Canvas :: The Mad Square @ AGNSW

August 29th 2011

The term Modern Art is daunting. Daunting because of the complex movements of which it entails and daunting because modern works are often very difficult to understand. Throw the word German in the mix and that’s pretty much the icing on the cake right there. The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ latest blockbuster however, The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art 1920-37 is an exhibition that helps demystify the complexities that are so often associated with the Modern genre. And a sterling job at that it does.

Featuring leading artists, and artists whose name will ring a bell for even the most unseasoned gallery goers such as El Lissitsky, Otto Dix and Fritz Lang, the exhibition provides a comprehensive scaffolding from which to begin to understand the most avant-garde movements of the era. In order to chart the most significant developments in Germany in terms of art, society and politics, The Mad Square is systematically broken down into eight different sections representative of Expressionism in Berlin, World War I and the Revolution, Dada, Bauhaus, Constructivism, the Metropolis, New Objectivity and Power and Degenerate Art.

What this exhibition does marvellously is offer a sound taste of what was coming from Germany’s forerunning artists with a tight selection of paintings, drawings, sculpture, film, objects and architecture in order to underscore the driving force behind German Modernism – that is a favour for satire, observation and emotion. Moving through the exhibition, we can’t help but get a better hold of how Germany responded to a radical transformation of modern society, from an imperial system to a country playing host to many a foreword thinker in a new age of democracy and technological change.

What: The Mad Square

Where: Art Gallery of New South Wales

When: Until 6 November 2011

How much: $20/$15

Curator Dr Jacqueline Strecker’s video introduction courtesy of the AGNSW website.


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