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Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The term "degenerate" was adopted by the Nazis as part of its campaign against modern art. Many works branded as such were seized from museums and private collections,and a three-year traveling exhibition crisscrossed Germany and Austria to put this art on display. Afterward most works were sold, lost, or presumed destroyed. Curator Olaf Peters talks about the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937” exhibition at the Neue Galerie. The show includes works by Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Ernst Luwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, and Emil Nolde, among others. It includes approximately 50 paintings and sculptures, 30 works on paper, and several posters, as well as photographs and other memorabilia. One room will contrast so-called "Degenerate Art" with officially sanctioned art of the period, including works shown at the 1937 "Great German Art Exhibition" in Munich. The exhibition is on view at the Neue Galerie March 13–June 30, 2014.

Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne/Neue Galerie
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). A Group of Artists (The Painters of the Brücke), 1925-26. Oil on canvas, 66 1/8 x 49 5/8 in. (168 x 126 cm). Museum Ludwig, Cologne

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Photo: Jorge Bastos/Neue Galerie
Lasar Segall (1891-1957). Eternal Wanderers, 1919. Oil on canvas, 54 3/8 x 72 ½ in. (138 x 184 cm). Lasar Segall Museum, IBRAM/Ministry of Culture

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

© Ernst Barlach Haus – Stiftung Hermann F. Reemtsma, Hamburg/Neue Galerie
Ernst Barlach (1870-1937). The Beserker, 1910. Bronze, 21 ½ x 28 7/8 x 10 3/8 in. (54.5 x 73.4 x 26.4 cm).

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

© Neue Galerie New York. Gift of Leonard A. Lauder © 2014 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ProLitteris, Zürich/Neue Galerie
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980). Poster with Self-Portrait for Der Sturm magazine, 1910. Colored lithograph, 26 3/8 x 17 5/8 in. (67 x 44.7 cm).

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Neue Galerie
Max Beckmann (1884-1950.) Departure, Frankfurt 1932, Berlin 1933-35. Oil on canvas, 84 ¾ x 39 ¼ in. (215.3 x 99.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously (by exchange)

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Photo credit: bpk, Berlin/Art Resource, NY/Neue Galerie
Adolf Ziegler (1892-1959) The Four Elements: Fire (left wing), Earth and Water (center panel), Air (right wing), 1937

Oil on canvas, 66 7/8 x 106 ¼ in. (170 x 270 cm). Pinakothek der Moderne, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Digital Image © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Paul Klee (1879-1940). The Angler, 1921. Watercolor, transfer drawing and ink on paper, 18 7/8 x 12 3/8 in. (50.5 x 31.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. John S. Newberry Collection

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Neue Galerie
Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials (Hoffmann, Willrich, Hansen, and Ziegler) standing by the Dada wall at the “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art) exhibition, July 16, 1937.

Paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Kurt Schwitters have been deliberately hung askew and are accompanied by a slogan penned by George Grosz. This photo was published in the Nationalist Observer, South German (Süddeutsche) issue, No. 199, July 18, 1937. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany. bpk, Berlin, Art Resource, NY

From the exhibition “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” on view at the Neue Galerie through June 30, 2014.

Guests:

Olaf Peters

Comments [4]

Charles from Downtown

Reminds me of Mayor Giuliani's attacks on the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He cost the Brooklyn Museum tens, hundreds or maybe even millions in legal fees defending themselves against his unlimited taxpayer funded NYC Law Department. He cost the Whitney millions in patrons donations.

Because of Giuliani, a Picasso drawing exhibition avoided the United States all together. After his attacks, Americans could only see art that fit Giuliani's interpretation of art.

Thanks to Bloomberg, Giuliani's mayoral papers have been shipped off to a LIC warehouse where only Giuliani has access. First time in history journalists did not have access to such public documents.

My guess is the press did not even think about going through Bloomberg's mayoral documents. 20 years of papers that need to be released.

Mar. 12 2014 08:45 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I too personally am a Philistine and am unmoved by modern art. I just don't "get it." I know they are supposed to convey all kinds of ethereal emotions, but they don't viscerally communicate with me. I prefer realism, if at all.
I suppose calling the modern art movements of the early 20th century "degenerate" has a lot to do with the liberalization of mores and of women after the Victorian period of strict moral hypocrisies. but no doubt antisemitism played its part, as scapegoating Jews for the moral "decline" always gets approving nods.

Mar. 12 2014 01:30 PM
Peg

Jody - the segments begin to play at showtime - starting at noon weekdays for Lopate. They are available for replay after the end of the segment at 2:00PM.

Mar. 12 2014 10:41 AM
Jody

can't get these segments to play. Am I missing something?

Mar. 12 2014 09:48 AM

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