German Art and Architecture

German Art and Architecture
  • German Art in the Middle Ages
  • Renaissance and Baroque Art
  • 19th and early 20th Century Art
  • Post-war and Contemporary Art
  • The Presence of Art in Germany

19th and early 20th Century Art in Germany

In the early 19th Century, J. F. Overbeck, Schadow-Godenhaus, Peter von Cornelius and Schnorr von Carolsfeld joined to form the group of Nazarenes in Rome; and Alfred Rethel became leader of a school of German historical painting. The Biedermeier and Neo-Romantic Period were artistic movements that marked the second half of that century; Moritz von Schwind and Carl Spitzweg are representatives of the former while the latter period brings forth such names as Anselm von Feuerbach and Hans von Marées.

The early years of the 20th Century brought about a fresher, more vital sensibility, with the strong influences of French painter Paul Gauguin. At the same time, the English art nouveau innovations were adopted by German artists and termed Jugendstil. One of the most important movements bred in Germany in the early part of the century was expressionism, which developed in three stages, each stage with its particular characteristic artists: the first, known as The Bridge (1905), included E. L. Kirchner and Emil Nolde as main representatives; The Blue Rider stage (1911), attracted many foreign artists, among them Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger and Wassily Kandinsky; and in the decade of 1920, artists such as Otto Dix and Max Beckmann were the exponents of disenchanted realism that formed the basis of a movement known as the New Objectivity.

Several of these artists formed a part of and taught at the Bauhaus school, led by Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. This is where functionalism flourished, an artistic trend that promoted experimentation and abstraction as the cornerstones of the ideal of combining artistic beauty with usefulness. However, the Nazi regime destroyed this development in favour of heroic, propagandistic art of little, if any, artistic significance.