TIO NYC: “Degenerate Art” at the Neue Galerie

TIO NYC: “Degenerate Art” at the Neue Galerie

The Neue Galerie’s big spring show, “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” was close to  three years in the making, but the pay off in the timing was that it opened more or less on the heels of the discovery of about 1,400 works suspected of being traded or looted during the Nazis’ reign, including paintings by Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and others who grew up to become art world rock stars. Some of works disappeared in the late 1930s, around the time the Nazis raided German museums and public collections, confiscating pieces deemed “degenerate” because Hitler found them” un-German” or Jewish in nature.


We were fortunate – caveat emptor, the lines are long –  to have caught the show on our whirlwind cultural tour of New York. This blog from the Financial Times online offers a good overview.

You have waited patiently to see a collection of Klees, Kirchners, Dixes and Beckmanns. And so, all those decades ago, did those other viewers, perhaps to sneer or be repulsed, but maybe not.

The Nazis were barbarians with an erratically refined taste in art, and they seem to have loved even works that they loudly claimed to detest. They confiscated unsanctioned avant-garde art from German museums – then tucked much of it away in their homes. They deemed modernism worthless – and sold it to fund the Reich. They declared it toxic – and invited the public to see it.

Hitler, a failed artist and avid collector who dreamed of creating the ultimate museum, ordered up the Entartete Kunst exhibition, which toured various German cities. That anthology of contemporary masterpieces, presented in horrified mockery, turned out to be a spectacularly successful blockbuster. In Munich, 2m viewers filed through galleries filled with 600 works purged from state-owned collections. At the same time, a few blocks away, a lavish official display of muscular nudes and glowing soldiers, painted on heroic scale, opened in a new and chilly temple to Nazi aesthetics. Hardly anyone went…

'A Group of Artists (The Painters of the Brücke)', 1925-26, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

‘A Group of Artists (The Painters of the Brücke)’, 1925-26, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Continue reading here.

And the following is a video preview of the show produced by the Wall Street Journal online.



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