931, has been designed to present as comprehensive a showing of German twentieth-century art as our museum space will permit. It is a qualitative selection, nevertheless, and while all the major German artists of this century are represented, usually by two or more examples of their work, some quite reputable painters and sculptors had to be omitted. This has been done not only for space reasons, but also to avoid the possible tediousness of a survey of more artists than the average gallery visitor is able or willing to digest at one viewing. Fortunately for the reader of this book, both German authors, Dr. Haftmann and Dr. Hentzen, have availed themselves of the opportunity to discuss and to illustrate a number of artists and their works which it was not found possible to include in the exhibition. On other the hand, because of the importance of prints in German twentieth-century art, William S. Lieberman, Curator of Prints, of the Museum of Modern Art, who has been wholly responsible for the print selection in the exhibition, has included and discussed a quite extensive body of graphic work, practically all of it drawn from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Print Room of the Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition begins with the artists of Die Brücke expressionist movement, from its inception about 1905, coincident with the rise of the Fauves in France. It continues through the next wave of German expressionism, known as Der Blaue Reiter, begun in 1911, the Neue Sachlichkeit or New Realism at the end of and immediately after the first World War, the Bauhaus movement of the 1920s and early '30s and, ignoring the false pathos and propaganda art of the Nazi regime, concludes with a highly selective representation of some of the leading artists of post-World War IIGermany.

As the one chiefly responsible for the selection of the paintings and sculpture in the exhibition (Dr. Haftmann and Dr. Hentzen have given valuable advice in their respective fields, as has Dr. Kurt Martin, Director of the Fine Arts Academy, Karlsruhe), I have, of course, attempted to secure the finest possible examples of each artist's work; and whatever quality the exhibition possesses is surely due to the extraordinarily generous response of German and American collectors, both public and private, to our requests for loans.

-11-

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