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(436 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Expressionism The dominant modernist movement in German literature and art prior to the First World War (with the artistic groups Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter). Although the German Expressionists had formulated their artistic manifesto in critical opposition to Wilhelmine society, the majority of them celebrated the outbreak of the First World War. They shared the commonly felt fervor of August 1914, hoping that the war would “cleanse the Augean stable of old Europe” (Franz Marc). Regardless of political and economic…

Kollwitz, Käthe

(405 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Kollwitz, Käthe (July 8, 1867, Königsberg [Prussia] – April 22, 1945, Moritzburg [near Dresden]), German graphic artist, painter, and sculptor. The artist preoccupied herself with the World War for many years on end. War in itself was not a new theme for her; as early as 1897/1898, Kollwitz had already delved into the subject in the graphic cycle Ein Weberaufstand ( The Revolt of the Weavers, 1897/1898) and in a series of etchings entitled Bauernkrieg ( The Peasants’ War, 1903–1908). Unlike these early works, the works dealing with the First World War became testimonies o…

Grosz, George (Georg Ehrenfried Grosz)

(447 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Grosz, George (Georg Ehrenfried Grosz) (July 26, 1893, Berlin – July 6, 1959, Berlin [West]), German graphic artist and painter. Like so many others, young Grosz applied in November 1914 for military service as a volunteer. As he later wrote that he was moved not by enthusiasm, but probably by the opportunity of choosing a regiment. As early as May 1915 he was discharged on health grounds as unfit for service. Fear of another call-up, which finally took place in January 1917, crippled Grosz’s artistic work. He remained however productive. In 1917 there appeared the First Georg Grosz Portf…


(499 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Dadaism Protest movement led by artists, writers, and intellectuals who first spoke up from their Swiss exile in 1916 with the foundation of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. “Dada” was a term denoting anything that no longer wished to be associated with the World War and its devastating consequences, and with an arts and culture movement that had been unable to prevent the disaster. Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzara, Richard Huelsenbeck, Hans Richter, and others were among the first…

Beckmann, Max

(348 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Beckmann, Max (February 12, 1884, Leipzig – December 27, 1950, New York NY), German painter and graphic artist. When Beckmann went to the Eastern Front as a medical volunteer in 1914 he was already a well-known painter. The war, which he experienced at the Western Front in 1915, at first appeared to him as a magnificent natural spectacle, a “wonder” that he hoped would expand and enrich his artistic work: “My art is being fed here.” However, Beckmann’s reaction to the war changed: he became increa…

Dix, Otto

(393 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Dix, Otto (December 2, 1891, Untermhaus [now part of Gera] – July 25, 1969, Singen [Hohentwiel]), German painter and graphic artist. Dix continued longer than any other German artist to reprocess his war experience in his work. Trained as a machine-gunner, he served in the army throughout the war. In 1914, even before reporting to the front as a volunteer, he painted a Self-portrait as a soldier, and in 1915 a Self-portrait as Mars. Dix thus bears a strong resemblance to the radical agitator and fighter, disruptive of all forms of order, invoked by the early Expressi…


(582 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Futurism An avant-garde movement in Italian art with close affinities to cubism and constructivism as well as to the pre-1914 expressionist currents, combining a glorification of modern life with a radical rejection of tradition. The Italian futurists celebrated the outbreak of the World War in a similarly emphatic manner as the German expressionists. Where art strove to “make a tabula rasa of the past” (Giovanni Papini), where the traditional forms and achievements of civilization came to be challenged, where the muses and libraries were to be burned, t…