Founded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus was an art school with an international outlook established after World War I under the direction of Walter Gropius. With its innovative approach and unique philosophy, the Bauhaus not only revolutionised the way art was created and perceived, but also had an enormous impact on architecture, design and the overall aesthetics of the 20th century. The Bauhaus is founded by the German architect Walter Gropius, who wants to create a school that combines art, craft and technology. The aim is to train a new generation of artists capable of meeting the needs of modern society. Bauhaus emphasises collaboration between different disciplines and promotes the idea of the total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk, inspired by medieval construction huts), where architecture, design and art merge seamlessly. Another important feature of Bauhaus is its emphasis on functionality and minimalist design. This results in a clear, geometric language of form that is still considered typical for the Bauhaus today. The teachers at the Bauhaus are themselves renowned artists and designers, including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lyonel Feininger. They not only teach theoretical concepts, but also place great emphasis on practical experience. In the institution's workshops, interdisciplinary housing and living concepts are developed, culminating in exhibitions such as that of the model house at the Horn in Weimar. For political reasons, the Bauhaus moves from Weimar to Dessau in 1924 and is finally closed when the National Socialists seize power in 1933.
In 1898 the Berlin Secession is founded as a counter-movement to the established academically oriented art scene. At the time of its foundation, the association consisted of 65 artists led by Max Liebermann, including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The artists turn away from romanticised historicism and, inspired by everyday situations, develop a modern formal and pictorial language. During the years of its existence, the group organised independent exhibitions in its own premises, with a focus on the internationality of the works shown. The group's firm establishment in the art market brought new conflicts due to its size and the diversity of the artists. Thus, in 1910, the " New Secession" split off.
The artists' group "Der Blaue Reiter" (The Blue Rider) is one of the most important art movements of German Expressionism. "Der Blaue Reiter" was founded by the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, who wished to make a new mark on exhibitions and publications in the field of fine art. Exhibitions of the "Blaue Reiter" not only show works by members of the association, but also exhibit progressive works by international avant-gardists. Even more important than the exhibitions is an almanac that Kandinsky and Marc published in 1912. The almanac bundles essays and manifests from different genres - art, literature, theatre and music - and reflects Kandinsky's utopia of one convergence across all forms of art. In keeping with these views, the artistic programme is characterised by great diversity. Adherents of the group are convinced that every form of art has to come from within an artist. Thus, art is no longer a representation of society, but becomes a way of expressing emotions and inner experiences. With the outbreak of the First World War, the group splintered.
The artists' group "Die Blaue Vier" (The Blue Four) was an influential association of four outstanding Expressionist artists: Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee and Alexej von Jawlensky. The group was founded in Weimar in 1924. Already before the war, all artists had participated in exhibition activities of the artists' association "Der Blaue Reiter", which is commemorated through its name. The idea for the formation came from Galka Scheyer, a New York-based art dealer of Russian origin. She organised several exhibitions in the USA hoping to establish the artists on the art market and to ensure that they were known in the USA. Through Scheyer's establishment of her own exhibition house in the Hollywood Hills, the "Blue Four" had a direct influence on the Californian art scene. Their works are exhibited in renowned galleries and museums around the world and are now part of important private and institutional art collections.
The artists' group "Brücke" was founded in Dresden in 1905 by architecture students Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Since none of them had completed any artistic studies, there is no art-theoretical approach as a fundament behind the group, unlike in the case of the "Blaue Reiter". What is ostensible is an urge for public visibility and recognition outside civic society. The group is an unconventional form of living community which reflects a uniform artistic style. 1910 marks the peak of the "bridge style", which is characterised, among other things, by intense colour contrasts, coarsening of forms and simplification of motifs. This sometimes develops from the preferred use of various printing techniques, such as woodcut and etching. The artists' main focus is on working quickly and intuitively in the outdoors and interpreting nature in a way that expresses one's senses. When the artists moved to Berlin in 1911, the urban environment became increasingly present in their lives and oeuvres. After increasing estrangement, the artists eventually separated in 1913. For a time, Hermann Max Pechstein, Otto Mueller and Emil Nolde, among others, joined the group and influenced the development of the "Brücke". Today, the works of the artists from the "Brücke" are considered, along with those of the "Blaue Reiter", to be the most important evidence of German Expressionism and can be found in many renowned art collections.
The "Freie (Free) Secession" was formed in 1914 as a spin-off of the Berlin Secession. Until its collapse ten years later, 50 artists, including Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Mueller, Max Beckmann and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, worked in the group under the leadership of Max Liebermann. Exhibitions are not only held with the members, but also in honour of artists who have already died.
Informal art, in short Informel, developed in France as a counter-movement to geometric abstraction. It was given its name by Michel Tapié, who curated the exhibition "Signifiants de l'Informel" at Studio Facchetti in Paris in 1951. Overall, the movement is characterised by an urge for freedom - this is evident in the composition of the pictures as well as in the free use of materials. Within the style, various currents distinguish themselves, including Tachism, Art Brut and Lyrical Abstraction, which originated in France. There are various overlaps between the different styles, and parallels can also be found with Abstract Expressionism, which developed in America. French pioneers of Informel are Jean Fautrier, Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), Jean Dubuffet and the Paris-based Hans Hartung. In addition to the artist groups "Quadriga", "ZERO", "Gruppe 53" and "ZEN 49", important representatives are the artists Karl Otto Götz, Maria Lassnig, Peter Brüning, Emil Schumacher, Hann Trier, Walter Stöhrer and Fritz Winter.
Kinetic art deals with the medium of movement - based on the principle of kinetics. It was developed in the 1920s by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo or Man Ray, who experimented with three-dimensionality and movement in and through space in their sculptures. The foundations for this mostly come from the technical-mechanical field. In addition to movement, the artworks at times play with optical illusions created through incidence of light and the movement of the viewers around the work. Kinetic art reached its peak in the middle of the 20th century, when Alexander Calder's mobiles and experimental art objects of the "ZERO" group, but also the sculptural works of George Rickey or Jean Tinguely were increasingly exhibited and collected.
Classical Modernism comprises various art and style movements of the first half of the 20th century. Especially across countries, there is a great heterogeneity of the arts, whereby not all artists and works can be clearly categorised. Classical Modernism includes not only the visual arts but also design, architecture and photography. The tremendous wealth of currents and tendencies in Classical Modernism shows similarities and differences and proves how strong the exchange among artists is beyond national borders and stylistic movements. Alongside the artists of Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Futurism, New Objectivity and various other avant-garde movements, painters such as Marc Chagall, Marino Marini, Lovis Corinth, Marcel Duchamp, Egon Schiele, Hannah Höch, Maria Lassnig, Max Ernst, Robert Delaunay and Paul Klee belong to Classical Modernism.
Cubism is a stylistic movement from the early 20th century that was equally characterised by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The primary feature is the geometric division of the picture's content into its individual parts and basic forms, as the name already reveals. The focus on form is accompanied by a reduction of colour, which further enhances the expressiveness of the picture's content. While Analytical Cubism developed in the 1910s with the decomposition of the representation, from 1912 onwards one speaks of Synthetic Cubism, which expresses a Polyfocality, that is, the multi-visuality of the decomposed pictorial content. In addition to those mentioned above, important representatives are Robert Delaunay, André Lhote, Jean Metzinger and Fernand Léger.
Figurative art (also figurative painting) stands in contrast to artistic abstraction, which was established in a process of independence of art in the 20th century. Its main characteristic is the depiction of real pictorial content, i.e. persons, living beings or objects - without, however, falling into stylistic trends of the past. After the Second World War, the "New Figuration" developed. In Germany and internationally, HAP Grieshaber, Horst Antes, Norbert Tadeusz, George Segal and Tom Wesselmann can be mentioned as having turned to New Figuration.
The "Neue Gruppe" was formed in Munich shortly after the Second World War in 1946/47. Artists from the "Neue Secession", whose art was considered "degenerate" by the National Socialists and was banned, joined forces to make a new start. Among them were Max Beckmann, Willi Baumeister, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Lothar Fischer, Erich Heckel, Max Kaus, Horst Antes, Konrad Klapheck, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Max Pechstein and Fritz Winter. After the experiences of the preceding dictatorship, they declared a free, tolerant approach in all areas of the visual arts to be their primary goal. The association still exists today as the "Artists' Association Haus der Kunst Munich" after the "Neue Gruppe", "Münchner Sezession" and the "Neue Münchner Künstlergenossenschaft" jointly founded the "Exhibition Administration Haus der Kunst Munich".
The "Novembergruppe" was founded in Berlin in 1918, shortly after the November Revolution. Until its dissolution in 1933 when the National Socialists seized power, over 170 artists were members of this trend-setting movement. Initiated by Max Pechstein and César Klein, the association brought together artists working in the Expressionist, Futurist and Cubist movements such as Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Alexej von Jawlensky, Willi Baumeister, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Mueller and Christian Rohlfs. This syncretism also asserts itself in the unification of art, music, architecture, theatre and philosophy that the group advocates. Members asked for a say in matters of art policy, such as the acquisition of art for public collections, art policy and the provision of exhibition space.
The avant-garde artists' group "SPUR" was founded in Munich in 1957 on the initiative of Erwin Eisch, Heimrad Prem, Helmut Sturm, HP Zimmer and Lothar Fischer, all of whom studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. One year later they published a manifest containing 21 theses, in which they opposed some tendencies of abstract art and announced a multidimensionality of art. All the artists in the group have stylistically captivating tendencies in terms of colour and space, as well as a lively and mobile brushstroke. The group causes a great stir with the sixth issue of their magazine "SPUR", because of which charges of blasphemy are brought against Dieter Kunzelmann, Helmut Sturm, Heimrad Prem and HP Zimmer. Lothar Fischer is excluded from these charges as he is in Rome at the time of publication. After several trials, the charges are finally dropped. In 1965, the Munich artist groups "SPUR" and "WIR" merged to form the new group "GEFLECHT", which, by 1968, had dispersed.
In 1949, the "Gruppe der Ungegenständlichen" (Group of Non-Figurative Artists) was founded in Munich, consisting of Willi Baumeister, Fritz Winter, Rolf Cavael, Gerhard Fietz, Rupprecht Geiger, Willi Hempel and Brigitte Meier-Denninghoff. A year later, the name changes to "ZEN 49", in reference to Zen Buddhism, which inspires many of their works. The focus on non-objective painting shows a turn towards artistic freedom and openness of interpretation. Abstract art should not only be perceived, but also understood. Together with other artists, especially representatives of Informel, exhibitions are conceived and the international exchange with like-minded people is promoted.
The artist group "ZERO" was founded in 1958 by the artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. In 1961 Günther Uecker joins the group. The artists desire to break through various traditional genres of art. Usage of light as a medium and artistic element is intended to produce a spatial pictorial language, whereby entirely unconventional visual effects are achieved. They experiment with a wide variety of materials: by using illuminants, mirrors and other reflective materials, nails and fire, they create fascinating kinetic and expansive works that, in their interactive dynamics, are intended to entice viewers not only to look but to actively engage with the works themselves. In this way, the static character of traditional works of art is broken. In Germany and internationally, "ZERO" quickly enjoyed a broad audience and many like-minded artists, including Gotthard Graubner, Johannes Gecelli, Hans Haacke, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and Lucio Fontana.