1/08/2012

"Entartete Kunst"

A watercolor painting by A. Hitler
     Yesterday I read a children's book by E.L. Konigsburg called The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World . As far as books go, it was not particularly impressive or interesting (despite the great title). However, I did learn some very odd facts about art history...

     When Adolf Hitler was young, he tried to gain admittance to the Vienna Art Academy, and was refused, not once but twice. Some people say it was because his art was uncreative, and others say that he couldn't draw or paint the human form. He didn't have any type of certificate from school, because he had dropped out, and the Vienna Art Academy did not even offer him a chance to take the formal exam. Apparently, he later tried to make a living by selling small paintings and watercolor postcards.

     Later on, when Hitler came to power, he seized thousands of paintings and works of art. Anything that was "modern art".. Cubism, Fauvism etc. was seized; and so was anything painted or created by Jews, homosexuals, or other undesirables. Matisse, Picasso, and van Gogh were all included as painters of  "degenerate art".

The program for the degenerate art exhibition.
     Joseph Goebbels (the Nazi propaganda minister) and Adolf Hitler launched a campaign against modern art, and set up an exhibition (using the "degenerate" art they had seized) labeled "Entartete Kunst"(which simply means "degenerate art"). The exhibition was meant to absolutely disgust the German people, and the paintings were crammed on the wall in disorderly, unattractive arrangements. Three million people visited the exhibit.

    I am not at all surprised by the number of paintings that Hitler stole, but I am amazed that he would put it on display. Were the three million visitors truly disgusted? Did any of them secretly wonder why the modern art was "degenerate"? Were any of them dismayed when they found that they could not hate modern art? Did they harbor it like a guilty secret, and feel appalled at their own lack of patriotism?
degenerate art display
     Don't take the facts from me... I only read it in a children's book and researched it on Wikipedia for fifteen minutes. I even doubt some of the accuracy myself. :) But all the same, it is very odd, and poses a lot of weird questions. What would have happened to the world if Hitler went to art school?







2 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I often wonder that too, would he still have done so much hard if he had simply been admitted to the art school? Crazy thought.
    Btw, I LOVE your new header!

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  2. Thanks! I know people say you can't live life asking "what if" but sometimes it is a very interesting question...

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