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Major exhibition contrasts Modern masterpieces with official art of the Third Reich
Adolf Ziegler (1892-1959), The Four Elements: Fire (left wing), Earth and Water (center panel), Air (right wing), 1937. Oil on canvas, 66 7/8 x 106 ¼ in. (170 x 270 cm). Pinakothek der Moderne, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich. Photo: bpk, Berlin/Art Resource, NY.
NEW YORK, NY.- On March 13, 2014, Neue Galerie New York opened the exhibition "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937." This is the first major U.S. museum exhibition devoted to the infamous display of modern art by the Nazis since the 1991 presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Neue Galerie show is organized by board member Dr. Olaf Peters, a professor of Art History in Halle. Dr. Peters, a distinguished scholar and historian, curated the 2010 Neue Galerie exhibition on Otto Dix. "Degenerate Art" is being shown on the second and third floor galleries of the museum, and includes approximately 50 paintings and sculptures, 30 works on paper and several posters, as well as photographs and other memorabilia. The Neue Galerie is the sole venue for this show, where it will be on view through June 30, 2014.

The term "degenerate" was adopted by the National Socialist regime as part of its campaign against modern art. Many works branded as such by the Nazis were seized from museums and private collections. Following the showing on these works in a three-year traveling exhibition that criss-crossed Germany and Austria, most were sold, lost, or presumed destroyed. In this light, the recent discovery in Munich of the Gurlitt trove of such artwork has attracted considerable attention. The film "Monuments Men," directed by George Clooney and which opened in February 2014, indicates the level of popular interest in the subject.

Highlights of the show include a number of works shown in Munich in the summer of 1937, such as Max Beckmann’s Cattle in a Barn (1933); George Grosz's Portrait of Max Hermann-Neisse (1925); Erich Heckel's Barbershop (1913); Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Winter Landscape in Moonlight (1919), The Brücke-Artists (1926/27); Paul Klee's The Angler (1921), The Twittering Machine (1922), and Ghost Chamber with the Tall Door (1925); Oskar Kokoschka's The Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac (1910); Ewald Mataré's Lurking Cat (1928); Karel Niestrath's Hungry Girl (1925); Emil Nolde's Still-Life with Wooden Figure (1911), Red-Haired Girl (1919), and Milk Cows (1913); Christian Rohlf's The Towers of Soest (ca. 1916) and Acrobats (ca. 1916); Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's Pharisees (1912); and Lasar Segall's The Eternal Wanderers (1919), among others. One room contrasts so-called "Degenerate Art" with officially sanctioned art of the period, including works shown at the 1937 "Great German Art Exhibition" in Munich, such as Adolf Ziegler's triptych The Four Elements (1937), owned by Adolf Hitler.

The Neue Galerie exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue published by Prestel Verlag. The publication provides a complete historical overview of the period and examines not only the genesis of the "Degenerate Art" show but also the rise of the topic "degenerate." Additional essays examine the National Socialist policy on art, the treatment of "Degenerate Art" in film, and the impact of this campaign in post-war Germany, and the world at large, as the claims of restitution arose. Dr. Olaf Peters serves as the catalogue editor, which features contributions from scholars Bernhard Fulda, Ruth Heftrig, Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, Karsten Müller, Olaf Peters, Jonathan Petropoulos, Ernst Ploil, Ines Schlenker, Aya Soika, and Karl Stamm.





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