When we think about the European art, the first countries that come to our minds are usually Spain, Italy, or the Netherlands. However, Germany is a really rich land of ideas and this country brought many talented, extraordinary, unexplainable artists, about the paintings of whom the experts and scientists are still arguing at the present time. So, get acquainted with the most important milestones in the German art.
In the epoch of Neoclassicism – that movement took place in Germany much earlier than in France – there were three especially talented and prominent masters of the German art: Gottfried Schadow (1764-1850), Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), and Asmus Jacob Carstens (1754-1798). Whereas Schadow was a sculptor, the others were artists. The career of Carstens had been quite troubled and turbulent, as he was unable to finish a large number of his works. The key idea of the entire movement was, however, not that different than in France – the followers of this movement strived to revive the art and bring it to the level that it had during the times of the Ancient Greece and Roman Empire. However, there is one thing that differs the German epoch of Neoclassicism with other countries – German Neoclassicism was far richer in written works than in visual arts.
Caspar David Friedrich, one of the most prominent and genius artists Germany has ever had, belonged to the period of Romanticism, which was far more successful for Germany than the period of Neoclassicism. Friedrich had mostly painted landscapes and beautiful views, but he was extremely misunderstood by his colleagues and counterparts at that time, so his works remained underestimated for a long time.
Friedrich’s work named “Woman in front of the setting sun” shows the genuine genius of this remarkable artist
At the beginning of the 19th century – namely between 1815 and 1848 – there appeared a new style in the German art, literature, music, and interior design, known as Biedermeier. This style was somewhat an art of the prosperous middle class of Germany at that time. Simply put, artists painted realistic pictures with carefully stressed details, often referring to German virtues to some extent. The brightest representative of this movement is Carl Spitzweg, who remains a leading personality in the German Biedermeier movement up to the present days.
At the end of the century, there appeared an association named the Berlin Secession group, which was founded by painters Lovis Corinth and Max Liebermann in 1898. It was an influential, artistic group, which, however, did not follow any particular style.
The 20th century has been characterized by a large number of groups and movements. It was the time when Germany went through the most shameful period of its history, and the artists were well aware of it. The groups Die Brücke and Der Blauer Reiter were one of the most outstanding expressionist groups at the beginning of the 20th century. Dadaistic and Bauhaus schools were particularly popular among painters who produced works in a grotesque style, such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Max Ernst, and Kurt Schwitters.
The Nazi Party and Hitler – a former struggling artist – in particular were interested in the German art, so there is no surprise that the country experienced one of the worst and most notorious art periods during the Third Reich. Most of the avant-garde painters were forced to leave the country, whereas some were executed.