In mounting "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937," the Neue Galerie aspires to shed new light on a very dark period of German history. Examining the place where politics and culture intersected in spectacular, brutal, and extreme fashion, we are led to commit again to the values we believe must be defended. Our sincere hope is that, by uncovering the full history of the Nazi attack on modern art, we will help point the way to a future in which such an assault will not be tolerated.
Led by our curator Olaf Peters, we have taken a bold, fresh approach to this subject. For this exhibition, we have included both the modern art that the Nazis vilified—masterworks of Expressionism, Cubism, and the like—as well as art officially sanctioned by the National Socialists. This is nothing short of an eye-opening confrontation: between the very human work of artists facing persecution, including Max Beckmann and Oskar Kokoschka, and the idealized visions of those working under the auspices of official approval, such as Adolf Ziegler. The manner of presentation has never before been seen in the United States, yet we feel it makes the vision of the artists labeled as degenerate stand in even greater relief, and the tragedy of their stories resound even more strongly.
Director, Neue Galerie New York