The 1930’s was a time when there was a lot of political happenings, and people were more motivated than ever to show and fight for their power. A lot of artists thought this was the perfect time to produce artwork to emphasise the goings on and document the important events that were happening round them.
During the time of the Nazi’s power a new exhibition came around called ‘Degenerate Art’ which had more than 650 paintings, sculptures, prints and books to emphasise what modern art works were acceptable in the eyes of Nazi’s. During the four months that it was exhibited in Munich, it was viewed by more than two million people.
The subjects in the work they produced were unnatural with unsettling subjects and reflected their violent disruption to Germany. Paul Schultze-Naumburg who was one of the Nazi’s most vocal political critics of modern architecture. His work juxtaposed modern art with photographs and drawings of diseased and deformed individuals. From then on, “…images of healthy, confident and active people would replace those of the ‘cripples, criminals and whores’ which, according to the Nazis, infested Weimer art.” (Whitford: 1995). Their art mostly presented human beings as social models such as warriors, peasants, athletes, factory worker rather than individuals.
Their buildings were monumental, and within their paintings, people were divided into different standard types. Men were aggressive and ready for conflict and women would be passive and there to have his children.
When they looked at the body in this era, they took great interest in focusing on sport individuals, seeing as one of their representations of human beings was an athlete. They wanted to boast the appearance of their countries sportsmanship to prove that they were ready to be heroic soldiers in wartime.
Adolf Hitler gave a speech at the opening of the House of German Art in 1937 and said “Men and women are more healthy, stronger: there is a new feeling of life, a new joy of life. Never was humanity in its external appearance and it’s frame of mind nearer to the ancient world than it is today”. (Becker: 1995)With such an expectation on people to be athletic and artists to produce work of sportsman and events that happened around sports, and those that would not comply would be driven to silence, or murdered in concentration camps.
With Adolf Hitler being one of the most powerful men in history that ever lived, although I would like to think that my work isn’t influenced by him, it’s sometimes interesting to look back and see how an individual couldn’t care less about what people thought about him and whatever he wanted, he strived to achieve.
Whitford, F (1995) Art and Power: Images of the 1930’s.
Farrington Printers Limited, Farringdon.
Barron, S (1991) “Degenerate Art” The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany.o [online] available from <http://www.lacma.org/sites/all/themes/custom/lacma/reading_room/degenerate-art-the-fate-of-the-avant-garde-in-nazi-germany.html#page/8/mode/2up> [19 March 2014]