Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Conquest of Europe: Hitlers Quest for Artistic Supremacy

This is a great documentary about what happened to art when Adolf Hitler was taking over Europe.  The movie talked about how Hitler wanted to keep all art that glorified German culture.  He also wanted to rid Germany from abstract art and art that used too many colors.  He felt that art of that nature was going to pollute the minds of his superior race.  Hitler viewed himself as a great artist, and therefore art played a huge role in his overtaking of Europe. 
Artworks that Hitler saw as fitting for his collection were looted and taken back to Germany.  It began with the looting of massive Jewish collections.  These collections even included works from masters like Gustav Klimt.  He eventually began looting conquered cities.  The movie even suggested that some of his attacks could have been specifically to get artworks that he wanted. 

Hitler viewed the Polish people as sub human.  When he invaded Poland, Hitler ordered all of the artwork to be destroyed.  He wanted to wipe every aspect of their culture from the earth.  He even destroyed artworks that he would have otherwise appreciated.  One of the only pieces that he did not destroy was a wooden sculpture inside of a church.  The only reason he kept it was because a German artist did it.  In Warsaw he even went as far as sending in a special team to destroy everything that they could.  He was truly pushing towards his goal of wiping Poland from history.

When the Nazis were nearing Paris, the Louver began to rapidly prepare by packing up all of the artwork.  They shipped the art to castles in the countryside.  The Nazi forces did not have enough men to spread out into the countryside, so most of the art was safe.  Hitler almost demolished Paris.  But he decided that it would be pointless because after his new German Acropolis, Paris would be nothing but a shadow. 

The way that the movie relates to the class is that Hitler destroyed thousands of pieces of public art.  He also took a lot of the art away from its place of origin.  In class we discussed weather or not art has meaning out of context.  Hitler intentionally removed art from its original home to be relocated in Germany’s own national museum.  He altered the context of the art in order to force his views and ideals on his people.

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