Monday, January 04, 2010

Nazi Idyll and Anti-Postmodernism

Paul Klee - The Angler [Der Angler] confiscated "degenerate" art

"First, to see Nazism as restorationist, as nostalgic for recreating past idylls in any literal sense, is to fail to recognize that the mythic core which acted as the lynch-pin of all its ideology, policy, and propaganda was the myth of national palingenesis: the nation's rebirth is a radically new order..." Nazi Art: Romatic Twilight or (Post)modernist Dawn? - Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 18, No.2 (1995), pp. 103-107 (full text on

"Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions...While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were narrowly traditional in manner and that exalted the "blood and soil" values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience. Similarly, music was expected to be tonal and free of any jazz influences; films and plays were censored." Degenerate Art - Wikipedia

"This system of idealized mythology, though it tended to depict the material world, had little or nothing to do with realism. According to Hinz, “Objectivism is not realism if the objects depicted are not themselves drawn from the reality of the present.”19 In fact, realist painters in Germany had been among the first victims of the art purges, since the verism practiced by painters of the Weimar period depicted the capitalist, bourgeois world; a world that National Socialism attempted to destroy by claiming that it was egotistic and destructive. In contrast, NSDAP art depicted a world that, if it ever existed, was no longer possible in modern western societies; a world of joyous labor, unified culture, and unending prosperity." Art in the Third Reich -

Nazi Approved Art - A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust

"'Postmodernism' is a bogy monster designed to frighten middle America. Nobody knows what it is, but they get the sense that it's bad." The postmodernist problem - Feb 8, 2001

"A new German art failed to materialize, as the limited subject matter for artistic concerns—military heroism; a fit body; portraits of the Führer; and seductive, almost pornographic, images of women—became the style of the period. The two major German sculptors who have remained the subject of artistic investigation are Arno Breker and Josef Thorak because of their focus on the human body, considerations of classical form, and a type of slick modernism that crept into corporate commercials and advertising during the 1990s." Art, Banned - Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity,

How postmodernism controls your identity, Part 1 - New World Order University

"Rather than censor modernist art, the Nazis confiscated it. In 1937 they removed more than 20,000 such works from the collections of German individuals and museums — works by more than 200 artists, including Otto Dix, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Pablo Picasso, and Kurt Schwitters. With 650 such works, they mounted an exhibition titled Degenerate Art ("Entartete 'Kunst'")...In each installation, the works were poorly hung and surrounded by graffiti and hand written labels mocking the artists and their creations...The Nazis expected Germans to recognize these works as presenting "negativity and the incomprehensibility of the world," which pitted modernist aesthetics against what fascists characterized as their own positivism, progressive goals, and noble ideals — an ostensibly hopeful Weltanschauung (world-view) that led to their ruthlessly forcing their "solutions" on the world.

"I Shop Therefore I Am" Barbara Kruger


I've written here before about the suppression of postmodernism in colleges in the USA and why I thought that was going on. Basically, my theory is that it's the remnants of the Nazi mindframe and intolerance of anything they can't understand. Realism is celebrated by many traditionalists because it doesn't take any effort to, say, try to interpret it, as realism doesn't require imagination on the part of the observer. I know that sounds simplistic but I believe all hatred stems from fear, insecurity and lack of understanding.

I also believe the rejection of postmodernism is really a rejection of mixing styles and genres, perhaps to go hand in hand with fear of multiculturalism. In defining a genre or style rigidly, you could exclude any new, emergent creativity in favor of conservation of that one familiar thing, frozen in time without unwanted derailment (from political goals attached to the style). To slay threat of competition, you can condemn any style as being all bad, or inferior, and rationalize such acts as preservation of high (or "real") art.

(Image: No._5,_1948.jpg‎ (175 × 353 pixels, file size: 163 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)An abstract painting by Jackson Pollock)

"One compact definition is that postmodernism rejects modernism's grand narratives of artistic direction, eradicating the boundaries between high and low forms of art, and disrupting genre's conventions with collision, collage, and fragmentation. Postmodern art holds that all stances are unstable and insincere, and therefore irony, parody, and humor are the only positions that cannot be overturned by critique or revision. "Pluralism and diversity" are other defining features." Postmodern Art - Wikipedia

"Classic Photography In Lego” by Mike Stimpson

Related link:
Banned & Dangerous Art