The 16,000 Artworks the Nazis Censored and Labeled “Degenerate Art”: The Complete Historic Inventory Is Now Online

The Nazis may not have known art, but they knew what they liked, and much more so what they did­n’t. We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture the “Degen­er­ate Art Exhi­bi­tion” of 1937, put on by Hitler’s par­ty four years after it rose to pow­er. Fol­low­ing on a show of only Nazi-approved works — includ­ing many depic­tions of clas­si­cal­ly Ger­man­ic land­scapes, robust sol­diers in action, blonde nudes — it toured the coun­try with the intent of reveal­ing to the Ger­man peo­ple the “insult to Ger­man feel­ing” com­mit­ted by Entartete Kun­st (Degen­er­ate art), a Nazi-defined cat­e­go­ry of art cre­at­ed by the likes of Paul Klee, Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky, Max Beck­mann, George Grosz, and oth­ers, a ros­ter heavy on the abstract, the expres­sion­is­tic, and the Jew­ish.

Now, thanks to the Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um, we know exact­ly which works of art the Nazis con­demned. “The V&A holds the only known copy of a com­plete inven­to­ry of ‘Entartete Kun­st’ con­fis­cat­ed by the Nazi regime from pub­lic insti­tu­tions in Ger­many, most­ly dur­ing 1937 and 1938,” says the muse­um’s site.

“The list of more than 16,000 art­works was pro­duced by the Reichsmin­is­teri­um für Volk­saufk­lärung und Pro­pa­gan­da (Reich Min­istry for Pub­lic Enlight­en­ment and Pro­pa­gan­da) in 1942 or there­abouts. It seems that the inven­to­ry was com­piled as a final record, after the sales and dis­pos­als of the con­fis­cat­ed art had been com­plet­ed in the sum­mer of 1941.”

You can read and down­load the entire doc­u­ment, which pro­vides “cru­cial infor­ma­tion about the prove­nance, exhi­bi­tion his­to­ry and fate of each art­work,” in PDF form at the V&A’s page about it.

Daunt­ing though the inven­to­ry itself may seem, Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Jil­lian Stein­hauer points out “a way to con­nect many of these pieces to the present day: an online data­base main­tained by the Freie Uni­ver­sität Berlin. You can plug an artwork’s inven­to­ry num­ber from the Nazi log books direct­ly into their search engine, and it will pull up a record.” Here you see Max Beck­man­n’s Zwei Auto-Offiziere, El Lis­sitzky’s Proun R.V.N. 2, and Paul Klee’s Garten der Lei­den­schaft, just three exam­ples of the thou­sands upon thou­sands of images that Hitler and com­pa­ny con­sid­ered a threat to their regime. Today, the artis­tic mer­its of work by these and oth­er artists once labeled Entartete Kun­st have drawn more admir­ers than ever — though the very fact that the Nazis did­n’t like it con­sti­tutes a decent rea­son for appre­ci­a­tion as well.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Nazi’s Philis­tine Grudge Against Abstract Art and The “Degen­er­ate Art Exhi­bi­tion” of 1937

How the CIA Secret­ly Fund­ed Abstract Expres­sion­ism Dur­ing the Cold War

The Nazis’ 10 Con­trol-Freak Rules for Jazz Per­form­ers: A Strange List from World War II

Joseph Stal­in, a Life­long Edi­tor, Wield­ed a Big, Blue, Dan­ger­ous Pen­cil

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.