Egg Tempera on Wood 1930
the artist portrayed a battle that took place ten years
earlier in the Ruhr industrial area between radical workers
and the regular army and police. The workers had been on
strike and were suffering terrible repression - they eventually
turned to arms for self defense.
soon broke out with the authorities and escalated to civil
war proportions. The workers were defeated by the army and
police only after hundreds of workers had been killed. Gilles'
painting reveals a little known truth, that many Germans
resisted the rise of the right, and the years leading up
to Hitler's rule were ones of intense conflict.
was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD) and during
the Nazi era was prohibited from painting or exhibiting
his work publicly. Though an obscure and little known artist
today, Gilles was a master of the difficult medium of egg
tempera. His dynamic and realistic Ruhr Struggle was such
a painting done on wood.
the older Expressionist groups associated with the November
revolution began to dissipate in the late 20's, a new school
of Expressionism came to the forefront, Neue Sachlichkeit
(New Objectivity). Gilles
was considered part of this new school of
Expressionism, which put more emphasis realism.