Why Hitler hated abstract art


#1

[Permalink]


#2

Hell hath no fury like an artist scorned.


#3

“Haters gonna hate.”


#4

I always love the implication that WWII could have been avoided if the art community were more open minded and less judgmental.


#5

Also, I think in the 20s-30s, abstract art was firmly associated with the left.


#6

He was hardly the only totalitarian with an enthusiasm for banal vaguely realist kitsch(nor, indeed, if the demographics of the consumption of Precious Moments figurines and Thomas Kinkade The Painter of Light™ schlock, does it seem that humbler and less dangerous common-conservatives are immune… I wonder why?)

I’m sure Hitler’s art-school drama snit had something to do with it; but there has to be more to it than that.

(come to think of it, aren’t there a variety of other downright-baffling ‘hard-right group objects to some aspect of modernity that seems so innocuous or politically irrelevant that it’s hard to understand’ phenomena out there? Both the Nazis and Conservapaedia have some kind of mysterious hate-on for theory of relativity, there are those Jesus enthusiasts who violently oppose set theory… There is definitely something up.)


#7

No. Just look at futurism, which wasn’t supported by Hitler but is closely related to italian fascism:

We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti


#8

I honestly don’t know about this, but I would suspect the artists of being less than earnest in these quotes.


#9

Well, he did try to enroll in the Vienna Art college - only they wouldn’t accept him. Not enough talent to pass the entrance exam.
Still, that doesn’t really explain all that hate for modern art.
Besides, ‘Entartete Kunst’ was organized by the ‘Ministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda’, in other words Joseph Goebbels. He also was head of the ‘Reichskulturkammer’.
If you know what ‘Aufklärung’ and ‘Kultur’ are supposed to mean this comes across as a very sick joke.


#10

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti ‘invented’ Futurism and in 1909 published a manifesto that started a movement.
When WW I began in 1914 many Futurists saw this as a chance to put their theories to the test and volunteered.


#11

I think we have become familiar with the approach of appealing to the fearful and less intelligent factions of the electorate to fill out your otherwise self-serving partisanship. The Republicans have used it for years.


#12

Not to mention Madison Avenue.

Reading tip: Bob Altemeyer - The Authoritarians
Book by a shrink who’s a professor at University of Manitoba on, well authoritaianism. Published 2006 as a free download.
Sorry, don’t have the link at hand, so just throw yourself into the arms of a trusted search engine.
(I proably stumbled over it at Boing Boing anyway.)


#13

What? Don’t know if you’re trolling or I misunderstand what you are saying.

But… you realise this is one of the men behind the “futuristic manifesto”, which is more or less considered the definition/declaration of what fascism is. (Fascism became in germany nazism.) The quote shows many of the essential parts of fascism.


#14

What I meant was that artists frequently are not dealing with surface meaning, but playing games with language and intention and the nature of truth.

You don’t think Jonathon Swift really wanted to cook up Irish children, do you?

I am also aware that artists tend to be lead by the crowd, like anyone. They may have indeed been fascists. I have always wondered about this and do not trust the texts to reveal truth here. Sarcasm and satire often get lost in translation and by unsophisticated readings. I am saying it is difficult to convict someone based on here-say and the tilted opinions of critics or historians. I am certainly not apologizing for them. The creative people I know love ambiguity and confusion (well, not all of them.)

No, I am not trolling you with a few sentences in opposition to your opinion.


#15

Ayn Rand hated non representational art, and non classical music.


#16

I think it’s more post-modernity than modernity that is objected to, although it depends a bit which faction of the right you’re talking about. But generally, I think that authoritarianism depends on a belief in a stable system of meaning, and so they’re ill at ease with any body of thought that suggests that categories are ultimately arbitrary and meaning is fluid.


#17

National Socialism had a strong populist streak and that’s something they have in common with some of the more extreme conservative elements. For obvious reasons now they are mostly identified with the Holocaust and WW2, but many of their more mundane policies are of the kind that sounds great as long as you don’t think about them for more than half a minute or if you happen to be a moron. “We’ll just outlaw farmers losing the family farm.”, “Kids should learn practical things in school, not stuff some ivory tower egghead made up.”, “We’ll ban giving prep schools fancy names like those people are something better.”, “We’ll make sure that artists can paint properly and don’t just scribble something my dog could have done better.”, “We’ll build a 1000 tonne tank that will kick every other tank’s ass” etc. To such ideologies any suggestion that the common sense of the random undereducated guy confused by the world around him might not be the best guide is offensive.


#18

What I stated was not an opinion, this is established well known historical facts! The notion that the “futuristic manifesto” is some kind of elaborate performance art, joke or misinterpretation is just weird. And you are the first person I’ve seen that proposed that.There is no ambiguity or some bigger context needed.That’s why I thought you were trolling.


#19

Ever heard of Dada or Duchamp? The early 20th century was a ripe time for the pranksters of the artworld. A ripe time for all of art, really, but the idea that judgement in art was fundamentally disconnected from any real assessment of aesthetic value (whatever the fuck that might be, but I can’t think of a better way to explain it right now) became a subject that some artists wanted to deal with. This kind of meta-content was a new thing and took many many decades to filter up to the larger culture. Nevertheless, a disenchanted group of artists took on the pomposity and emptiness of elite culture in many different ways, including parody of high art and outright condemnation of business as usual for artists. They had watched their brothers and fathers slaughtered to protect the positions of useless aristocrats.

A century later, retrenchment and further distance between high and low has caused great insecurity among art “professionals.” A drift toward complacent acceptance of the position of artists as the play things of the wealthy has brought along with it a systematic re-examination of the 20th century’s dramatic upheavals in culture and the inevitable distortion of the efforts of those early dissidents of art to make them seem like out of touch elitists themselves. The great artists of the 20th and 19th century who carved out an honest way for artist to express themselves and remain true to the real value of art have been redefined as puppets of extreme politics and unwitting collaborators with evil empires, including the USA. None of this analysis is particularly deep or probing, largely finger-pointing and nose-holding. A tactic that works just fine among the not so rigorous thinkers and opinion makers of art.

Your insistence that this idea that Futurists were collaborators with Fascists is established historical fact just tells me you haven’t examined why these stories are told in the first place and you haven’t allowed that your own teachers might be mis-guided academics with an axe to grind. Anything presented as “established historical fact” should be examined with a high power intellectual microscope. That phrase sounds a lot like a slightly more confident version of “received wisdom.” That is also a red flag for serious students of what really happened. Which is ALWAYS more nuanced and more complicated than any retelling can communicate. Even when that retelling does not have ulterior motives.

I watched an interview with Frank Zappa last night and was once again amazed by the depth of his understanding of the power of culture and how dictatorships, he characterized the current US government as a variety of “candy coated” dictatorship, consistently work to undermine culture because they correctly see it as a threat to their continued existence.

I honestly have never examined this story of the Futurists collaboration with Fascism up close, because I am just not that interested in the work of the Futurists, but I have always suspected this version of the story to be revisionist at least, if not down right invented. Maybe a particular artist is mis-represented as being characteristic of them when in fact he was tolerated until things got ugly and by then it was too late. Maybe a manifesto that was a jokey lark of a parody was used against them by their detractors and it stuck. Or it might be that those clowns really were not all that sophisticated and did fall for fascism at the beginning. To say that they knew how things would work out and went ahead anyway might be the least likely explanation.


#20

DADA wasn’t about pulling pranks.