London’s 1938 protest exhibition against Nazi ‘degenerate art’ campaign reproduced in Berlin

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

By Alex Stuart In response to the Nazi campaign to bastardise art they deemed to be ‘degenerate’ (mostly expressionist works), the New Burlington Galleries in London held an exhibition called ‘Defending ‘Degenerate’ German Art’ in 1938. The exhibition celebrated 300 works including paintings by Kokoschka, Kandinsky, Klee, Nolde and Beckmann. It was supposed to mock and reject ‘Entartete Kunst’, a Nazi propaganda exhibition of works by these artists which ran the previous year. ‘Entartete Kunst’ juxtaposed expressionist works with those of schizophrenic patients and depreciatory slogans in an attempt to debase modernism.

London wasn’t actually ready for the carnal themes of expressionism. Martin Faass, curator of the Liebermann Villa tells how visitors were apprehensive: “When they saw the London show, many people reportedly said they couldn’t agree with Hitler on most things, but they sided with him when it came to modern art!” Luckily, the Liebermann Villa gallery are giving it another chance to impress 80 years later, with 30 of the original works from London reunited for an “exhibition of an exhibition” in Berlin. Or an exhibition of an exhibition of an exhibition? If you find yourself in Berlin, it’s running until 14th January.


More info here.

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