The “Degenerate” Art Hitler Loathed

Of a current exhibition, Michael Kimmelman writes: ‘The popularity of “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” at the Neue Galerie in New York, where lines stretched out the door as soon as the show opened in March. Seeing the exhibition, you can recover a sense of what was once radical and thrilling about pictures by Expressionists like Max Beckmann, George Grosz, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose self-portrait from the mid-1930s is pictured. A debased term, the avant-garde gets its jive back. Art matters again. The Nazis raised the stakes by stigmatizing modern art. As Genet once put it, fascism is theater. So modernism returns to its role as tragic hero in the show.’

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