escape to the clumsy arrangements

The aesthetization of political understanding. After all, kitsch is the dominant culture, almost the only culture. Its effects are characterized by immediacy, an ingratiating nature,a form devoid of ambiguity and a cuteness marked by superficiality. Sometimes however, and somewhat disconcertingly, the avant-garde sometimes has more in common with kitsch art than one might normally associate, especially when the avant-garde stops questioning the nature of reality and ceases to believe in the creative imagination, closing the gap, like kitsch, between reality and perception.

A kind of evil, an intruder, an aesthetic violation, a perverted abuse within what could be called the long history of the value-system of art. Kitsch is the predominance of form over content and as Herman Broch said, attempting to achieve a beauty instead of truth, where the sublime and the spiritual is negated by opposing values of self-congatulation, false emotion, pretense, complacency and in effect, the glorification and reinforcement of inertia.One is reminded of Clement Greenberg’s distinction between avant-garde art and kitsch – that, while the avant-garde imitates the processes of art, kitsch imitates its effects.

---"Das größere Opfer" (the bigger sacrifice). Oil painting by Adolf Reich, 1943. --- Read More:

From the Leo Baeck Institute: Images documenting the Nazi-sponsored Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung (GDK) have been made available to the public for the first time in an online catalogue created by Munich’s Central Institute for Art History. More than 100,000 photographs, categorised by artist, genre, theme and, remarkably, buyer, have shed new light on the annual art exhibition, giving an insight into officially approved art of the Third Reich and the collecting taste of its citizens.

---Even today, the pretentious sculptures of heroic men and women by Arno Breker are still classed as the epitome of the National Socialist aesthetic - along with many other paintings, drawings and prints which aggrandize Nazi ideology. After the beginning of the Second World War, visitors to the exhibition could also view pictures of marching or fighting soldiers, said Christian Fuhrmeister. "Such works existed, but they were 10 to 30 pictures from 1800. Essentially, all genres were represented that would appeal to bourgeois and petit-bourgeois tastes which had dominated since the late 19th century," he explained. That included landscapes, still lifes or pictures of animals.--- Read More:

“When we started working with the photographs, we realised there was a difference between what the secondary literature has told us about the exhibition and what it was actually like,” says Christian Fuhrmeister, an art historian from the Central Institute. According to Fuhrmeister, previous research relied on exhibition catalogues that listed works but failed to reproduce them….

---Edmund Steppes Title Daphnis und Chloe Medium Tempera on Canvas Size 47.2 x 39 in. / 120 x 99 cm. Year 1940 - 1941 Read More:

…Of the 1,200 to 1,800 objects on display at the exhibition each year, only 50 to 60 works were documented through black and white photographs, “which is a reason why research has stressed the aspect of propaganda, race, and National Socialist ideology”, Fuhrmeister says. Such themes were apparent in some of the exhibited works, but the vast majority of the 40 rooms were filled with landscapes, still-lifes and genre paintings. “Our view that such art is fairly uniform cannot be upheld because there is, in fact, no clear-cut image,” says Fuhrmeister. “It is rather just a clumsy arrangement of petit bourgeois art.”

---Images documenting the Nazi-sponsored Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung (GDK) have been made available to the public for the first time in an online catalogue created by Munich’s Central Institute for Art History. More than 100,000 photographs, categorised by artist, genre, theme and, remarkably, buyer, have shed new light on the annual art exhibition, giving an insight into officially approved art of the Third Reich and the collecting taste of its citizens. --- Read More:

The photographs had been languishing in albums at the Central Institute for decades. However, in 2004, researchers from the centre teamed up with Haus der Kunst in Munich and Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin to start cataloguing and digitising the collection. The Historisches Museum, which owns more than 700 works bought by Hitler, filled some of the gaps in the collection.

The database reveals that Hitler was the best customer at the shows, spending more than 7 million reichsmark on 1,312 works over the years. Some of his acquisitions were surprising. For example, he bought Paladine des Pan by Edmund Steppes, which shows a

corn and a squirrel looking across a landscape. Fuhrmeister says: “Steppes was not a true surrealist but he did have some relation to Max Ernst, who, of course, was considered a degenerate artist.” The art historian believes that landscapes and genre paintings were prized under National Socialism because of their apolitical nature. “Viewers entered another world when they came to the exhibition, with little reminder of the bombs dropping around them,” he says.

---The title of this painting by Paul Padua, dated 1939, is “The Führer Speaks.” The family from old to young is gathered round the Volksempfänger, an inexpensive radio receiver, listening to Hitler speak. His picture is on the wall. The religious parallels are rather plain. Source: Hans Hagemeyer, Gestalt und Wandel des Reiches (Berlin: Im Propyläen Verlag, 1944). --- Read More:

The GDK took place every summer from 1937 to 1944 at the Haus der Deutschen Kunst in Munich (now the Haus der Kunst).Read More:


It was not the young German muscle-bound men or buxom blond women with blue eyes which dominated the art exhibition, but the countless grotesquely banal, even Biedermeier-style works.

Hitler’s concept of “beautiful” art reveals itself to be regressive, petit-bourgeois and in bad taste.

At the same time, the newly published photographs of the exhibitions raise new questions for Christian Fuhrmeister in relation to the appraisal of Nazi art: Can a landscape painting be political? Or how can a cosy, homeland scene be distinguished from one depicting a Blood and Soil ideology?

The research project and online archive deliver the impetus to find new answers to these questions.

Author: Klaus Gehrke / Helen Whittle Read More:

Adolf Reich---Kunst und Naturfreund--- Read More:

the novelist Milan Kundera in his meditation on the concept of kitsch in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (trans., London, 1984). Kundera characterized kitsch as calling forth ‘the second tear’. The first tear is shed out of pity; the second is shed in recognition of the feeling of pity. It is essentially self-congratulatory. According to Kulka (1988), the standard kitsch work must be instantly identifiable as depicting ‘an object or theme which is generally considered to be beautiful or highly charged with stock emotions’, even though it ‘does not substantially enrich our associations related to the depicted subject’. The impact of kitsch is therefore limited to reminding the viewer of great works of art, deep emotions or grand philosophic, religious or patriotic sentiments. Read More:

….Read More:

Schad. Michele Cone:Old Master finish, an eerily airless deep space, and graphic attention to figurative details, was unheimlichkeit. Analyzed by Freud in 1919, unheimlichkeit applies to situations wherein the familiar and the ominously strange are represented by the same form. All of these traits were dangerously close to those found in the style of painting that was later to appeal to Adolph Hitler. As pointed out by Linda Nochlin after she visited the Pompidou exhibition "Les Ralismes," in which both styles were represented, "certainly the realism of the '20s was different from that of the '30s. . . . Even so, the borderlines between what one might call acceptable national versions of realism and perversions of the style is not always clear-cut." But, she rightly concludes, "the art of the National Socialist period in Germany does seem to isolate itself from the other realisms in that it travesties rather than reveals the nature of the times."("Return to Order," Art in America, Sept. 1981). It is, she notes, pseudo-unheimlich, another word for "kitsch." While most of Schad's production is too disturbing to fit into the kitsch category, two paintings by him in the show, both dated 1930.

Clement Greenberg, 1939:Where there is an avant-garde, generally we also find a rear-guard. True enough — simultaneously with the entrance of the avant-garde, a second new cultural phenomenon appeared in the industrial West: that thing to which the Germans give the wonderful name of Kitsch: popular, commercial art and literature with their chromeotypes, magazine covers, illustrations, ads, slick and pulp fiction, comics, Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies, etc., etc. For some reason this gigantic apparition has always been taken for granted. It is time we looked into its whys and wherefores.

Kitsch is a product of the industrial revolution which urbanized the masses of Western Europe and America and established what is called universal literacy.

Prior to this the only market for formal culture, as distinguished from folk culture, had been among those who, in addition to being able to read and write, could command the leisure and comfort that always goes hand in hand with cultivation of some sort. This until then had been inextricably associated with literacy. But with the introduction of universal literacy, the ability to read and write became almost a minor skill like driving a car, and it no longer served to distinguish an individual’s cultural inclinations, since it was no longer the exclusive concomitant of refined tastes….

Adolf Reich. Read More:

…The peasants who settled in the cities as proletariat and petty bourgeois learned to read and write for the sake of efficiency, but they did not win the leisure and comfort necessary for the enjoyment of the city’s traditional culture. Losing, nevertheless, their taste for the folk culture whose background was the countryside, and discovering a new capacity for boredom at the same time, the new urban masses set up a pressure on society to provide them with a kind of culture fit for their own consumption. To fill the demand of the new market, a new commodity was devised: ersatz culture, kitsch, destined for those who, insensible to the values of genuine culture, are hungry nevertheless for the diversion that only culture of some sort can provide.

Kitsch, using for raw material the debased and academicized simulacra of genuine culture, welcomes and cultivates this insensibility. It is the source of its profits. Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations. Kitsch changes according to style, but remains always the same. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times. Kitsch pretends to demand nothing of its customers except their money — not even their time….

---Sigmar Polke---Kuspit:Polke's mischievous, sardonic appropriation of the Minimalist grid brings it down to social, indeed, populist earth, knocking the intellectual stuffing -- not to say conceptual pretension -- out of it. No longer are Andre's metal plates high art, but as banal and marketable as Delft tiles, a kitschy people's art. Like Andre's plates, they, too, are factory produced, if without the pretty ornament -- a sad lack of cuteness which makes Andre's puritanical plates look more important than they are. Also, where Andre stereotypes the Suprematist square, so that it becomes an avant-garde cliché, the Delft tiles stereotypes traditional seascapes and coats-of-arms, making them kitsch clichés. The avant-garde Andre and the anonymous designer of Delft kitsch have more in common than one might suppose. Read More:

…The precondition for kitsch, a condition without which kitsch would be impossible, is the availability close at hand of a fully matured cultural tradition, whose discoveries, acquisitions, and perfected self-consciousness kitsch can take advantage of for its own ends. It borrows from it devices, tricks, stratagems, rules of thumb, themes, converts them into a system, and discards the rest. It draws its life blood, so to speak, from this reservoir of accumulated experience. This is what is really meant when it is said that the popular art and literature of today were once the daring, esoteric art and literature of yesterday. Of course, no such thing is true. What is meant is that when enough time has elapsed the new is looted for new “twists,” which are then watered down and served up as kitsch. Self-evidently, all kitsch is academic; and conversely, all that’s academic is kitsch. For what is called the academic as such no longer has an independent existence, but has become the stuffed-shirt “front” for kitsch. The methods of industrialism displace the handicrafts. Read More:

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