Ernst Ludwig Kirchner b.1880 d.1938 A Group of Artists (The Painters of the Brücke) 1925-26 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner b.1880 - d.1938
A Group of Artists (The Painters of the Brücke) 1925-26

The National Socialist regime of Germany coined the term Entarte Kunst(Degenerate Art) to use in its campaign against modern art, such as that of the avant-garde Weimar Republic which Adolf Hitler condemned preferring a model inspired by classical Greek and Roman art. During the period over 5,000 works were seized from museums and private collections, including 1,052 by Nolde, 759 by Heckel, 639 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and 508 by Max Beckmann, as well as smaller numbers of works by such artists as Alexander Archipenko, Marc Chagall, James Ensor, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Artists branded as degenerates suffered from sanctions such as being; dismissed from teaching positions, forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases forbidden to produce art entirely.

 Oskar Kokoschka b. 1886 d. 1980 Poster with Self-Portrait for Der Sturm magazine 1910 Oskar Kokoschka b. 1886 - d. 1980
Poster with Self-Portrait for Der Sturm magazine (1910)

Re-creating an exhibition is a curatorial technique to explore, revise and revisit a moment in time and is not uncommon - a couple examples are New York Historical Society's The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution (2013) and When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 (2013) at Fondazione Prada. With much recent hype about Nazi looted art - always an important issue at auction houses and coinciding with the premier of Monuments Men starring George Clooney and the bust of art "collector" Cornelius Gurlitt this fascinating exhibition at Neue Galerie came about at a good time.

Adolf Ziegler b. 1892 - d. 1959 The Four Elements: Fire, Earth and Water, Air (1937) Adolf Ziegler b. 1892 - d. 1959
The Four Elements: Fire, Earth and Water, Air (1937)

Degenerate Art The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937 showcases a number of works shown in The Degenerate Art exhibit that premiered in Munich. The 1937 exhibition featured over 650 paintings, sculptures, prints, and books from the collections of thirty two German museums of "Degenerate Art" and was meant to educate the public, by help of wall-texts of the unsuitability of the work on view, traveling to eleven cities across Germany and Austria. Seeing the compelling work in the celebrated Upper East Side galleries of the New York museum specializing in early twentieth century German and Austrian art and design founded by Ronald S. Lauder in 2001 evokes questions of the political power of art and the sharp contrast between what was classified as Degenerate and not, such as the above piece by Adolf Ziegler.

 

 

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