Sunday, May 15, 2011

Research: Degenerate Art

Degenerate art  Some Interesting things I've learned today from Wikipedia (wildly truncated!)

By 1937, the concept of degeneracy was firmly entrenched in Nazi policy. On June 30 of that year Goebbels put Adolf Ziegler in charge of a six-man commission authorized to confiscate from museums and art collections throughout the Reich, any remaining art deemed modern, degenerate, or subversive. These works were then to be presented to the public in an exhibit intended to incite further revulsion against the "perverse Jewish spirit" penetrating German culture. Over 5,000 works were seized.

The confiscated art was shown in degenerate art exhibits with nazi slogans written on the themed room walls. Prices museums had paid for the pieces were displayed (though the prices were greatly exaggerated). The exhibit was designed to promote the idea that modernism was a conspiracy by people who hated German decency.   (Read more after the jump!)

The first sculpture in the 1937 exhibit was an oversized, theatrical portrait of Jesus, which purposely intimidated viewers as they literally bumped into it in order to enter. The rooms were deliberately chaotic and overfilled. 
The first three rooms were grouped thematically. The first room contained works considered demeaning of religion; the second featured works by Jewish artists in particular; the third contained works deemed insulting to the women, soldiers and farmers of Germany.

The fate of the artists and their work

Avant-garde German artists were now branded both enemies of the state and a threat to German culture. Many went into exileMax Ernst emigrated to America with the assistance of Peggy Guggenheim.  Paul Klee spent his years in exile in Switzerland, yet was unable to obtain Swiss citizenship because of his status as a degenerate artist.
A large amount of 'degenerate art' by PicassoDalí, Ernst, Klee, Léger and Miró was destroyed in a bonfire on the night of July 27, 1942 in the gardens of the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris.[36]

A few months ago I watched this amazing documentary about the plunder of Europe's art by the nazis. It's called "The Rape of Europa" and it is such an amazing film. View the trailer below, and then Netflix it! 

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