Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919–1933
23 June – 15 October 2017
The exhibition showcases portraits of the ordinary people who were living in Germany during the turbulent interwar years.
Tate Liverpool unites two previously separate exhibitions to bring together the work of painter Otto Dix and photographer August Sander for the very first time.
Featuring more than 300 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, the display is focused on a key moment in Germany’s history: the years between the First and Second World Wars, when democratic rule was briefly established. A time of political and economic upheaval, artists working during this period were concerned with representing the radical extremes of their society – from the flourishing cabaret culture to the intense poverty and civilian rebellions.
Dix was living in Düsseldorf between 1922 and 1925, where he gained a reputation as one of the leading New Objectivity painters. The group were highly experimental in their approach, seeking to find alternative styles of artistic representation that would best represent the instability of the world around them.
Dix's paintings are vitriolic reflections on German society. He represents both the glamour and the misery of the Weimar republic; for example, his portrait of the celebrity photographer Hugo Erfurth is contrasted by etchings Dix made to represent his personal experiences of fighting in the Great War.
Sander's images also take in a cross-section of society. In 1910 he began a major photographic project – People of the Twentieth Century – an ambitious task that he continued to work on for more than 40 years. By the time it was finished he had shot more than 600 images, which he categorised into ‘types’: artists, musicians, circus workers, farmers and (by the 1930s) Nazi officers.
More than 140 of these photographs (now part of the Artist Rooms collection) are on display, creating a large-scale timeline of Weimar Germany.