At 11:00 am on the 11.11.1918, Germany admitted defeat in the First World War and signed an armistice. A new democracy born out of violent revolution. Political, social and economic chaos overtook the defeated nation.
Barely weeks after the surrender, a collective of artists, architects and designers banded together as the ‘November Group’ (‘Novembergruppe’). Formed, the Berlin-based group intended to reflect the new era, reflecting a power base found in an expanded working class, as industrialization and urban infrastructure boomed. This was the start of an era which has gone down in history as the most fertile, productive and creative decade in 20th century German history – the Weimar Republic. It’s the era that exploded with new ideas and new directions in art and launched successive avant-garde waves of artistic exploration over the ensuing century, including Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), Berlin-DADA, Bauhaus, Fotomontage, ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate art), Industrial Design, FLUXUS, Zero, Gesamtkunstwerk, Junge Wilde, Gruppe SPUR, School of Leipzig …
What is ‘German Cool’? Is it a pervasive rebellion against repression, oppression and political persecution? An ongoing evolution of cultural and ideological innovation? Disdain for authority, orthodoxy and tradition? Or simply, an ineffable, indefinable quality, which imbues some of the greatest European art of the 20th century? Whatever constitutes this mercurial asset, it’s clearly possessed in abundance by the artists featured in the SPM group exhibition ‘German Cool’, an exploration of art works created in Germany, sourced from Ramin Salsali’s collection.
From Daniel Richter to Jonathan Meese, Max Scheler to Hans-Pierre Schumann, Zhivago Duncan to Anahita Razmi, Kiddy Citny to Christian Awe – the artists featured in ‘German Cool’ span decades of creativity, inspiration and genius. They consistently question and challenge themselves and their audiences. They reflect the events of a century of turmoil – defeat, guilt, division, repression and reunification.
GERMAN COOL is my personal tribute to the diversity and achievements of 20th century art in Germany, my second home and a place which continues to inspire me.