“The Neue Galerie’s approximately 400 works are arranged densely, salon-style.
The collaged effect is one of immersion and onslaught — a charged, theatrical
and frenetic installation that never lets up.
Greeting you just inside the entrance is Ludwig Meidner’s self-portrait “I
and the City” (1913) — in which Berlin seemingly erupts from and rains down on
Meidner’s head. The painting sets the pace and energy for the exhibition, which
builds like a fever dream. Sharing space here are contemporary reconstructions
of original Dada artworks, including a one-legged tailor’s dummy, puppets and a
papier-mache pig in World War I military garb (the latter dangling from the
ceiling), which crowd the compact room’s center. Filling the walls are
paintings of chaotic Berlin by Beckmann and Grosz, Dada collages by John
Heartfield and Hannah Hoch, and Dada posters by Raoul Hausmann and Kurt
Subsequent packed rooms are devoted to Modern architecture, photography and
other themes. In “The Neue Frau,” we encounter posters, fashion and set design,
jewelry, perfume bottles, paintings, collages and clothing. Schad’s sexually
explicit “Two Girls” (1928) is so objective that it verges on clinical. And
rarely seen works by Hoch further bolster her reputation as a remarkable
collagist — gifts that do not translate into her surreal paintings.
In “Into the Abyss,” artists are tackling political themes that challenge
National Socialism. Stunning, original photomontages of familiar images by
Heartfield — in which, for instance, an X-ray portrays Hitler as a maniacal,
crying baby with a spine made of stacked gold coins — reveal the artist to be
an extraordinary colorist, as well as a master-satirist.”