HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

In what ways do Nazi critiques of modern art as “degenerate” rely on racial typologies and prejudice, as well as idealistic or utopian visions of a perfected Aryan race

Modern art was deemed to be unworthy “degenerate art” by the Führer. When the Degenerate Art exhibit first opened to the public, certain artworks belonging to families or owners were confiscated by the Nazis. Works from Kadinsky, Dada, Frank Grosz, and Jewish pieces were displayed in the exhibit to further show case the ‘ugliness’ of modern art, expressionism, and impressionism. In Stephanie Barron’s Degenerate Art, the author mentions that the Nazis thoroughly disliked modern art because they felt that “modernists plan[ned] to reform the world and the images of mankind that were visualized by the modernist movement were irritating and disturbing to their radicality and ambiguity” (Barron,89). The Nazis would criticize the absurd price that the people would pay for the ‘ugly’ art and rule out sickness, diversity, and homosexuality to romanticize an Aryan utopia. By allowing the exhibit to travel across Germany, the Nazis pushed their ideas and images of this idealistic future for Germany.
- Summer 2016

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