~ dylan - visions of johanna
I just discovered a most informative web page: The Visualisation of National Socialist Ideology. Be forewarned, it's on a Nazi site, and the views it expresses uncritically reflect the Third Reich's official perspective on both the art it approved of and the kind of art it labeled "degenerate." Many of these viewpoints seem to be quoted (though the citations are far from scholarly) from original documents of the time. Caveats aside, the page is invaluable for what it says about Nazi attitudes about "Nature," "Woman," and the volkish "mysticism" connecting these sentimentally construed imaginary constructs.
Following are some examples...
For the National Socialists questions of style or form did not exist. All artistic problems were metaphysical ones. Richard Wagner's dictum that art is "the presentation of religion in a lively form" was fully subscribed to by the ideologists of the regime. "The desire of the Germans to create always grew from the two roots: a strong sensuous feeling for Nature, and a deep metaphysical longing. The capacity of the Germans to make the divine visible in Nature, and to illuminate the sensuous with spiritual values, fulfills Wagner's demands for art to become religion," wrote Robert Scholz. (Scholz, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, August, 1938.)
The ideal women were tall, blue eyed, blonde representatives of the Aryan Race. The ideal beauty corresponded to the type of human being that was politically sound. For Hitler beauty always involved health: "We only want the celebration of the healthy body in art." The woman was preordained by Nature to be the bearer of children, the sacred mother. The man was preordained to fight. In Hitler's view only this interpretation of the role of man and woman could produce fine art. "We want women in whose life and work the characteristically feminine is preserved," said Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess. "Women we can love.... She is a woman who, above all, is able to be a mother.... She becomes a mother not merely because the State wants it, or because her husband wants it, but because she is proud to bring healthy children into the world, and to bring them up for the Nation. In this way she too plays her part in the preservation of the life of her Folk." (Reich Minister Rudolf Hess, at a meeting of the Women's Association, cited in Folkish Observer, May 27th, 1936.)
The President of the Reich Chamber for the Visual Arts, Adolf Ziegler painted one of the main works for the 1937 Exhibition of German Art. It became famous almost overnight through frequent reproduction. Hitler acquired it to hang in his living room in Munich above the fireplace. Ziegler wrote: "Our work represents our philosophy." What is the philosophy spelled out by this picture? Bodies are celebrated, the photorealistic representation of perfect bodies. The sleek, perfect surface almost detaches the body from reality. The four women representing the four elements, offering themselves to the onlooker, are like four priestesses; they sit on a bench as though on an altar. But they are also ready for sacrifice. Willingness to be sacrificed for the Nation was widely stressed. The combination of priestess and sacrificial object was iconographically new.
"We believe that the Führer is obeying a higher call to fashion German history. There can be no criticism of this belief."
~ "The Historian as Provocateur:
Adolf Ziegler: The Four Elements - Great German Art Exhibition, 1937
Gisbert Palmie - The Rewards of Work
from the Third Reich magazine, Kunst dem Volk
(note dark wood, wholesome spaniel.)