In accordance with these principles, the artwork shown in official exhibitions presented the happy life of the German people, free of worries and existential dilemmas. Group portraits of village families underscored the importance of the home hearth and the attachment to the German soil. Work scenes emphasized the role of collective effort, work for the homeland. The canon of approved figures required the showing of strong people, hard and vigorous, molded by the natural laws governing this world. The cult of health, physical robustness, and racial purity manifested itself particularly in sculpture.
An unusually frequent subject in Nazi art were portrayals of nude women, both in painting and sculpture. The popularity of this type of portrayal is a characteristic phenomenon of this art. Attempts were made to explain it as the result of the longing of fighting men for women and, as Berhold Hinz put it, "visualizations created by males for males." Nazi nude paintings of this type appear to combine the historical traditions of this genre of painting (Harlod Bengen, The bather, 1943) with crypto-pornographic elements of salon and boudoir painters (Robert Schwartz, Bathing girls, 1943, Paul Mathias Padua, The sleeping Diana, 1943). Considerable importance in the shaping of some genres of this art, the daily settings and the verism of the details, derived from photography (Johann Schult, In life's springtime,1942; Expectancy,1943). Quite popular were the well painted "peasant' nudes by Seppa Hilza (The Peasant Venus, Emptiness, 1940) as well as Oscar Matin Amorbach's Cranach-like paintings (Peasant Grace, 1940). Finally, in a different category are portraits of the leader and the regime's high officials. Among the best known are Franz Triebsch's (Portrait of the Fuhrer, 1939), Karl Truppe, Gerhard Zill, Heinrch Knirra's and the works of the official portraitist of the fascist dignitaries, Otto Pitthan.
In the shadow of the monumental and official art, remained the output of those among contemporary artists who did not leave Germany after Hitler came to power. Artists such as Ernst Barlach, Oskar Schlemmer, Georg Macke, Willi Baumeister and Karl Hofer, doomed to silence, accepted the premise of an "internal emigration." If they painted, it was under condition of concealment and in secret. The Gestapo made frequent inspections of the workshops of artists encompassed by the painting ban, looking for paintings. Also lists with their names were distributed to shops with artists' supplies so as to make it impossible for them to purchase paints and canvases. Those who failed to comply met with the worst punishment, being sent to concentration camps. Even Adolf Ziegler (1892-1959), Hitler's favorite artist, spent a little time there when he expressed doubts regarding the possibility of the victory of the 1000 year-Reich.

based on Sztuka a systemy totalitarne (Art and totalitarian systems) by Waldemar Baraniewski.

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English translation by Peter K. Gessner of Polish original posted by Liga Republicanska
© 2000 Polish Academic Information Center, University at Buffalo. All rights reserved.


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