i Georg Schrimpf, Oskar Maria Graf, 1918, detail, painting on canvas, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich

20 – The Art of Weimar Germany: Modernity in the Balance

On campus

Course 20 – Summer School on campus

Monday 26 – Friday 30 June 2023
Dr Niccola Shearman

Course description

The Weimar Republic’s startling rate of social progress was matched by a dizzying variety of cultural expressions keeping pace with perpetual change. When, crushed by economic crisis and political conflict, the era came to its chilling end in 1933, the art of cinema had become one of Germany’s most successful exports, and a refined instrument of propaganda. Fighting the opposite corner, John Heartfield’s photo-montage continued the assault on tradition first launched with paper and scissors by Berlin Dada. Meanwhile, Hannah Höch’s work exemplifies the central position of women in art as much as it highlights the paradox of the ‘Neue Frau’; situated somewhere between media-construct and reality.

This course revisits the era that set the standard for creative progress, a century ago: from Expressionism’s last stand to the sober gaze of New Objectivity; landmarks of Bauhaus design; architecture, painting, photography, cinematic arts, cabaret, commercial design, typography and filmic writing. Everything was in the mix of this fertile ecosystem, rife with contradictions and where all that glittered was not gold.

Lecturer's biography

Dr Niccola Shearman is a freelance art historian, with teaching affiliations to The Courtauld and the University of Manchester. She specializes in German and Austrian twentieth-century art, with research interests in printmaking, in theories of perception originating in the Gestalt school of psychologists and in the careers of women artists and writers, in 1920s Berlin and in exile in the UK. Academic articles and book reviews have covered similar themes and she is currently working on a book based on her PhD thesis; an examination of the emotional investment in the woodcut print in Germany after the First World War.