Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit was published by the Neue Galerie at the same time that it provided the late artist with his first one-man exhibit in the U.S. in 2003.
There's no doubt that Schad was in fact a major artist. His involvement with both the Dada and the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movements in the 1920's and 1930's put him in the vanguard of the German art world that flourished during the Weimar period. If the artist is largely overlooked today, it has much to do with the rise of Nazism in his native country. The irony here, though, is that Schad's work was actually recognized and lauded by the Nazis. While most of his modernist contemporaries - including Dix, Grosz and Beckmann - involved in the Neue Sachlichkeit school, were excoriated at the 1937 Degenerate Art Exhibition, Schad was unaccountably given a place of honor at the officially sanctioned Great German Art Exhibition held at the same time.
In addition to the Neue Sachlichkeit paintings for which he is best known, Schad worked in a number of different media connected to various European art movements. He began first with woodcuts that are clearly linked to the Expressionist school and are somewhat reminiscent of Kirchner's carvings from roughly the same period. Like Kirchner, Schad also fled Germany at the outbreak of World War I on a false medical deferment and relocated to Switzerland. Here he met the writer Walter Serner who in turn introduced him to leading figures of the Dadaist movement, most notably Tristan Tzara. It was at this time that Schad began to produce his photograms and thus anticipated the later work of Man Ray. Tzara later renamed Schad's photograms as "Schadographs" under which name, unknown to Schad, they were shown at a 1936 Dadaist group exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Once the war ended, Schad traveled to Italy where he was exposed to the influence of Futurism and where he married. While in Italy, Schad threw off his remaining Dadaist and Cubist influences and in 1925 painted a portrait of Pope Pius XI that clearly prefigured his later realist work. It was on his return to Germany that Schad then created the paintings for which he is best known. These provide a fascinating look into the decadent lifestyle that existed in Germany in the postwar period, the fabled milieu that Isherwood later described so well in The Berlin Stories.
The volume published by the Neue Galerie is the only monograph of Schad's work currently in print. In addition to excellent full page reproductions of the artist's most important work, the book contains a number of informative and well written essays. There is a chronology of Schad's life as well as a section entitled Picture Captions, written in 1976 - 1977, in which the artist provides detailed background information for a number of his artworks. These give the reader a fascinating glimpse into Schad's creative process.