guilty by juxtaposition

A peculiar combination of context and coincidence.A new aesthetic discourse in Nazi representation. Is there an aesthetics of fascism? Rudolf Herz is the artist who took the seemingly incongruous combination of Hitler and Marcel Duchamp and combined the two in a photomontage. It was based on the idea Heinrich Hoffman’s portrait of Duchamp in 1912 and later becoming the official photographer of Hitler. Is there a connection? Is this an apparent mutual celebration of nihilism, something along the lines of Walter Benjamin’s assertion or merely the random coincidence of a new contexts:

Kuspit:"Incidentally, I'd like to say one last thing to defend myself about what looks like mockery — artists as cowards — you know, the art world as cowards. There is a famous incident … there was a Dadaist happening in Germany and … I believe there was one of the events where one of the Dadaists went and took all the money and invited people to a lecture and didn't give the lecture — took the money and made some mockery. They were brought into court — this is documented, okay. They were brought into court — some famous Dadaist, and they were trembling, trembling — brought into court and the judge said to them, ‘How do you explain the fact that you stole all the people's money?' Then he looked at them trembling and said, ‘Oh, you're artists, you were artists. Oh, okay. Case dismissed.'" click image for more...

…The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values. All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. Read More:

The interpretations of Herz’s pieces were not uniform. Does it represent the individuation of fascism in which Duchamp’s art is an example of commodity fetish in the service of consumerism motoring on over a road paved with the flimsiest of concepts not to mention ideals. A nihilistic abandon as commercial force not unlike Lady Gaga which seems to reinforce white male patriarchy and the established hierarchy and pecking order.

Donald Kuspit: “I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist, wasn’t he? I just wanted to say that I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist and so was Hitler, and Duchamp was a fetish object, as Hitler is. And a lot of art historians, there are a whole group of art historians who click their intellectual heels and make the Duchamp salute these days. They are both fairly disruptive figures. I think Duchamp was an extremely disruptive influence on art, despite the rationalization of it as, quote, conceptual and so forth. So I think it is a wonderful and actually rather insightful connection to put Hitler and Duchamp together.”

---The linkage between the fascism that Benjamin equated Marinetti's Futurist aesthetic and dictums with, and fascism as is understood in 2011 has stark breaks, which are united primarily in their failure to individuate fascism which, sine qua non, is a cultural force comprised of multiple actors inhabiting their own subjectivity.... click image for more

Eliott Barowitz:I was puzzled about the work and asked for clarification. In my short discourse I said I thought that the juxtaposition of Duchamp with Hitler was bizarre, and I suggested (tongue in cheek) that it might have been appropriate to also include a photograph of Lee Miller since Man Ray (who had become the (un)official photographer of Duchamp) also photographed Miller. Plus, Lee Miller, who reportedly bathed in Hitler’s tub, was one of the subjects of a presentation by Carol Zemel of the State University of New York, Buffalo. In her discussion of the so-called liberation photographs by Margaret Bourke-White and Miller, Zemel suggested that the two women’s photographs tended to “anesthetize and aestheticize” the Holocaust. I could not agree more and I indeed feel that Herz’s Zugzwang “anesthetizes and aestheticizes” Hitler. Read More:


---Mass suicides that created a sensation were those of Leipzig burgomaster’s family, that was captured by Margaret Bourke-White and Lee Miller. The photos showed a different approach between this two great female war-photographers. Bourke-White, a meticulous observer as always, kept her distance from the tragedy, even taking photos from the gallery above. Miller moved in closer; a fashion photographer covering the war for Vogue, Miller’s photo of the body of burgomaster’s daughter was almost a fashion shoot of a wax mannequin — her Nazi armband immaculately displayed, her lips parted as if waiting for a true love’s kiss that would revive her.---- click image for more

By the same measure, would the recurrence of linkages of one sort or another between Hitler and Kafka throughout “Hitler studies” be equally out of place or provocative. In addition to the D. M. Thomas character’s conjecture about the kinship of Kafka and Hitler as artists of the unthinkable and the unbearable, many have invoked Kafka as a prophet, seen the absurd logic of the death camps foreshadowed in “In the Penal Colony” and The Trial, and wondered whether only a Kafkaesque universe can explain the nightmare world Hitler made flesh…

Ron Rosenbaum:Still, some of the little details and correspondences are striking. George Steiner, who, as we’ll see, believes in some metaphysical sense that Kafka invented Hitler or at least Hitler’s concentration-camp universe, points out, on a smaller scale, that Ungeziefer, the word Kafka used to describe the insect into which Gregor Samsa metamorphosed, is a favorite word of Hitler’s, one he used to characterize the “vermin” of Europe, the Jews he wanted to exterminate like unwanted insects. But Binion was the first to apprise me of the very peculiar fact–meaningless except in a Kafkaesque way–that

an named Kafka once lived in Hitler’s house….A coincidence certainly, but the Hitler-Kafka connections go deeper than happenstance. Were it not for Binion’s Hitler explanation and the attack on it by a descendant of Kafka, the world might never have known that the Jewish doctor who treated Hitler’s mother was a relative of Franz Kafka.

Is there something more to the link than these accidents of fate? Read More:


For Walter Benjamin, Marxism and its foundational base of political economic equality of welfare would under cut all that. Marxist art would keep Fascist art at bay. Nevertheless, I think there remains some doubt whether choosing to politicize art in this manner serves to do something greater than to only short circuit a move toward Fascist art. Walter Benjamin demonstrated how a drawing in signs does a different thing than a painting in marks; how the way in which we conceive of a work determines the manner of its consumption. He intimated the ways in which painting and photography that dealt with the real problems and real spaces in which contemporary men lived their hard fought lives was superior to action art that fed the inner genius. Nevertheless, once the artist settles upon his politicized art, he find himself one step removed from the fundamental problem: though he has an answer to the question, why create art, he is still undone by the question of how to create art? This question cannot be answered by relying on some deterministic concept of politicized aesthetics. Read More:

Read More:
“I have never seen a boy so ineffably saddened,” Bloch would say later. Adolf’s suffering was intense. And transformative, Binion believes: “Hitler’s experience of his mother’s last illness,” Binion concludes, “looms behind his later tireless diatribes against ‘the Jewish cancer,’ the ‘Jewish poison,’ the Jewish profiteer.’”

Gottfried Helnwein, fotografia de Sol Níger, 1987.Read More:

He cites telling examples from Hitler’s rhetoric of the spectral presence of his mother’s medical trauma: “How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus!… [The Jews are] poisonous abscesses eating into the nation…an endless stream of poison…being driven by a mysterious power into the outermost blood vessels” of the body politic.

Binion deals with the obvious objection to this theory–Hitler’s profusions of gratefulness to Bloch at the time, the singular protection he extended to Bloch when he absorbed Austria in 1938, the “undying gratitude” Bloch himself later described as Hitler s attitude toward him–by insisting that “consciously Hitler bore Bloch no grudges” because he was both traumatized and knew himself to be implicated in the “order to burn out the abscesses…to the raw flesh” of his mother.

But while the trauma had buried his resentment at the Jewish doctor deep in his unconscious, it festered and metastasized there, Binion insists. “Abusing ‘the Jew’” in his speeches, Binion maintains, “was for Hitler a means of abusing Bloch.” Murdering the Jews in the camps was the ultimate outcome. Read More:


Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>