Friday, September 29, 2017 – Haus der Kunst Archive.
Three hours after my plane has landed in Munich, I was already meeting with Dr. Sabine Brantl, Haus der Kunst curator and the head of the “Art and Propaganda” archive. I emailed her a list of archival documents that I wanted to consult a week prior to our meeting, and she kindly reserved a reading room for me to study and photograph them. She also gave me a permission to make photographs of the building and the exhibits on display. After discussing my research with Dr. Brantl, she suggested two recent publications on the subject, which I purchased at the HDK bookstore.
- Brantl, Sabine. Haus der Kunst, Munich. A Locality and its History in National Socialism. Munich: Allitera Verlag, 2017
- Düwel, Jörg, and Gutschow, Niels. Baukunst und Nationalsocialismus. Demonstration von Macht in Europa, 1940-1943. Die Ausstellung “Neue Deutsche Baukunst” von Rudolf Wolters. Berlin: DOM Publishers, 2015.
Saturday, September 30, 2017 – Exhibition Artige Kunst. Kunst und Politik im Nationalsozialismus at Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie Regensburg.
The exhibition was conceived by Silke von Berswordt-Wallrabe, Jörg-Uwe Neumann and Agnes Tieze in a way to juxtapose the officially sanctioned artworks from the National Socialist Germany with the avant-garde paintings of the same period by persecuted artists. As stated in the exhibition catalogue that I purchased at the gallery, “the object of the juxtaposition is to foster awareness of historically contemporaneous artworks and the options for deeds and expression available to the artists and, in doing so, to prompt the viewer’s own critical expression. (2017: 195)
- Artige Kunst: Kunst und Politik im Nationalsozialismus [Compliant Art: Art and Politics in the National Socialist Era]. Berlin: Kerber, 2017.
Sunday, October 1, 2017 – Exhibition Vermacht. Verfallen. Verdrängt. Kunst und Nationalsozialismus at Städtliche Galerie Rosenheim.
This exhibition looked at the regional differences in exhibition and patronage practices between “the Capital of German Art” – Munich and a small provincial town – Rosenheim. It documented the donated, displaced and destroyed National Socialist art produced by Rosenheim-based German artists, as well as the gallery’s own history. A total of fifteen works on display at the Städtliche Galerie Rosenheim featured individual buildings, cityscapes and ruins. Following the visit, I have purchased the exhibition catalogue that contains a number of important publication on the subject of compliant art:
- Vermacht. Verfallen. Verdrängt. Kunst und Nationalsozialismus, Städtliche Galerie Rosenheim. Munich: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2017.
Both exhibitions were conceived in a way to expand the focus of academic research from blunt totalitarian propaganda to what Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister and his colleagues from the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (Central Institute for Art History) have called “Artige Kunst” or “compliant art.” That is, artworks and buildings commissioned and promoted by the state, and/or works of artists and architects ideologically associated with the National Socialist regime, that at a cursory level had little to no dogmatic content (e.g. still lives and genre scenes). In my own research, I will be building on these developments, focusing on the genre of architectural representation. Broadly defined, it includes both the technical droughting of buildings (e.g. section, elevation, plan), and traditional figurative landscape paintings that feature architectural structures of any kind.
Monday, October 2, 2017 – Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Archive
On October 2, I met with the head of the Photothek, Ralf Peters, who took me on a tour of ZI’s different research departments, library sections, and archives. The Central Institute for Art History has one of the most important collections of primary and secondary resources from and on the National Socialist period, so I was only able to get a cursory sense of their holdings. I’ve spent the rest of my day at the Photothek, a large physical archive of photos of artworks and buildings from the National Socialist period. I was able to make significant progress on my doctoral research (selecting works for inclusion in my thesis) and will be returning to ZI for a more in-depth study of Photothek’s holdings during my internship in April.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 – Munich’s Kunstreal (the three "Pinakotheken" galleries).
I learned from Ralf Peters that the Pinakothek der Moderne has just opened a new room (Saal 13) on art produced during or in the time directly preceding the period of National Socialism in Germany. As stated in the booklet, once again, “The selection of works varied considerably in quality and style and is not intended as a showcase of established masterpieces but rather aims to provide poignant examples of the possibilities that were available to artists at that time and challenges they faced as well as the interference in their careers under the Nazi regime. The display aims to investigate not only the differences between the categories of ‘Nazi art’ and ‘degenerate art’, but also subsequently the connection between the particular painting styles and political opinions.” Interestingly, out of eleven artworks exhibited in Room 13, four qualify as “architectural representation.”
As for the Alte Pinakothek and the Neue Pinakothek, visiting these two collections of European art allowed me to establish continuities between the seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and the nineteenth-century veduti and capriccio paintings by Italian, French, and German artists and the trends in the National Socialist architectural, such as the utopian imagery of the Party Rally Grounds by a compliant German artist Otto Albert Hirth.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – “NS-Kunst zeigen” (Exhibiting National Socialist art) – Colloquium organized by the Central Institute for Art History.
The conference addressed the current approaches to researching and exhibiting National Socialist art. It started in Room 13 of the Neue Pinakothek with the curator’s talk on the new exhibits by Oliver Kase. It was followed by Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister’s introduction of the Regensburg and the Rosenheim exhibitions, and short statements by students who participated in organizing them. Günther Danks, Helena Perena, Felix Steffan and Agnes Tieze presented on how and why should National Socialist art (and “difficult” heritage in general) be exhibited today. Otto Karl Werckmeisted discussed the conflict between Joseph Goebbels and Alfred Rosenberg as the driving force behind the formulation of the Third Reich’s cultural policy. Mathias Mühling and Olaf Peters addressed the ways “degenerate art” was displayed in the National Socialist Germany and the educational potential of recreating this exhibition today.
After the presentations, I have had an opportunity to interact with some of the most distinguished scholars of totalitarian art, architecture and cultural policy, and discuss my research with Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister. He suggested I return to Munich for a more in-depth study of their holdings, to present my findings to his students in a seminar setting, and to improve my German communication skills.