203 // MSN1+MA-P / Cologne progressives
Art As A Weapon: The Cologne Progressives
Franz Seiwert – Working Men
During a lecture about Fritz Kahn, I heard about Franz Wilhelm Seiwert and his rather aesthetically interesting and politically thrilling images. The simplified way of depicting faces and shapes of human beings is rather great and also, his way of defining his political position is what I like about his work. In addition, Seiwert is also dealing with the topic of man and machine in some of his works which was a common topic at this time (as you can see within the ‘Industrial Palace’).
Franz Seiwert – The Peasants’ War
Franz Seiwert was part of the so called “Cologone Progressives”:
Based in the 1920s and 1930s of Cologne, the loosely organized artistic circle rejected the notion that art stand in the service of radical politics. Instead, they sought a new and unique formal language reshaped by class consciousness. The members of the Progressives all saw their primary purpose as developing visual weapons for the political and social struggle of an oppressed working class against the rich and powerful. They sought to express complex political ideas in simple visual terms, exposing not the nature of the capitalist system, but its causes, and suggesting revolutionary solutions. Frans Seiwert, Heinrich Hoerle and Gerd Arntz (already mentionend in entry 122), the principle members of this group were barely in their twenties when the war came to an end, and although they had already taken part in the anti-war movement, their period of major creativity only began with the Weimar years. They were among the most radical of the politically active artists of the time. The end of the Cologne Progressives coincided with the end of the Weimar Republic. During the Nazi period their art was declared “degenerate.”
Franz Seiwert – The factory
Another example of this artistic group is the image “Monument to the Unknown Prosthesis” by Heinrich Hoerle – showing that the relation of man and machine was not only progressive in a positive way, but that there were also destructive consequences of the new (war) techniques causing deformed and terrible results.