Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937
On March 13, 2014 Neue Galerie New York will open the exhibition "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937." This will be the first major U.S. museum exhibition devoted to the infamous display of modern art by the Nazis since the 1991 presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The term "degenerate" was adopted by the National Socialist regime as part of its campaign against modern art. Many works branded as such by the Nazis were seized from museums and private collections. Following the showing on these works in a three-year traveling exhibition that criss-crossed Germany and Austria, most were sold, lost, or presumed destroyed. In this light, the recent discovery in Munich of the Gurlitt trove of such artwork has attracted considerable attention. The film "The Monuments Men,"directed by George Clooney and due to open in February 2014, suggests the level of popular interest in the subject.
Highlights of the show include a number of works shown in Munich in the summer of 1937, such as Max Beckmann's Cattle in a Barn(1933); George Grosz's Portrait of Max Hermann-Neisse (1925); Erich Heckel's Barbershop (1913); Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Winter Landscape in Moonlight (1919), The Brücke-Artists (1926/27); Paul Klee's The Angler (1921), The Twittering Machine (1922), and Ghost Chamber with the Tall Door (1925); Oskar Kokoschka's The Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac (1910); Ewald Mataré's Lurking Cat (1928); Karel Niestrath's Hungry Girl (1925); Emil Nolde's Still-Life with Wooden Figure (1911), Red-Haired Girl (1919), and Milk Cows (1913); Christian Rohlf's The Towers of Soest (ca. 1916) and Acrobats (ca. 1916); Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's Pharisees (1912); and Lasar Segall's The Eternal Wanderers (1919), among others.
The Neue Galerie exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue published by Prestel Verlag. The publication provides a complete historical overview of the period and examines not only the genesis of the "Degenerate Art" show but also the rise of the topic "degenerate." Additional essays examine the National Socialist policy on art, the treatment of "Degenerate Art" in film, and the impact of this campaign in post-war Germany, and the world at large, as the claims of restitution arose. Dr. Olaf Peters serves as the catalogue editor, which features contributions from scholars Bernhard Fulda, Ruth Heftrig, Mario-Andreas von Luttichau, Karsten Müller, Olaf Peters, Jonathan Petropoulos, Ernst Ploil, Ines Schlenker, Aya Soika, and Karl Stamm.