MONOCULTURE – Nazi propaganda exhibitions


One of the most striking historical examples of ideological monoculture in the cultural field was of ‘entartete kunst’ (‘degenerate art’) in Nazi Germany. Holding up the modernist avant-garde, or in fact anything that didn’t fit the narrow ethno-centric definition of German art and culture, was considered as an aberration.

In his book, which was a major inspiration for Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, Wolfgang Willrich gives a negative overview of modern art in Germany, viciously attacking such prominent modernist artists as Barlach, Dix, Grosz, Heckel, Nolde, Schmidt-Rottluff and others whose work fell victim to subsequent confiscation and elimination. Published in 1938, a year after the opening of the Entartete Kunst exhibition, the book of Adolf Dresler is a typical example of Nazi criticism of modernist art, with expressionist and abstract works being juxtaposed with politically favourable German ('Deutsche') works. The artworks condemned by the author were selected from the list of 'degenerate artworks' presented at the infamous exhibition. Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung (The Great German Art Exhibition) took place eight times from 1937 to 1944 at the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich. The exhibition was propagated as the most important cultural event in Nazi Germany and the main representative of art under National Socialism. Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) was the largest pre-war anti-Semitic exhibition, which was intended to represent a supposed Jewish attempt at bolshevising Nazi Germany.

Items View all