Picturing the Masses: Germany, 1900–1938

Ahmanson Building, Level 2
April 14, 2018–August 26, 2018
Picturing Masses Exhibition Image

Mass movements are a modern phenomenon and became a popular subject of early 20th-century German art, a time of political revolutions, popular entertainments, proletarian workers, and mobilized citizen armies. Soldiers marching to the front during World War I, political forces activated by the energy of the German Revolution, and later, the spectacle of Nazi rallies were all mass movements, marshalled for different ends. The masses also came together for pleasure to enjoy popular entertainments such as the cinema, or were mobilized for industrial labor.

The masses are both plural and singular. The concept of masses suggests countless individuals merging into a single, homogeneous body. As a subject of art, masses are therefore often depicted using formal strategies of abstraction, such as repetition and abbreviation, to suggest the countless, deindividualized bodies that constitute the mass.

Drawn from the collections of LACMA’s Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, Prints and Drawings, and Photography, this exhibition presents different depictions of masses, from political movements to fighting forces to visualizations of mass production and the assembly line.


This installation was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Image: Richard Seewald, Revolution, 1913, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, © Fondazione Richard e Uli Seewald, Ascona, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA