Lesson plans for ages 15-18 in Art: Repatriation and Graphic Communication
Teaching Tools, 18 April 2007
LESSON 1: The state of art in Germany between the world wars
This unit of lessons could be taught after the students have covered the art movements of the early 20th century, Expressionism, Surrealism and Dadaism. If cross-disciplinary collaboration exists in your school, these lessons could coincide with history lessons dealing with World War I and its aftermath.
Prepare sufficient copies of a brief, straightforward account of German society during and after World War I, such as "Germany: World War I: The Weimar Republic", World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago & London, World Book, annual). You could choose an appropriate chapter from a History textbook. Other references are supplied in the unit plan.
Ask the students to read through the material. After the reading, to check their understanding, ask the students questions such as the following:
How do World War I casualty rates compare with the number of fallen soldiers in previous wars? What contributed to the enormously high casualties? What other damage and destruction did the war bring about? What were the economic consequences suffered by all the participating countries? What happened to the governments of the participating countries? Which countries became republics? What happened to the old empires? What type of social changes were brought about by World War I?
What are some ways in which people can express their criticism or dissatisfaction with society? (Possible answers could include protest marches, graffiti, letters to newspaper editors, taking out advertisements, songs, but also serious works of art: paintings, sculpture, photographs – and literature: novels, drama, poetry, non-fiction.) Under what circumstances might a government be justified in censoring or prohibiting such critical expression? Should works of art have a special status, exempting them from censorship or prohibition? What moral and legal problems might such a special status pose?
You may wish to come back to these questions at the end of the unit of work. One or other of them may be a suitable essay topic for evaluation purposes.