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The Third Reich And Entartete Künst

1275 words - 5 pages

“As for the degenerate artists, I forbid them to force their so-called experience upon the public. If they do see fields blue, they are deranged, and should go to an asylum. If they only pretend to see them blue, they are criminals, and should go to prison. I'll purge the nation of them.”
-Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler's ascension to the position of Chancellor of the ailing Wiemar Republic in 1933 started the National Socialist (Nazi) regime. Shortly before the beginning of World War II, Germany witnessed vast changes while under the new dictatorial government, such as the censorship of art. While in power, Hitler established the Reich Chamber of Visual Art, whose sole responsibility was to determine if artwork was worthy to appear in national exhibitions. Paintings and sculptures that were not approved by the government were labeled as entartete künst (degenerate art). The strict regulations towards artwork affected artists across the Germany in various ways, resulting in some artists being imprisoned while others became prosperous. (Shirer, n.pag.)
Because of the air raids across Europe, “not much is known about the art of the Third Reich”. Furthermore, “it is assumed that the artwork is so terrible that is not worthy of receiving the attention of art historians”(Adam 7,8). The Nazi art remnants of war-torn Europe were hidden from public up into the late 1990's . After the invasion of Berlin, some of it was taken by the Allied Forces and locked away while most of the remaining paintings and sculptures were hidden from the German people. The artwork was considered, “an embarrassment to the German government”. While in power, Hitler, “declared that... Cubists, Futurists, Dadaists, and Surrealists... were criminals and insane and... belonged in jail or mental hospitals”. Furthermore, all artwork created by communists, Jews, and the like were considered degenerate as well. As a result of Hitler's feelings towards non-traditional art, artists were presented with criteria in which they had to meet in order for their work to appear in national exhibits. For example, painters had to use colors there were pleasant to the human eye; horses could not be blue and fields could not be purple. Anything abstract was banned. Only art that was natural and accurately depicted the desired view of the Germany people was acceptable. Unfortunately for groups previously mentioned, “artists who failed to meet with the approval of the chamber were “visited” by the Gestapo”. (Carmilly, 107)
Hitler opened the Degenerate Art exhibition on July 19, 1937. Maxx Beckmann was a German born painter and “ten...[of his]... paintings and a larger number of his graphic works had been pilloried in Munich as “degenerate”. Beckmann was greatly appreciated across Europe for his artwork, which demonstrated an original color scheme in his depiction of the average person. On the same day that Beckmann learned that his paintings would appear in the exhibit, he fled to Amsterdam....

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