From Weimar to Nazism: Tracing Berlin’s History Through Its Art


Last month, the Neue Galerie in New York City opened the exhibition Berlin Metropolis: 1918–1933, which featured more than 300 works of painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, photography, architecture, and film. The exhibition, which is still ongoing, aims to “cover the city [of Berlin] from various perspectives in order to demonstrate the dramatic changes that occurred at this time” — primarily the Weimar years. As you can see from the below selection of images, Berlin in that era was a city of intellectual and artistic dynamism; in retrospect, though, we also know that in its later years it was a city on the verge of capitulating to Nazism. The below selection of artworks, drawn from the exhibition’s attendant book, runs chronologically, so that you can trace the development of the city’s art for yourself.

George Grosz (1893-1959) Panorama (Down with Liebknecht), 1919 Pen and ink and watercolor on paper Private Collection © 2015 Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) Dada Triumphs (The Exacting Brain of a Bourgeois Calls Forth a World Movement), 1920 Watercolor and collage on wove paper mounted on board Private Collection © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Poster for the film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin: Symphony of the Metropolis) directed by Walther Ruttmann, 1927 Colored lithograph Printer: Lindemann/Lüdecke, Berlin

Herbert Bayer (1980-1985) Lonely Metropolitan, 1932 (signed reproduction 1970-80) Photograph of collage; silver gelatin print Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Rudolf Schlichter (1890-1955) Blind Power, 1937 Oil on canvas Berlinische Galerie