Thursday, November 30, 2006

Glitter and Doom on Fifth Avenue

"Glitter and Doom, German Portraits from the 1920's" is an exhibition of Weimar Republic era paintings and drawings now on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum. The societal and behavorial chaos that followed World War I is documented. The portraiture displayed is at times bizarre, humorous, provocative, and riveting. Otto Dix dominates the show. His "In Memory of the Glorious Time" shows two grotesquely disfigured WW I veterans dressed in uniforms to commemorate the war. "The Poet Iwar Von Lucken" is a caricature of an eccentric Baltic baron and poet that somewhat fondly captures a recognizable posture. The portrait of "Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann", a psychiatrist, has eyes that are cartoonishly exaggerated, but nevertheless real.

The overall exhibit provides interesting history and for the most part savage caricatures as art. There are some respites from this as in "Sonja" a 1928 work by Christian Schaad that portrays a seated woman in a cafe with a cigarette holder, a pack of Camels on the table, and a champagne bottle and bucket behind her. Her glare is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, unlike most exhibits, there were no postcards of these works. As much of the work displayed is not well known, and some like "Sonja" and "The Poet Iwar Von Lucken" are immediately arresting, postcards would have been a treat. Guess that's just my bridge and tunnel comment.


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