ii. reconstruction of Munich degenerate art exhibit

The Degenerate Art exhibition was an ingenious fusion of art with text. Before the visitor drew any conclusions about the art, s/he was told what to think by the words silkscreened on the wall. The agenda behind the wall texts was not obvious. Viewers were treated to a litany of comments on the imagery in the room. Dominated by paintings and sculptures of nudes, texts screamed "An insult to German womanhood" and "The ideal - cretin and whore." Images that depicted people were strangely associated with images of blacks, or so said another screaming text: "The Jewish longing for the wilderness reveals itself--in Germany the negro becomes the racial ideal of a degenerate art." The texts suggested that Jewish artists were the creators of this art; in fact, most of the artists whose work was exhibited in "Degenerate Art" were not Jewish. But their images were branded as Jewish, as if "Jewish" and "degenerate" were synonomous.

Other texts were direct quotations from speeches by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels. They hold the artists responsible for these allegedly reprehensible images and for the adverse effect they potentially could have had on their viewers. Hitler asserts that these artists had a world view--that they seek to bring the German state back to a stone age era, with a "mixing" and "adulteration" of nations and races. Big ideas-- credited to artists whose greatest aspiration was in fact merely to have successful careers as painters or sculptors. Agents of "cultural decay" were these works of art, alleged Hitler, and the Nazis set out to eliminate them.

As you move through the "Degenerate Art galleries," try to unravel the techniques that the Nazis used to attack the art. Get the translations for the Nazi wall inscriptions in German. Be a detective.

The image on the right is the doorway to the gallery, not just a poster. To enter here you need Flash 4.0. If you don't have it, click here.

 



page 21