Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Part Two of the Illimitable Power of Art...

In my last blog I discussed the strange but real connection that Adolf Hitler possessed in connection with Man's art; all beginning in his being denied admission as a student to the Vienna Institute of Fine Art twice, primarily and seemingly,  due to his inability to draw the human figure, which begot the genesis of the tortured, horrific  reality of Adolf Hitler, and the lurid reality that a portion of the nature of our existence in the 21st century, at least in part, remains with and within us, due to the 12 year Odyssey of Hitlerism.
Much, to be sure, has been written, and continues to be written  about this man. The primary reason for my bringing his memory back for the moment is, for me, strange irony germane to this man and Man's art.
For one, the art exhibit he  created back in 1937, visited by millions for the four months it existed, called Entartete Kunst (degenerate art), consisted of works of art which he considered dangerous and inflammatory; works of art, many by geniuses representing Expressionism, such as Picasso, Kokoschka, Kirchner, Dix, Kollwitz, and a host of others who have given us a number of works which are part of  the indestructible legacy  in the arts we call Great.
The irony that strikes me comes out of Expressionism, which Hitler hated -  that  powerful period coming out of the early 20th century that depicts the inner world of  the mind and its workings, rather than the outer world that the eye can behold. Many  of the powerful paintings and sketches created by the Expressionists depict the darker side of the human condition, with War as one of the primary sources as subject. Just look at Kathe Kollwitz and some of her work; or, Otto Dix; or Ernst Kirchner, just to name a few. The brutality and ugliness of the dark side will confront your senses - how about Guernica by Picasso, and its immortal statement about the horror and futility of War?
And Adolf Hitler, who  became one of history's most successful instigators of horror and pillage, railed in the most vehement manner against the powerful statements of Expressionism, calling them elemental threats to human sensibility and to the culture he represented.
In the exhibit he produced in 1937, he had a number of these works actually hung upside down, or at awkward angles and without frames, accompanied by various forms of graffiti scrawled on the walls of the gallery.
From my humble view, it seems to me that Hitler demonstrates his fear of the Artist, perhaps feeling that there would be no way to bend him into the shape that conformed to the ways of his thoughts and beliefs - but, NEVER admitting that reality to himself.
It is, perhaps, too easy to simply reason that Hitler did not understand the art he hated; especially when history certifies that he represented more efficiently, perhaps, better than anybody else, save Stalin,  in  modern history, the very subject we see so often in a great number of the works of the Expressionists.
Is there a greater mystery than the person we see staring back at us in a mirror?...

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