Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt/Main
19 January – 14 April 2019
The exhibition “Frankfurt Modernism” showcases artefacts from Frankfurt during the Weimar Republic, and is the first attempt to comprehensively reappraise this epoch in terms of design history – approaching the claim of that time of designing the city anew both aesthetically and socially.
Although the Weimar Republic lasted about 14 years, if you discount the first years between the end of the First World War and the introduction of the Rentenmark in 1923, on the one hand, and the constantly worsening economic crisis from 1930 onwards, on the other, that leaves just seven years of consolidation and stability. During this time, Modernism manifested itself in Germany beyond “art-isms”, with such developments as new typography and photography, tubular steel furniture and the Weißenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart, for example. At the same time, probably the most influential project of a socially balancing Modernism of the interwar period was taking place, effectively supplemented by the eponymous magazine “Das Neue Frankfurt” [The New Frankfurt] – later “Die Neue Stadt” [The New City], which was successfully complemented by the trade journal “Stein, Holz, Eisen” [Steel, Wood, Iron]. This New Frankfurt (in the 1980s there was a postmodern misunderstanding with the same name) will be the subject of three exhibitions in different venues in Frankfurt in 2019. The first is at the Museum Angewandte Kunst. The task of presenting the product culture of New Frankfurt – a reasonable operation, as not a single comprehensive overview has been devoted to this subject until now – has been undertaken by a large staff, as several people are named as being involved. Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s Frankfurt kitchen and Ferdinand Kramer’s oven, as well as some early lamp designs by Christian Dell or Willi Baumeister’s commercial art are well known, of course. But Franz Schuster’s furniture is far less well known, not to speak of the frankly irritating persistent and ongoing mistakes by the culture press in confusing the graphic artist Hans Leistikow with his relative, the Grunewald painter Walter Leistikow. Given the 600 or so exhibits that have been announced, we should be prepared to see all sorts of things. However, it would be wrong to summarise Frankfurt’s achievements under a single style concept. This would go against the reality of the design and use of colour in phenomena from letterheads to large housing estates, which were based on heterogeneous situations of use and production possibilities, and completely changed the cityscape. In form 282 a detailed discussion about the exhibition will follow after the opening on 18 January 2019 at 7 pm.