Art in any form can and may be beautiful, delightful, soothing to the mind or simply there without ulterior motives. An equally important task of art, however, is to shake things up, to admonish, to accuse and thus to intervene in social processes.
Under the title "Wartime", the exhibition of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart brings together exhibits from its own collection in which artists react directly to the two devastating world wars and the social conditions of the first half of the 20th century. Sequences and portfolio works, which are rarely exhibited as a whole, can be seen as well as self-portraits and other impressive individual sheets.
First and foremost, the Staatsgalerie's complete collection of graphic works by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) is on display, including all four of the artist's graphic series. Her work offers an impressive as well as shattering examination of the themes of "war", "death" and "family".
Max Beckmann (1884-1950) is represented with sheets created during and after the First World War, such as the recently acquired drawings "Nurse and male figure, bent over a sick person" from 1915.
In the etching series "Der Krieg" (The War), published in Berlin in 1924, Otto Dix (1891-1969) depicts the events and consequences of the battles in France and Belgium in unsparing drasticness.
In the exhibition, George Grosz (1893-1959) mainly documents the interwar period, which - due to poverty, hunger, hardship and uprisings - was definitely also "warlike", as the series "The Robbers. Nine lithographs by George Grosz on sentences from Schiller's 'Robbers'" from 1922.
Also on display are works by Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) and Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966), as well as two other series that show the war in all its senselessness and destructiveness: "Die Verdammten" (The Damned) by Otto Herrmann (1899-1995) from Stuttgart, created between 1947 and 1950 after the novel "Stalingrad" by Theodor Plievier, and "DRESDEN 1945" by Wilhelm Rudolph (1889-1982).