HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

How did the art and visual culture of the Third Reich achieve a Gesamtkunstwerk?

Art and visual culture by the third Reich achieved Gesamtkunstwerk in Germany by allowing only nationalistic art, or art that employs the help of national pride and the service of people to the Fatherland. Nazi-era cultural policies instrumentalized art the same way Gesamtkunstwerk was used; visual art was used as a tool to further the cause of nazi era politics, ideas of national pride, serving one’s country militarily, agriculturally, politically, socially, and any other services that suggest allegiance was made through art and normalized so that the people of Germany know it is one’s duty to help their country. Nazi critiques of modern art made a distinction about good art and ‘degenerate’ art from their belief that they were a distinct, favorable race than all other nations of all the World. Nazi Germany also believed to be descendants from the Holy Roman Empire, ideas that perpetuated their idea of a perfected race and applying them in the real world. A ‘spirit’ or cultural renewal was found in Germany through this type of art, because it was a time of unity for Germany; they seemed more unified and proud as a country. There are many ways to just look at an object, especially a Nazi-era object, and see plainly the aesthetics the creator tried to imply, but the history of the object gives it meaning, knowing what the meaning is, is really important if one wants to know the aesthetic.
- Summer 2016

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