Neue Sachlichkeit in Architecture By Poppelreuter, Tanja
The term Neue Sachlichkeit was coined by Gustav Hartlaub with his exhibition: ‘Neue Sachlichkeit. Deutsche Malerei seit dem Expressionismus’ (New Objectivity. German Painting Since Expressionism) at the Kunsthalle Mannheim in 1925 and is now used to describe a movement during the politically, socially, and economically unstable years of the Weimar Republic in Germany (1919–1933) that includes painting, photography, design, and architecture (Rewald, 2006).
In architecture the term mainly relates to Neues Bauen (New Building) and avant-garde currents of rationalist and functionalist Modernism that existed alongside conservative counterparts and Expressionism. Among its contributors in Germany were Walter Gropius, Otto Haesler, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Ernst May, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Martin Wagner. Architecture and design was created in order to fulfill objective functions and not along the lines of personal taste, preexisting historical, national, or regional styles. The Sache–the object, subject matter–was scrutinized in order to fulfill its function and serve its user best as possible. The way in which this was approached was sachlich–objectively and factually–without emotional attachment to ways in which the object was designed or used previously. Neue Sachlichkeit therefore was an approach to design pursuing, but not always achieving, practicality, suitability, and objectivity by setting aside all matters considered by its practitioners as irrelevant (Schwartz, 1998 and Schmalenbach, 1940).