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Modern German Drawings and watercolors make up the first exhibition of the year at the Germanic Museum. Covering a period from 1800 to the present, the display represents a great many different artists and styles. One point is uniform, however, for the Germans almost without exception are unusual draftsmen. The use of light and shadow in works such as the nudes of Georg Kolbe and Lismann brings out solid forms with fine clarity. The sharp delineation of line in etchings, woodcuts, and pen sketches creates lively real results.
German artists are also noted for their humor and ability to ridicule. The series of sketches by Adolph Oberlaender entitled "The Piano's Revenge" is a typical example of Nordic humor and caricature. Savage satirization also has its place here, particularly on social conditions, as in the work, of Georg Crosz.
It is only upon looking at German watercolors that the question of the value of these artists arises. The German contemporary painter seems to delight in broad washes of bright color. It seems that only here does their technique begin to break down. Take Karl Zerbe's "Still Life" for instance. In this picture there are wide paths of color applied with a large brush, and all the interest of the artist is primarily in contrasting and mixing shades. The lemons on the table are lacking in form, and the glass is nothing but an outline of white. The whole has little depth; all is subordinated to color. After seeing this picture, it is amazing to see what a master like Georg Crosz can do with the same methods. In the brutal "Brotherly Love," he achieves wonders with his medium. He employs color to express his emotions, and without the violent reds and contrasting blues, greens, and yellows, the picture would lack its forceful meaning. This war picture has, however, the necessary form in which Zerbe is so deficient. Grosz seems to round out his color scheme and to give real modeling to the figures. It is he who provides the answer to the question as to the value of such painters, for there are few if any artists producing today who have such life, feeling, and meaning.
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