A Review of War-Revolution-Weimar: On Ida Katherine Rigby’s Exhibition and Catalog Essays

weimarBeginning with Max Pechstein’s cover illustration for the Novembergruppe’s book, Rigby sets a clear tone for her catalog. Portrayed is an able bodied man, shirtless and with flames erupting from his chest. Above his head reads “AN ALLE KUNSTLER” which when translated means “to all artists” and served as a message to the German Expressionists. From the fiery introduction, Rigby transitions smoothly into the War Period where she focuses on the attitudes that created art.

The War Period

Rigby states how many German soldiers emerged from World War I as vehement opponents to war. With brief yet concise explanations, Rigby juxtaposes the historical influences of the period along with dark depictions of a post-war culture, shedding further light on the mind state of artists who were working during this period. Otto Dix and Christian Rohlfs are among the largest contributors to this section.

Political Posters

What is the most interesting section of this catalog is the fourth segment which covers political posters during the Revolution. The now socialist government moved to allign itself with the Expressionists. They had hoped that this group of artists would ignite in the workers the same spirit that had caused them to revolt in the first place. What was inevitably created were posters with blatant political satire that were rich in harsh imagery and color, unlike what the infamous Daumier had been doing during the French Revolution two hundred years before.

The Weimar Art Period

The Weimar Republic refers to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany. The culture of this government lasted from 1919 to 1933 when Hitler and the Nazis party rose to power. It is during this period that the aforementioned political posters would flourish, the beginning to Bauhaus would be introduced to the world and Germany would be viewed as an intellectual center. Otto Dix is most assocaited with this period as he was very prolific during these years. Rigby includes many of his poster throughout th book and especially in conjunction with the Weimar Period.

Overall, Rigby compiled a clear exhibition and accompanying catalog. It is both intriguing and concise at the same time which allows for the reader to take time while studying the images that she has chosen to portray along with her essays. Its a different look at Germany, as the Weimar period is not often covered in-depth as it is here.

War-Revolution-Weimar by Ida Katherine Rigby is available through the Sa Diego State University Press with ISBN 0916304620.

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