The Nazi term for avant-garde art is "degenerate art." Adolf Hitler considered this art to be Bolshevik, Jewish, antisocial, and therefore very dangerous for the Aryans.
The cultural policy of the Hitler regime banned and destroyed all works of modernists, and the artists themselves subjected to persecution and repression. The Minister of Propaganda and Education of Germany, Josef Goebbels , actively participated in the struggle against degenerative art .
The exhibition of degenerative art of 1937, held in Berlin, was to show how repulsive and inappropriate were such works in developing Germany. Now you can call these works avant-garde, but at that time the avant-garde, that is, going ahead, considered themselves Nazis.
Degenerative art. Paintings banned
Degenerative art, represented in the paintings, showed human images distorted, ridiculous, and even completely absent. This was the main criterion in the selection of objectionable exhibits. In reproach, the authors put the depreciation of human beings and beauty, the reluctance to inspire with their works, to call for deeds, to raise the spirit of the people.
The perfect man in art and life
The view of the Nazis about the perfect man is similar to that of many philosophers describing strong, healthy and beautiful people. Even in ancient Hellas, the beauty of the human body was praised, both physical and spiritual perfection.
The beautiful human body as the top of art was explored by Lessing and Hoggart, Leonardo and Durer. In their works, even the ideal proportions of the human body were described, which again brings us back to the harmony of antiquity that the Nazis propagated. For the sake of this harmony, the purity of the race, degenerative art has been subjected to such cruel criticism. It was understood that the pictures subjected to condemnation, belittle a person, show the degradation of the individual, this was condemned, and not all avant-garde art and innovation.
At one time, Klee proposed to move away from civilization back to the true roots of mankind, predicted the collapse of Western culture. And indeed indeed, many artists at that time were keen on ethnic creativity, a passion for shamanism and the primitiveness of wild tribes. As strange as it may seem, the appeals of artists to primitiveness, which sounded everywhere, smoothed the accusations of creating a degenerate art.
Exterminating the Evil
Before Hitler, many condemned art that degrades human dignity, an ideal image, but there was no such persecution and extermination before. Whatever it was, degenerate art stood, we are still with interest, even if not always with understanding we consider it at exhibitions. Works condemned by the Nazis were recognized as masterpieces of art. By the way, no one destroyed unwanted works, most of the collection of degenerate art, seized by the Nazis, was sold in America, and some burnt in the fire.
Heroes of different times
Any era in the development of culture leaves a clear image of man, in this merit not only artists, but also writers, philosophers, politicians, ideologists. Time changes, along with it the image of the ideal person also changes .
Italy Renaissance era left the image of condottiere, a saint, a merchant. Germany represents the image of a preacher, a city dweller. England - in the image of a true gentleman. Spain - in a monastic image or in the image of a noble hidalgo. Russia with the image of a builder, an intellectual, a soldier. Different countries, different epochs have their images, beautiful and lively, remembered for their naturalness.
The Nazis, who tried to build everything in a line, needed order in everything, including art. The advantages of economic coincided with political views, this required confidence, and degenerative art did not give that kind of soil. This art was not liked by many, as a result, the bulk of society was carried away by pseudo-classical art in a clearly expressed form. Thus, degenerative art is all that did not fit the usual perception of the Nazis.
Exhibitions of degenerate art and music
The exhibition held in Munich, designed to show all the abomination of such art, caused a huge stir, during the year it was visited by more than three million people. At the same time, for greater contrast, in the Palace of Arts, an exhibition "The Greatest German Art" was held. At the exhibition were presented more than 900 exhibits, selected personally by Adolf Hitler. The canvases depicted marching soldiers with German flags, scenes of rural and urban life, naked women with a distinctive Nordic appearance, and much of what the respectable German citizen might have been interested in in the notion of the Nazis. For several years of such persecution, Hitler managed to evoke an unprecedented interest in the art of the avant-garde.
In addition to the paintings of artists, degenerative art included sculpture, music, cinema. All that, according to the Nazis, was flawed, unworthy, low, was classified as degenerative art.
In 1938, in Dusseldorf, the Nazis opened an exhibition of degenerate music! Its task was to kindle hatred of unnecessary musical styles and their authors. There were cartoons, posters, posters, which denounced the unwanted music and its creators. Even special booths were equipped, where you could personally see that this music is degenerative, having listened to it. The works of Stravinsky and Hindemith, Mendelssohn and Offenbach were classified as defective works. Under the ban was the "Threepenny Opera", as the author of the music was a Jew. The jazz music was considered harmful, as it belonged to African-Americans, and this is a race disliked by the Nazi regime.
Flexibility of given standards
The exhibition was timed to the "Imperial Musical Congress", which was held in Dusseldorf, again to play in contrast, as in the case of painting. The Nazis were concerned about the detrimental impact of the music of the United States on German citizens. But still, when choosing candidates for degenerates, the Third Reich acted with an eye on foreign policy. A striking example of this was the Hungarian composer-antifascist Bartok. Despite all his statements about the Hitler regime, he was not only not banned, but continued to perform his works throughout the country, since the Hungarians at that time were allies of Germany.
Unlike the exhibition of degenerate art, the exhibition of degenerate music had no success, and after three weeks it completely closed. And the works of great "degenerates" remain masterpieces even today.