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The Terms Nieuwe Zakelijkheid, Neue Sachlichkeit and Nieuw Realisme in Art Criticism of the Dutch paper De Groene Amsterdammer

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Chapter Summary

Much international research into interpretation and development of the terms Nieuwe Zakelijkheid and Neue Sachlichkeit has been done. The results of this research are well-known: the term is of German origin, it can be found especially at the end of the twenties and in the thirties of the 20th century and the term has been used within various disciplines, such as art- and literary criticism. Besides, all kinds of other terms, like ‘New Realism’, ‘Nouvelle Objectivité’, ‘New Sobriety’ and ‘Functionalism’, turn out to have been used as synonyms. Sometimes the variety of terms differs per discipline. Concepts like ‘Neues Bauen’, ‘International Style’ and ‘Architettura Funzionale’, for example, refer to the same kind of architecture, which is described as Neue Sachlichkeit (Lethen 1970: 8f; Anten 1982: 107f; Rebel 1983; Koopmans 1992: 16f; Toorn 1992; Beekman/Grüttemeier 2009; Fähnders 2009).In this article I will focus on how critics, working in the field of visual arts, dealt with the term and the concept of Nieuwe Zakelijkheid [New Objectivity] in the Dutch newspaper De Groene Amsterdammer, shortly indicated as De Groene, and how they thought of New Objectivity as an artistic phenomenon. After showing the results of the research in how often expressions like Nieuwe Zakelijkheid are used, the views of Albert Plasschaert, a leading art critic, and Paul Bromberg, an expert in the field of applied art, industrial art and interior design, on New Objectivity will be presented. I will show that they both dealt with the term and / or the artistic phenomenon carefully. In Dutch art critic reviewers wondered what the advantage of borrowing a term from Germany could be. With regard to applied art, which was wanted to be considered as a form of New Objectivity, soon the question arose whether the producers were not too tight in their conception of New Objectivity and whether they were not too much fixed on style. Besides, one wondered whether the producers of this type of art were capable of realising their intentions. My analysis will show that reviewers who criticised New Objectivity especially attached great significance to the extent to which a work of art shows the artist's personality as well as to the question whether or not a work of art is original. If there was something to be afraid of, it was the idea that what is called New Objectivity in fact only was something new on the surface. I will state that in this respect the reviewers of applied art took the same position as some critics of literature in the same period which was considered to be a form of New Objectivity.



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