HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

Is it possible to divorce form from content? What about in politically volatile circumstances? In other words, can a Nazi-era cultural artifact be interpreted purely for its aesthetics? Why or why not?

Although it is very much possible to divorce form from content, I feel this task becomes difficult when it involves Nazi-era cultural artifacts. This becomes difficult for us because of the effects the Nazis and Hitler had on the rest of the world during World War II. For example, when viewing the documentary “Triumph of the Will”, judgment begins to be made about the film because it displays Hitler and all his followers during one of his rallys. We become shocked on how much the German people trusted Hitler and listened to his words. This is shocking to us because we know the outcome of Hitler’s agenda. The key to interpreting Nazi era cultural artifacts solely on aesthetics is to remove our perspective from the artifact and put ourselves in the shoes of the people at the time. Once we manage to do this, we begin to view the documentary for how it was visually created, such as its use of angles and camera perspective, rather than its content.

- Summer 2016

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