Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Der Berliner Skulpturenfund “Entartete Kunst” im Bombenschutt. Berlin, Neues Museum. By craniv boyd.

Der Berliner Skulpturenfund "Entartete Kunst" im Bombenschutt. Berlin, Neues Museum. By craniv boyd.

The Germans are known for their history. Recent events and developments of property in "mitte" the most central of Berlin's locations have uncovered an archaeological find of sorts. Several small sculptures were found in the debris of a plot of land known as Konigstrasse 50. Experts were able to identify the work as art confiscated by the Nazis. The art works were part of the Degenerate art exhibition a traveling exhibition the Nazis mounted during their regime. These rediscovered sculptures were cleaned up and placed in a hall of the Neues Museum.

What kinds of art can survive the bombing of the allied forces during World War Two? What happens to art after it is covered by brick apartment building knocked over by a bomb? What happens to art after it is buried in obscurity and during the course of its entombment it bears witness to three regime changes from Fascism to Communism to Euro Democracy. Sculpture. The small statues survived, all of the paintings burned up when the bomb hit in the 1940's.

The Nazis took these art works from the artists who made them and put them in a traveling propaganda show against modernism and expressionism in art. They used the sculptures as props and set decoration in their moralistic propaganda narrative films at some point the Nazis hid the artwork in a storage space that was later hit by a bomb. For many years these statues were believed lost.  

The work in the exhibition is so small and delicate, so harmless and so personal it makes one wonder what possible threat the Nazis could have seen in work like this. Why make all the fuss about confiscating and demonizing and storing artwork. It makes no scene to place all of these "Degenerate" art works in an exhibition and then show this work to people all over Nazi Germany? If they didn't want people to know about degenerate artwork who not just ignore it?

What can be so threatening about a small Terra cotta sculpture of a clothed pregnant woman? Why confiscate a stylized portrait of a young actress? Is it because the portrait is showing no ears and no hairline of the one portrayed? It is strange to think that the Nazis who murdered and terrified so many would be afraid of an expressionist representation of a mother holding a baby weighing less that 15 kilos and being less that half a meter tall. 

Deeply saddened by the oppression of artists by the Nazis, powerfully encouraged by the lasting communicative power of art objects themselves. Stunned by the quiet strength of works lost for decades and found again. Inspired by the simplicity of the small statues that survived. Touched by the magic of personal artistic expression. Thrilled at the uncovering of these works, the care and attention given to preserving, restoring, celebrating, discussing and displaying these works. The public discussion of the "Entartete Kunst" exhibition ensuing from the surprising recovery of lost works from that show. By craniv boyd.

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