Rather than simply destroy the offending works, they were put on display for the mockery of the general public, hung the wrong-way-round in some cases, improperly lit, cramped together, the walls festooned with mocking graffiti. "Insolent mockery of the Divine under Centrist rule" and "Deliberate sabotage of national defense" are two refrains which strike me as not-unfamiliar to today's vocabulary.
In this way, modern artists were denied any kind of martyrdom -- their worthlessness was firmly established in the public mind as thousand lined up to see the "degeneracy" and freely make up their own minds as to whether the work was offensive, obscene, immoral, blasphemous, or just plain bad. We curate, you decide.
|"Self-Portrait as Soldier"|
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1915
One example, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Self-Portrait as Soldier (1915) shows the artist, a World War I veteran, his painting hand severed. Kirchner had not actually lost an appendage during the war, rather the piece (painted during convalescence following a nervous breakdown) expresses his feelings that his war experience would rob him of his craft. The naked woman suggests he feared other war-related inadequacies.
|"Self-Portrait With Hat"|
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 1919
This work by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (left) is part of the permanent collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art, also saved from the 1937 exhibition in Munich.
We saw Cabaret last night. It was very moving. There were no drunken, existential rants before bedtime. The first act closes with a spirited, patriotic round of Tomorrow Belongs To Me. My mother, seated next to me, remarked, "The Nazis did write good music," adding swiftly, "of course, they just stole a bunch of folk songs and changed the words."
(Great Lakes Theater, 2011)