Curious realism: Dada and Die neue Sachlichkeit in 1920s Karlsruhe

Shannon Connelly
This dissertation recovers the historical specificity of the terms and tactics that defined German realism after Dada. It focuses on a trio of artists—Karl Hubbuch, Rudolf Schlichter, and Georg Scholz—who studied together at the Karlsruhe Academy before World War I. Their innovative and immersive forms of realism, forged in the print workshops of the regional academy and later revised in dialogue with modernist networks in Berlin, challenge art historical understandings of the relationship
more » ... en Dada and Die neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity). Where realism had traditionally demanded distance and observation—a sober, level head and a practiced hand—the Dadaist heritage called for a politics and a poetics of total immersion. This dissertation tracks the legacy and the lingering traces of Dadaist strategies in the realist production of the German 1920s, examining how these pictorial modes signified in specific political, institutional, and regional contexts. It thus repositions a set of representational drawings, prints, photographs, and paintings that are usually valued for their fierce optical clarity, rather than for their emphatic, tactile made-ness. Chapter One establishes the challenge to realism posed by Rudolf Schlichter and his colleagues in the secessionist Gruppe Rih, whose members met as students at the Karlsruhe Academy between 1908 and 1914. Their disparate artworks performed a syncretic language of mental instability and formalist naiveté that sought to upend painterly norms in Karlsruhe. Chapter Two traces the modernist dialogues between Karlsruhe and Berlin through the drawn and printed montages of Karl Hubbuch, who developed an embodied form of somnambulist realism that was inspired by silent films and serial novels of the 1910s and 20s. Chapter Three examines the persistence of such mass cultural models and modes of vision in the satirical work of Georg Scholz, whose politically strident brand of painting and printmaking engaged with post-Dada narratives in Berlin. Chapter Four demonst [...]
doi:10.7282/t3dv1h58 fatcat:pqrftuboczfffof52bgswq45uy