Caught in the crossfire

The Novembergruppe and the press

The newspapers made mincemeat of the first exhibitions by the Novembergruppe. The reviewer for the Berliner Tageblatt thought he was in a “madhouse” when he visited the Novembergruppe section at the Berlin Art Exhibition in 1919. The Berliner Volkszeitung found the Expressionist-inspired paintings bewildering: “The walls scream with colours, tapeworms squirm, there are pictures here which are nothing but a conglomeration of lines, colours and indecipherability.” There was mockery and incomprehension from ordinary visitors too.

The outrage provoked by the art occasionally culminated in physical attacks on some of the works.
In 1920 the Novembergruppe had to endure more of these caustic jibes. Critics referred to the Dada collages and material assemblies in this annual display as “burps and farts in frames” and “dunghill art”. But the association was undeterred by such withering remarks. In the next few years its steadfast commitment to the avant-garde began to pay off. Modern art and radical new techniques became increasingly acceptable to the general public.

Read more stories about the Novembergruppe here.

 

Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts

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