Gianluca Costantini

Köln progressiv

Among the best that political art has ever produced are the paintings, woodcuts and sculptures of the “Cologne Progressives”. Led by Heinrich Hoerle and Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, the group existed from 1920 to 1933, when Seiwert died and the Nazis took over Germany. Jankel Adler, Gerd Arntz, Otto Freundlich and many other artists were associated with the group.

The common concept was to document the people and social structures of their time in images.

Despite the growing artistic and political importance of photography during the interwar period, progressives tended to stick to more traditional artistic mediums such as oil paintings and woodcuts. Seiwert and Hoerle used strong colours, which they applied flatly in their heavily textured paintings. The graphic artist of the group, Gerd Arntz, also painted the printing blocks for his woodcuts to transform them into independent works of art. All three artists attempted to establish a new relationship between the viewer and the work of art.

While the Cologne progressives were open to the impulses of their time from France, Holland and the young Soviet Union, they were critical of other currents in Germany, especially the New Objectivity. His contribution to the art of the time remains an important counter-model for art in the service of radical politics.

VoyagerDansEurope / Germany