HAVC 135B : German Art 1905-1945

What task did German artists in exile face with regard to saving art and culture from Hitler’s destructive vision? How did that anxiety surface in artworks, films, and intellectual thought produced by Germans in exile?

Through the development of a “plurality of vision”, the German exile was the save art under newfound cultural and visual literacy, unbound by Nazi ideology and free to express themselves (lecture). In a social process of denying and being denied their own homeland cultures, exiles had to simultaneously reinvent themselves and their art in order to fit into their new homes. As a newfound horizon for fleeing refugees, Hollywood was considered the “most important center of German exile culture” (lecture). Here, exile film exhibited a hybrid, pan-Euro flavor as seen in works such as Casablanca, a Hungarian-directed film portraying a politically neutral US with a permeating, decisive fear of refugees. German exile literature, conversely, was poignantly German, often detailing the country’s cultural and political strife. The Black Mountain College served as a safe haven for exiles, teaching in opposition to the “false values” of established academic art. Under Bauhaus influence, the BMC taught the importance of creative thinking and process in order to supplement art and life.
- Summer 2016

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