This course surveys German art and architecture from the rise of modernism around 1900 to the present after postmodernism. It aims to study the individual works closely and interpret them critically by analyzing their formal structure, style, technique, iconography, etc., to consider the concerns of the artists who created them and to place the works within their wider historical, political, economic, social, and cultural backgrounds as well as within the international development of the visual arts in Europe and—in the second half of the 20th century—the U.S. Topics include Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, New Objectivity, Bauhaus, art and architecture in Nazi Germany, art and architecture in the two German states—the GDR and FRG (1945-1989)—and the reflection on the German past, the reshaping of Berlin as the restored capital of Germany after 1989, and Pluralism in postmodern German art.
An essential approach of the course is to work not only with slides and textual sources in class, but also with the original works during several field trip visits to museums and walking tours to architectural sites. Thus the specific material qualities of the artworks discussed and the urban context of the individual buildings are experienced firsthand. This can help students to understand the thinking and artistic procedure of the artists and architects in their time.