Exhibition Of Degenerate Art Munich Essay

2431 words - 10 pages

EXHIBITION OF DEGENERATE ART, MUNICH 1937"We shall discover and encourage the artists who are able to impress upon the State of the German people the cultural stamp of the Germanic race . . . in their origin and in the picture which they present they are the expressions of the soul and the ideals of the community." (Hitler, Party Day speech, 1935)On the day of the German Arts Festival in 1937, Hitler opened a dual exhibition to commemorate the House of German Art, one of Nazi approved art call the Great German Art Exhibition and another of Degenerate Art. The exhibitions were organized by the Reich Propaganda Directorate, headed by Joseph Goebbels. Fritz Kaiser was responsible for the contents of the catalogue and was published by the Nazis. Adolf Zeigler was the curator. The Nazis viewed both exhibitions as important propaganda tools."Exhibitions are constructed to represent a point of view to audiences". Nazi approved artwork was "racially conscious" that was "within the limits prescribed not by any artistic idea, but by the political idea" - Goebbels. The Great German Art Exhibition therefore represented Nazi ideals such as the Aryan male body, healthy and beautiful, proud and heroic, participating in sport or work (the Olympic games had recently been held in Berlin) and the female as the lovely Nordic superwoman, a mother to birth and teach a generation for work and battle. Another popular theme was the German landscape of which Hitler was very fond of, and portraits of officials. The paintings were usually Renaissance or Baroque styles such as the Heinrich Knirr's Portrait of the Fuhrer showing Hitler posed in a powerful but stable position. The venue was spacious and modern with pure white walls and marble floors. Some artists and critics however, found contemporary German art empty and wooden. After some magazines complained about the dullness of German art, Goebbels banned the publishing of art criticism.In great contrast was the Degenerate Exhibition or 'Entarte Kunst' which held 650 works by modernist artists of the day. The word Degenerate comes from the Latin "de" meaning from and "genus" meaning race or kind. In this case, it is used as an adjective to describe a lowering of standard from a higher state or condition, a decline in physical, mental or moral qualities as related to race, kind or former self; primarily baseness in art and times. The catalogue was produced so that the viewer would interpret the artworks in a way intended by the Nazis. The curator arranged the art to show how it supposedly offended German values, the venue was dirty and cramped, the arrangement disorganized and cluttered. Critics and historians were paid to write favourable critiques of the Great Exhibition and criticize the Degenerate Exhibition. To enrage people that taxpayers dollars had been wasted in buying these pieces, they put the purchase price next to each one. To make it clear that the exhibit was offensive, it opened to adults only. The effect...

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