At the Forest Edge, 1936
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

“Anybody who sees and paints a sky green and pastures blue ought to be sterilized.” Adolph Hitler


Stormtroops Advance Under Gas, 1924
Otto Dix

“Any art that does not glorify war is forbidden.” Nazi propaganda


Sitting Girl, 1910
Ernst Kirchner

“Garish colors and contorted poses of the female body are evidence of a depraved society.” Nazi propaganda


German art changed spectacularly after 1920. No longer did artists paint the classical Greek model.

The horrors of World War I, the terrible economic depression, prostitution, the chasm between the rich and the poor…all were bitterly protested in art.

German artists used bright garish colors, awkward poses and harsh brush strokes to shock the viewer with Germany’s tragic plight.

German Expressionism was born!

As a young man Adolph Hitler was refused admittance to art school in Vienna, Austria, on the basis of his lack of artistic ability. He never recovered from the rejection.

Hitler denounced German Expressionist artists and their extremely colorful paintings as “degenerate.”  They were evidence of a pollution in the Aryan strain. The artists who produced them were fired from their teaching positions, their works were removed from museum walls, and they were forbidden to paint again.

Some of these “degenerate” artists escaped to other countries, many of their works were hidden for years or secretly smuggled to America, and many, many works were burned.

Today German Expressionism is considered a momentous time in German art history, the paintings are back on museum walls and “degenerate” art is celebrated over the world.

Watch this video with wild colors and startling paintings-German Expressionism.
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Cornelia Feye, art historian, talks more on German Expressionism.
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