The Swimmer of Cologne
The Swimmer of Cologne
Inkjet on watercolour paper
85 x 66 centimeters

The New Objectivity or New Sobriety cultural movement of the 1920's German Weimar Republic held an immediate fascination for me when I first encountered it. As the name suggests, artists associated with it framed society through a lens of objectivity rather than the romanticism of the German Expressionists a decade earlier. The bitter legacy of the First World War and the consequent social upheaval led these artists to favour an incisive look at the volatile culture and politics of their country.

The work they produced was regularly explicit about sexuality, damning of authoritarian politics or straight out oddball, such as Karl Hubbuch's Swimmer of Cologne whose iconography still baffles me. Why pose a squat and inelegant figure in front of an impressive piece of industrial architecture studded with rivets and the beautiful Cologne cathedral in the background?

Karl Hubbuch | Die Schwimmerin von Köln (The Swimmer of Cologne) 1924/25