Walter Navratil

Filth and trash

Dirt and trash is a good description of disreputable behaviour in an almost forgotten era. The Museum der Moderne Salzburg is dedicating an exhibition to this theme this summer.

George Grosz
George Grosz: Kraft und Anmut 1922. Aus Ecce Homo. Foto: Rainer Iglar

Major changes marked the turn from the 19th to the 20th century: the emergence of women’s emancipation efforts, the discovery of youth as a socially relevant group and, as a consequence, the fight against “filth and trash” in the popular media.

The so-called penny dreadfuls, which were only allowed to be sold under the counter in shops, were called “trash” and (supposedly) pornographic. The contents of these cheap booklets revolve around crime and vice, horror figures, monsters and demons – motifs that can also be found in the visual arts.

George Grosz: Ah gaudy world, you blessed cabinet of abnormalities. 1916 from Ecce Homo. Photo: Rainer Iglar

In 1913, Oskar Kokoschka illustrated The Great Wall of China, a story by Karl Kraus based on a true crime. Käthe Kollwitz directed her gaze to the female victims. In addition to well-known names, the collection exhibition at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg offers the opportunity for new discoveries or rediscoveries, for example by Walter Navratil, who dedicated a painting cycle of the same name to the notorious gangster boss Al Capone.

Until 11.09, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg is showing examples of how lifestyles formerly described as foul and gutter literature shaped everyday life. Absurd by today’s standards.

Schmutz und Schund Museum der Moderne Salzburg. 11.06. until 4.09.2022

Published 15. June 2022Updated 8. August 2022
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