Is there any good Nazi art?

Discussions on the propaganda, architecture and culture in the Third Reich.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 Aug 2021 06:26

That's pretty much the question. From the Degenerate Art exhibition to trying to turn back the clock on Bauhaus architecture, I've always taken it for granted that the Nazis were philistines and all art they made/patronized/inspired sucked. But I've recently been formulating criticism of revisionist WW2 takes that conflate moral and managerial/technical evaluations of Nazism; I have to wonder whether I've made the same mistake in the aesthetic domain. I.e. I wonder whether I've conflated moral and aesthetic judgments too much and am therefore hypocritical in criticizing what I see as morally-motivated and bad critiques of Nazi technical practices (economic, tactical, logistic, engineering, etc.). Given that, IMO, morality and aesthetics and more closely related than those other fields, I'll be surprised if I'm forced to admit some hypocrisy on this score. But maybe...

I'll note two things frequently cited as exceptions: Orff's Carmina Burana and Riefenstahl's corpus. I don't like either, find both simplistic and fascistic.
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Aug 2021 12:12

Have you read "Hitler and the power of Aethetics?". Informative book about what Nazi art was. Arno Breker (the sculpter) was the most successful Nazi artist besides Leni.

https://www.amazon.com/Hitler-Power-Aes ... 1585673455

The Nazis were virulently opposed to "Modern/post-modern art/abstract art" terms of ideas and the movement towards metaphysics and abstraction. They moved art back to pre-modern styles.

The chief problem with Nazi art is that it is mostly not art, but illustrations/sculture/architecture that is intellectually & spiritually fraudulent/vacuous as the political, social, and racial ideology that informed it.

Imagine any bogus political movement in circulation today and think if a large array of "art" is created to replicate its bogus ideas...

I think however, some of the Nazi war artists are decent illustrators, if you interpret their art as celebrating universal masculine virtues rather than fascist & political.

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Aug 2021 15:33

Decent as illustration. IIRC there is a Fall Geib Worchenshau that has something similar (Hitler visiting masses of happy soldiers) on video :

Image

Image

Pretty similar to paintings of communist leaders

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Waleed Y. Majeed » 01 Aug 2021 17:26

This link lists a few artist of various fields worth looking into, not least Claus Bergen. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/definit ... tm#ziegler

Waleed

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Aug 2021 20:18

IIRC this one is called "The Last hand grenade".

Image

If I interpret this and a few other pieces from Nazi war art with Alexandre Dumas' lense (The Count of Monte Cristo) and this message:

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you."

...and drop the bogus politics, national, and racial agenda completely and instead project a universalist masculinity theme (united in all places and times) to the piece then it becomes much richer for it.

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Hans1906 » 02 Aug 2021 19:07

There is a complex scanned folder with many works of the German graphic artist "Mjoelnir" at that time, also online.

I am a bit shy to post this PDF file here in the forum, the works are pure German propaganda of the worst category at that time.
Some original posters of "Mjoelnir" are in my private collection of historical propaganda posters.

Hans Herbert Schweitzer: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Herbert_Schweitzer

These posters were, as almost always, a german flea market find long ago. It would never even occur to me, to frame these posters and hang them on a wall here in the house. (No, the posters are not for sale)
Very valuable, extremely expensive nowadays, but who do I tell...

An example can be found in the file attachment:

Small overview "schweitzer mjoelnir" / google photos: https://www.google.com/search?q=schweit ... 00&bih=759

Hans
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 22:11

Thanks for the responses. I should clarify that I mean something like "important" art rather than "good." There were of course talented painters/sculptors/musicians etc. who were Nazis and/or inspired/patronized by Nazis. "Important" art is something adds to the field of art by innovation or reaching a new height of perfection, something that continues to inspire future generations. Germany produced many such artists before Nazism and many after; there seems to be vanishingly little from the Nazi period.

With that clarification, I'd have to concede Riefenstahl as "important" even though I don't like her. My sense is that her innovations are mostly just bringing Wagnerian Sturm and Drang into cinematic techniques.

Arno Breker is certainly a "good" sculptor but he doesn't seem "important." Same goes for Carl Orff, although I'm more dubious about him being a "good" composer.
Cult Icon wrote:The Nazis were virulently opposed to "Modern/post-modern art/abstract art" terms of ideas and the movement towards metaphysics and abstraction. They moved art back to pre-modern styles.

The chief problem with Nazi art is that it is mostly not art, but illustrations/sculture/architecture that is intellectually & spiritually fraudulent/vacuous as the political, social, and racial ideology that informed it.
Cult Icon wrote:Decent as illustration.
Agreed.

Any ridigly hierarchical, conservative society is going to produce less innovation and "important" art. Comparing centuries of Roman art with a couple decades of Athens is an example. Plenty of good Roman artists but very little added beyond ideas and techniques of those they conquered.

The fraudulence and vacuity of Nazi ethos undercuts even the "goodness" of Nazi art. Pictures of eagles like Hans1906 links are just painfully buffoonish. There may have been some "good" Nazi art but most of their mass-market output is worse than even contemporary mass-market schlock from the US. Pictures like this conjure the howling spiritual void of the embittered, vicious petit bourgeois that was the Nazi base.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 02 Aug 2021 22:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 22:22

Cult Icon wrote:
01 Aug 2021 12:12
Have you read "Hitler and the power of Aethetics?".
Adding that to my list.

In college I read a book arguing that German Romanticism set them on the path to Nazism, can't remember the title now. The theme has been picked up by others, for example https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1241042.pdf.
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Hans1906 » 02 Aug 2021 22:45

TheMarcksPlan,

the topic of German propaganda at that time is extremely difficult, especially online.

From my own, and bad experience, I hold back very much with this, surely it is better that way.
I have shown posters from my collection on the Internet, many years ago. I don't do that anymore today.

As a collector of this horrible propaganda, you are vulnerable within minutes, you are virtually spat upon.
I don't expose myself to all that anymore, it doesn't make sense anymore.

It is comparable to the historical photos, that showed unspeakable atrocities committed by German soldiers.
I wouldn't post those photos today, anywhere.
The respect for the victims of that time simply forbids it, that's all it is.

I don't write about details, just thinking about these photos, it becomes too much.

Frieden!


Hans
Es ist im Leben wichtig, viel zu wissen.
Manchmal ist es noch wichtiger, zu wissen, daß man nichts weiß.

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Aug 2021 22:50

@Hans1906 de gustibus non est disputandem. I revised my point from "good" to "important" to avoid matters of taste. I've given my opinion whether I like Nazi art, don't hold it against you if you find some aesthetic appeal in it.
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by GregSingh » 03 Aug 2021 03:20

de gustibus non est disputandem
Funny you mentioned that!

In a German satirical magazine from early 1940 we can find this no doubt equivocal statement:

Feb1940.jpg

There was a time when we went to exhibitions and discussed, whether it is art that is hanging there, or the biggest crap, or whether it is skillful or routine or "peinture". We are now relieved of such discussions. What's hanging is art and that's it!
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by GregSingh » 09 Aug 2021 10:03

If you are an art lover, there are at least three movies from Nazi times, you should watch, in my opinion:
Münchhausen, directed by Josef von Baky
Unter den Brücken, directed by Helmut Käutner
Rembrandt, directed by Hans Steinhoff
The more you let yourself to go, the less others will let you to go.
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Hans1906 » 09 Aug 2021 19:24

Greg,

if you like to look at "modern" works, try a search for Herbert Smagon.
Already as a child Smagon had to experience the oppression of the German minority himself. His father, a socio-political spokesman for the Germans, was sentenced to prison. When German schools had to be closed because more and more German children were prevented from attending school by brutal attacks by Czechs, the family fled to Berlin. From the age of 10 Smagon grew up in Berlin, from the age of 14 until the end of the war in Vienna. His grandfather, a lithographer and illustrator, noticed the child's artistic talent very early. From 1939 to 1942, at the age of 12, Smagon began studying painting as a private student of Professor Aschenbrenner, in addition to his war service as an air force helper. In 1943, at the age of 16, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and studied with Professor Herbert Böckl. In 1944, at the age of 17, he was awarded the Youth Art Medal in Vienna, and his works were exhibited at the Vienna Hofburg. He painted his award-winning work "LUFTWAFFENHELFER" (Air Force Helper) mounted on a barracks wall during breaks in operations in his flak position - repeatedly interrupted by defensive battles at his heavy 8.8 anti-aircraft gun against the onslaught of Allied terrorist bomber attacks. The Stadtholder of Vienna, former R eichsjugend leader B aldur von S chirach, invited the young Smagon for a talk in his official residence in the Vienna Parliament. Above his desk hung the picture "LUFTWAFFENHELFER." With Smagon's consent, the leadership of the H itler Youth had given the painting to the Stadthalter, who wanted to make Vienna the art center of the German Reich in competition with Berlin and Munich. S chirach offered the young artist further art studies with the best professors and guaranteed him lifelong mentoring sponsorship from the city of Vienna.
The above quote is not reliable.
His works are rampant, everywhere, a huge pile of shit, and not just since yesterday.
A mountain of shit everywhere online.

Herbert Smagon, just the online search for pictures:

https://www.google.com/search?q=herbert ... 00&bih=759


Hans

Ignorance, stupidity, and delusion, all go hand in hand even today, unfortunately.
P.S. Hosted by "Users" in this forum, enough written.

It is still in the nature of the thing at that time to feel such a thing good, or bad, as almost always.
My little conscience speaks:
"You may eat and drink everything, but not know everything!".
Es ist im Leben wichtig, viel zu wissen.
Manchmal ist es noch wichtiger, zu wissen, daß man nichts weiß.

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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 Aug 2021 06:41

GregSingh wrote:
09 Aug 2021 10:03
If you are an art lover, there are at least three movies from Nazi times, you should watch, in my opinion:
Münchhausen, directed by Josef von Baky
Unter den Brücken, directed by Helmut Käutner
Rembrandt, directed by Hans Steinhoff
Thanks!
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Re: Is there any good Nazi art?

Post by Br. James » 11 Aug 2021 17:05

"Is there any good Nazi art?" "Good" is the result of a subjective opinion on the part of the observer/judge. For example, artists who produced works during the Impressionist, Modernist and related art periods are often seen as "good" -- names such as Picasso, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Matisse, etc. come readily to mind -- and whether or not I personally enjoy their work is irrelevant to their being accepted by society as "good" artists. So, in response to the question at hand, I would say that, to my understanding, there were "many talented artists" who produced many works during the Third Reich and NSDAP era...whether those works were "good for the society of their time" is very much another question!

And indeed, a number of those same artists who served the Nazi culture of the 1920s-1940s continued to produce works accepted as "good" after the collapse of the NSDAP in 1945.

Br. James

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