Weimar Surfaces

Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany

JANET WARD
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Pages: 374
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pprq4
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  • Book Info
    Weimar Surfaces
    Book Description:

    Germany of the 1920s offers a stunning moment in modernity, a time when surface values first became determinants of taste, activity, and occupation: modernity was still modern, spectacle was still spectacular. Janet Ward's luminous study revisits Weimar Germany via the lens of metropolitan visual culture, analyzing the power that 1920s Germany holds for today's visual codes of consumerism.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92473-4
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Modern Surface and Postmodern Simulation: A Retrospective Retrieval
    (pp. 1-44)

    It is in our time that the Enlightenment project has reached its ultimate implosion. In visual terms, the twentieth century of the western hemisphere will be remembered as the century in which content yielded to form, text to image, depth to façade, andSeintoSchein.For over a hundred years, mass cultural phenomena have been growing in importance, taking over from elite structures of cultural expression to become sites where real power resides, and dominating ever more surely our social imaginary. As reflections of the processes of capitalist industrialization in forms clad for popular consumption, these manifestations are literal...

  5. 1 Functionalist Façades: The Reformation of Weimar Architecture
    (pp. 45-91)

    “No more façade,” announced the architectural critic Adolf Behne in 1925.¹ Weimar Germans evidently agreed, albeit with a sense of the absurdity that this proclamation entailed: in 1929, for example, a cartoon in theBerliner Illustrirte Zeitungparodied the current spate of façade-renewal on buildings in the German metropolis with before-and-after mug shots of a man in front of a building (fig. 6). The overblown Wilhelmine ornamentation on the building’s façade, and in the man’s own outer appearance, is shown liberated, streamlined, rejuvenated, technologized—a makeover that projects efficiency and dynamism: in short, both man and building have undergone a...

  6. 2 Electric Stimulations: The Shock of the New Objectivity in Weimar Advertising
    (pp. 92-141)

    The advertising realm of the Weimar Republic offers us today a remarkable visual record of the reenchantment of modernity via apparently rational means. It is a particularly apposite example of the relentless functioning of surface culture that was so characteristic of German modernity in its commercial, urban setting. This chapter focuses on the shocks targeted at the psyche of the modern city-dweller by the new stimulants employed in Weimar advertising, and on the strategies involved in the displacement of the spectator’s literal and psychological perception—a necessary process for any effective advertisement.

    Weimar modernity’s term for advertising,Reklame,was adopted...

  7. 3 Into the Mouth of the Moloch: Weimar Surface Culture Goes to the Movies
    (pp. 142-190)

    The great age of German silent film, coinciding as it did with the emergence of New Objectivity out of the inverted spirit of expressionism, was experienced as an architectural event. In this conscious architecturalization of film, the 1920s German film industry excelled more than any other national cinema of any era; nowhere was the façadism of modern surface culture so excessively constituted in entertainment form. Weimar cinema was a technological façade that projected moving three-dimensional images about modernity to audiences sitting before a two-dimensional screen—just as the vision of city life shown to the protagonist of Karl Grune’s 1924...

  8. 4. The Display Window: Designs and Desires of Weimar Consumerism
    (pp. 191-240)

    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”¹ It has been a Platonic-monotheistic article of faith that our material lives are spent in the realm of mediated shadows, removed from beholding the incorporeal immediacy of essential truth.² This structure of epistemological dispossession clearly originates in an age Before Consumerism. For industrial modernity transformed human perception; the growth of capitalism has been predicated on creating at least the promise of a definitive self-empowerment for the consumer, who simply has to...

  9. APPENDIX: Selected Weimar Periodicals and Newspapers
    (pp. 241-244)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 245-320)
  11. Illustration Sources
    (pp. 321-324)
  12. Index
    (pp. 325-358)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-359)