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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

«The future for German art». Expressionism and nationalsocialism

di Maike Steinkamp
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 33 (2010), p. 97

Around 1933, many artists, critics and academics thought that the Expressionists and the artists within his tradition would have played a special role in the new Nazi state. Besides the “völkisch” (folkish) and national tendencies of the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur, established in 1928, a progressive cultural opposition had formed prior to 1933, which spoke out for the elevation of Expressionism as a national, German art style. The artistic innovation power of expressionism and his rebellion against the middle class can be related to the political aims of National Socialism. The artists and critics that had remarked an analogy between art and party have been widly ignored in the historical researches. The so-called Expressionism controversy of the years 1933/34 is an integral part of the research on «degenerate art», but the historians had underestimated the fact that behind this debate it was hidden an explicitly political statement of a young generation of artists that in its aesthetic and ideological choices were related to the ideology of National Socialism. The examination of this analogy between art and party is the goal of the paper. Key words: Nationalsocialism, Northern Expressionism, Degenerate Art, German Art, Otto Andreas Schreiber, «Art of the Nation»