Exhibition catalog: “Art for no one 1933 – 1945” | – Culture

Status: 15/05/2022 06:00 am

“Art for Nobody” is the title of an exhibition that will be on view until June 6 at the Schirn Art Gallery in Frankfurt. The no less exciting catalog accompanies the illuminating show.

by Martina Kothe

This art refers to those works that were created between 1933 and 1945 and that should not interest anyone because their creators did not fit into the Nazi worldview. The catalog is worth seeing for anyone who is unable to attend the same exhibition or who wants to discover little-known artists.

It works on fear, mistrust and despair

They are painters, sculptors, photographers and illustrators. You don’t want to leave Germany for very personal reasons. There are 14 life and work stories.

Curator and editor Ilka Voermann talks about ambivalence and shades of gray in the presentation of the exhibition. Many artists of that time did not want or could not stop working, and are not recognized by the “Reichskulturkammer” or anything: “The questions were very important: are you Aryan? Is your spouse Aryan? Was he politically active before? 1933? “These were the most important criteria that excluded artists from the Kulturkammer. In fact, art itself, artistic expression, played a subordinate role.”

The artist Lea Grundig, who later became a professor of graphics at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, was persecuted in two ways: she was Jewish and a communist. After his second arrest in 1938, he escaped to Palestine. In his memorable series of copper engravings “Unterm Hakenkreuz” and “Threatened War” he shows fear, distrust and despair.

Resistant and conformist artists

The volume not only features resilient artists, but also those who adapt to be able to exhibit at least a little. With Otto Dix. He, who had so clearly painted the horrors of World War I, retired to Lake Constance and painted landscapes. By then he had lost his chair in Dresden.

Another painter, Karl Hofer, openly opposed National Socialism in newspaper articles, but divorced his Jewish wife in 1938. She was assassinated in Auschwitz four years later.

Touching cage faces

Well, always double lines form a head. They look like wires or threads, bend and twist, and yet they are as stiff as the strange bird cages. From the back of the head, the black threads go to the forehead and turn into the nose, curl around the eyes and pass gently around the neck and chest. An armor, a frame for which you can still reach.

Hans Uhlmann, a professed communist and founder of metal sculpture in Germany, drew these strangely touching cage faces in prison in 1934/35. “Heads, braids, beards, curls and busts made of wire,” he calls the collection or “Tegel’s heads.” As soon as he got out of jail, he implemented the drafts. Between 1935 and 1942 he created more than 40 heads with iron bars, iron or zinc sheets.

Art and life in extreme times

After his imprisonment, Hans Uhlmann lives in a “spiritual opposition”. Ilka Voermann finds this term difficult, as well as the slogan “desecrated” or the word “internal emigration”: “Often the terms are associated with an attitude of resistance and artistic resistance. An attitude that we rarely have because it is a which brings together a lot of artists who stayed here in Germany. It’s not that easy to determine, or if they had an attitude, it’s very difficult to read it just from the works. “

Nothing is just black or white, of course, not in art either. As we know at the latest from Emil Nolde, it cannot be assumed that the artists who had a very difficult time under the National Socialists were in fact against the regime.

The book changes something in the reader, in the viewer. He creates closeness with the portraits, through his art and their lives in extreme times.

Art for no one 1933 – 1945

by Ilka Voermann (ed.)

Page number:
296 pages
photo book
Additional information:
220 color illustrations
Order number:
€ 49.90

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NDR Culture | 15/05/2022 | 4:20 p.m.

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