Monday, September 4, 2023

How the Art of Gustav Klimt Was Appropriated by the Nazis

 From Open Culture:

On paper, the Nazis shouldn’t have liked Gustav Klimt. As gallerist and Youtuber James Payne says in his new Great Art Explained video above, their denunciatory “Degenerate Art Exhibition” of 1937 included the work of “Paul Klee, Otto Dix, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Piet Mondrian, as well as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka” — but somehow not Klimt, “who, at one time or another, had been described as morally questionable, obscene, or even pornographic, and was friends with Jewish patrons, intellectuals, and artists.” And it isn’t as if the Nazis just ignored his work; in fact, they actively pressed a few of his paintings into the service of their ideology.

The search for those paintings, and thus an answer to the question of how they could have been given a pro-Nazi spin, takes Payne to Vienna (this video being part of his Great Art Cities sub-series). It was there that the 22-year-old Klimt — along with his brother Ernst and their friend Franz Mach — received the career-making commission, straight from the emperor himself, to paint a series of ten historical murals on the ceilings and walls of the city’s storied Burgtheater. This made possible Klimt and Mach’s next major mural project for the University of Vienna, though the former’s contributions were rejected by the officials, and later deliberately destroyed by German forces retreating at the war’s end. (Read more.)


No comments: