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Analytical Essay on German Youth Organizations

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Art from the expressionist movement would often propose to depict context with compelling portrayals of scenes and people at the forefront of the work. The turn of the Century in Europe saw new technologies and immense urbanisation efforts, which then played homage to the individual artist's world view. (ref 4) The modernisation of Germany resulted in less opportunities for freedom, and the 19th Century schools were being run with a military-style of discipline - more so than anywhere else within Europe. The rigidness imposed upon the youth of Germany resulted in individual attitudes and freedom of expressing the personal style of dress determined by the army which was familiarly known as “the school of nations”.

Spreading rapidly throughout Germany were urban youths, peaking in popularity between 1900-1914 (ref12) they were referring to themselves as “Wonder-Vogel” and were growing in ever-increasing numbers. They were not conservative about expressing themselves, often adopting fashionable philosophies which led them to attain a Simple Life, often devoting their spare time to rambling in nature, singing, theatricals and photography. This group of youths also cared greatly for the environment and frequently slept in tents, favouring fires over electricity as a protest against the modernisation of Germany. (ref book (youth movement notes) this movement began in the 1890s before the rise of the Nazi party and expressionist art but was the beginning of a rebellion against the hypocrisy found within politics and the rigid social class system of Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany, which seemingly was based entirely on birth and wealth. 1914 was the beginning of the outbreak of World War I and many of the German Youths were caught up within the war, often enthusiastically joining the battlefield hoping for a fulfilling and Nobel experience but in reality, they died by the millions. By 1918 Germany was defeated and plunged into political and social Chaos. (ref 12) This devastation among the people of Germany was then intensified at the end of the 1920s as Germany delved into an economic crisis which resulted in many of the German youths being forced into unemployment. (ref,book) The Unemployment of the youth resulted in voluntary work to develop a sense of purpose among the homeless masses, with voluntary work camps complemented by a wide range of artistic and educational activities often forming an appreciation of the arts during a difficult time within their lives. (pg 88)

Multitudes of new political and religious-oriented young people began to emerge all over Germany which included the young socialists, Democrats, and Conservatives, with many of the groups adopting military-style uniforms, which was a huge shift from the casual clothing worn pre-war. (ref 12) Fascism was evident in many members of the German youth organisations but the group “Wander Vogel” rejected the National Socialist Party and Hitler Youth. 1926 saw youth organisations unite as one creating a group named ‘Deutsche Freischar’ which was aiming to become a community of the people. (page??) One of the great leaders during pre-1933 youth movements was Eberhard Kobel, a Swabian illustrator and designer of books. He influenced the young people of the 1930s by way of forming a flamboyant and adventurous clothing style and haircut, Influencing much more than the Hitler youth approved and such activities would be punished.

Emerging during the political movement and before the rise of World War, I was Die Brücke and Bleu Reiter, an influential Expressionist art group founded in 1905 and based in Dresden. They set out to communicate radical social views through bold and expressive paintings. The founders of this group were Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) and Ernest Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). Die Brucke and Bleu Reiter created a shift within the art world. They afflicted a Ernst Ludwig Kirchner ‘Self Portrait’ 1925-26 discontented view of art to German society by creating paintings and sculptures that were intimate and, in some instances, shocking to the viewer which is very similar to the fauvists and the paintings by Henri Mattisse. How did this bleak perspective of expressionist paintings then go on to form an appreciation of the arts?

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The artist at the forefront of the group Die Brucke was Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, aiming to consciously forge modern art in an international context in a response to living within a colonial Germany at the time. This group was primarily influenced by primitive painting with bold outlines and bright colour palette, which was one of the main characteristics of the pieces created within this movement. (The Art Story, 2019) The name Brücke (“bridge”) reflects these artists’ youthful eagerness to cross into a new future. Die Brucke’s art was something that the people of Germany had not yet seen before as it contained sexual undertones and used a drawing technique that could only be described as “crude”. A painting created by the founder of Die Brucke, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner, named “Reclining Nude in Front of a Mirror” displays the use of bold colours and strong lines and creates an atmospheric image, much similar to the work of the Fauvists. (1909-1910).

Ernest Ludwig Kirchner concentrated on nudes and portraits during his early years and progressed onto creating works centred around nudes moving freely in nature, as opposed to being constrained to the studio. (ref 9) Primitivism was a prominent influence among Kirchner’s work, but this style of painting had come to become an issue, causing debates about modernist art among people within Germany (pg?) This style of painting was a direct attack on materialism and the lost authenticity and unity between art and society which emerged as a direct result of Industrialism. Kirchner was

‘Reclining Nude in Front of a Mirror’ 1909-1910 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner also influenced by the art movement Jugendstil, an artistic style that arose within Germany mid-1890s. The name was born from the Munich Magazine Die Jugend, often containing Art Nouveau prints. (ref13)

During this time Jugendstil art in Germany revolutionised modern design. The term Jugendstil, meaning 'Young Style,' was derived from the magazine Die Jugend, the style primarily consisted of floral motifs, arabesques, and organically inspired lines and eventually progressed toward abstraction and functionalism. Importantly, it emphasised workshops, where groups of designers worked with industrialists for mass production to disseminate products. This would then become an important benchmark for Expressionists in Germany and Austria who were creating new perceptions of the modern subject and urban centres as well as later Bauhaus experiments in combining fine and applied arts. (ref 30)

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