Group Cologne Progressives

The group of Cologne Progressives or Group of Progressive Cologners was a loose union of artists, which emerged in the period between 1920 and 1933. The key figures in this avant-garde movement were Gerd Arntz (1900-88), Heinrich Hoerle (1895-1936) and Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (1894-1933). Other less central artists included Gottfried Brockmann, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Otto Freundlich, Hannes M. Flach, Martha Hegemann, Angelika Hoerle and Anton Räderscheidt. In accordance with their desire to be political artists, the work of the Cologne Progressives’ primarily focused on topics such as revolution, social and political happenings, and man and his position in society. Subjects were depicted as schematic types, rather than individuals, frequently as factory workers or farmers. In addition to painting, the artists favoured graphic works, and thus they were able to reach a wide audience, which suited their socio-political demands.
Their paintings and drawings were characterised by a geometric, rather than realist style. Paintings were dominated by strict horizontal and vertical division, and geometric shapes. Colourful surfaces were joined to schematically reduced motifs. The formal reduction of Gerd Arntz’s woodcuts contained a particularly power visual language, which had a strong influence on artists such as Gottfried Brockmann. The group was influenced by Constructivism and Neue Sachlichkeit, as well as the work of László Moholy-Nagy,Fernand Léger and Theo van Doesburg.