Degenerate art

DEFINITION

A term applied to artwork in Germany during the Hitler era, it was considered a threat to the Nazis because it was counter to their political message. Many artists, later well known, fell under that label including some after their death such as Paul Gaughin, and Vincent Van Gogh. Other artists whose work was regarded as Degenerate and were publicly threatened and labeled are Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann, George Grosz and Theodore Fried. Beginning 1937, Hitler and other members of the Third Reich put together a list of what they classified as "degenerate" art, and toured Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, etc. parading the art and names of the artists they considered anathema to their principles. The living artists, many of whom were scattered throughout Europe, lived in danger of their lives, and many of the collectors of their art throughout Europe, hid or destroyed the art for fear of reprisals. The artists had no control over who was chosen or for what reason. Conversely, Hitler put forward what he considered art reflective of the superhuman race dealing with "modernism" and fair skinned blonds indicative of the "purity" of race. After the war, the artists whose art was chosen for these exhibits were considered celebrities. However, much of their artwork as well as the 'degenerate' art had been damaged or completely destroyed in temporary storage areas such as caves, chimneys, etc. Sources: Milton J. Ellenbogen, Trustee of the Theodore Fried Estate; AskART Biographies

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