One of the most unsettling rooms in an important art exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie is a room in which numerous empty frames are hanging, with guesses about which paintings might have been in them. The paintings themselves were all lost or destroyed by the Nazis. Encouraged by Hitler, most Nazis (Joseph Goebbels was the rare exception) considered everything but the most hidebound, traditionally realistic paintings and sculptures to be "degenerate," a threat to the Aryan ideals of German culture. To bring this home, there was a series of "exhibitions of shame" designed to teach the German public to despise modernist art. This culminated in a major show in Munich in 1937, which later toured Germany and Austria. The public crowded to see it. That same summer in Munich, a counterexhibit called "The Great German Art Exhibition," which included at least one work owned by Hitler, showed what the Nazis thought art should be. The Neue Galerie's exhibit, called "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937," includes some 80 works from both of these landmark shows. Read the full article on NPR here.
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