Written in clear prose, Wayne Andersen's expansive text accounts for all of modern Germany's major artists -- the Impressionists Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, the Expressionists Edvard Munch, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel, and Max Pechstein, the post-World War I George Grosz, Otto Dix, and Rudolf Schlichter, and the less classifiable Max Beckmann, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Kathe Kollwitz, Oskar Kokoschka, and Frans Marc. Theatre and cabaret life are treated in equal measure to the visual arts, with rich coverage of Ibsen's Ghosts, Brecht's The Jungle of Cities, and the prototype of modern filmmaking, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Andersen assigns his challenging lines of attack to radical issues that established in Germany the essential first wave of twentieth-century avant-garde art and culture. Insisting that German art is masculine and prone to violence, he formulates a compelling explanation for how artists and defensive art critics convert violence into art as a pretence to mirroring society. He associates Lustmord (sex-murder) imagery in German art, theatre, and cabaret entertainment with the sexuality of war.
He sees Germania's primal barbarism in German painting infused with the rise of Germany's Nacktkultur (nudist cults). A desensitising nakedness replaces sublimated nudity. The innocent nakedness of youth offers an opportunity for cultural renewal and a symbol of physical power.
Wayne Andersen is the author of twelve books, including "Manet: The Picnic and the Prostitute," and "Cezanne and the Eternal Feminine." His first book, "Gauguin's Paradise Lost" was a "New York Times" "Book of the Times." His recent book, "The Youth of Cezanne and Zola: Art and Literature in Paris," was acclaimed by the "Los Angeles Times Book Review" as "The Best of the Best in non-fiction" published in 2003.