Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Degenerate Art at Neue Galerie

I've been a frequent visitor to the wonderful Neue Galerie (gallery for German and Austrian art) and have always enjoyed their shows and made many discoveries.  But as much as I've loved their shows, there's never been any kind of excitement in any of their exhibition.

However, their new show is taking over New York like a blitzkrieg.  It's called "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937". 

There are two parts to this show - the first is the art that Hitler and the Nazis felt was degenerate, like Kandinsky, Otto Dix, George Grasz, Paul Klee and others.  The second part is Hitler's favorite art - and it's very enlightening to see the two styles side by side.  There were some wonderful revelations I had based on the work of artists like Ernest Bulbach, Emile Noble and Felix Nussbaum.

But the most curious thing to me was that a couple of the works by Nazi-accepted artists were quite nice.  It was very commercial, of course.  It could have been done by Norman Rockwell or NC Wyeth.  I liked it because it told a story, and technically the draftsmanship was excellent.  Very populist.

In fact, I found some of the "accepted" art more engaging than the banned art.  But for me, the coolest thing was the exposing of the Nazi regime's whole idea that artwork deemed not acceptable to the Fuehrer should be slandered and destroyed, and the artists responsible should either be forced to emigrate, or be killed.

And since I'm now working on a film about Hitler - and many people tell me that it's box-office poison to do that, I'm delighted to see how the name "Hitler" brings in mobs of people.  I believe that audiences love to see evil and sinister personalities, and that's why I believe my "Hitler" documentary will be a success.

Every time I do a show, people ask me what my next project will be.  I tell them about the Hitler film and the audience becomes fascinated, and they persist in asking questions about the upcoming film. 

So, if you live in the NYC area, definitely check out the Degenerate Art exhibition.  I give it an A-, but only because the show is too small.

Bill P.

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