Kayla Bocianowski
Degenerate art is the term used by Hitler and the Nazis to describe any artwork that was deemed not traditional enough. This included modern art, art by Jewish artists, Communist art or art that was decided to not be patriotic enough. In Munich in 1937 an art show was held by the Nazi party. This exhibit, called the Entartete Kunst exhibit, featured over 650 paintings, sculptures, prints and books collected from over 30 Germany museums. After a showing in Munich the exhibit also traveled to eleven others, all around Germany and Austria. This show consisted of art that was deemed degenerate in an attempt to showcase to the world how this art, and these artists were trying to work against Germany. Hitler found the ancient arts of Greece and Rome to be uncontaminated by Modernists and the Jews, and those were allowed to continue. Once Hitler rose to power he began the process of burning books, and art while dismissing artists, teachers, curators and musicians that he believed were promoting ideals not aligned with those propagated by the Nazi party. Avant-garde artists that were forced to stop creating art often left the country in hopes of being able to work somewhere else, while some were unable to deal with the catastrophe and committed suicide. Over the course of the war, many paintings and other pieces of valuable art, were confiscated by the Nazis. Some of these artworks were destroyed by the Nazis or during attacks throughout the war. Many pieces of art are still lost to history, but there are various groups, including the Monuments Men organization, working to uncover the missing art. Over time many artworks have been found, and returned to their correct owners, while others are still drifting around, waiting to be returned to their proper homes.

Destroyed


Painter on the Road to Tarascon by Vincent Van Gogh
Painter on the Road to Tarascon by Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist during the mid 1800s. His paintings are characterized by vibrant colors, and bold, and expressive brushstrokes. Van Gogh was a modern artist, making him receive much of Hitler's hatred of new “degenerate art.” Degenerate artists were any artist that were not of Aryan blood, and Van Gogh was not. These painters were not allowed to continue painting, and their artworks were often confiscated and destroyed. Van Gogh was not famous during his life time, which was short, due to his suicide at age 37. Even so he was featured when Hitler held a “degenerate art show” to further the hatred of those without Aryan blood, as he tried to point out how the art were insulting to the people of Germany (2). This painting is a self portrait of Van Gogh on his way to Tarascon with his paintings in his hand. It is meant to convey the isolated life that an artist must live. There is not much else in the painting except for himself and his shadow, which is his only companion. This painting was taken to the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum (now called the Bode Museum) in Berlin, Germany. This painting was destroyed in a fire, most likely when the Allies bombed Magdeburg in May of 1945, and set fire to the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, which contained a lot of stolen art (1).





War Cripples by Otto Dix
War Cripples by Otto Dix
Otto Dix was a German painter and print maker. He was a World War I veteran, and came home plagued by the memories of war. His traumatic experiences were conveyed in a series of paintings and prints he made, including this one. The picture above is a dry-point etching that is modeled on a painting he made, that was confiscated and destroyed by Nazis. After World War I, over 80,000 amputees returned home, unable to function in society the same way they did before. Dix is commenting on the terrible nature of war, and how these men are now forgotten by society (10). He was a key figure in the Neue Sachlichkeit Movement or New Objectivity movement, which was a reaction against Expressionism (11). This movement focused on functionality in society and the rejection of romantic idealism. Because of his involvement in this type of art, Dix resorts to caricature in this painting, which suggests that he did not like celebrating the human body, and human spirit in his paintings. When the Nazis came to power Dix was labelled a degenerate artist, because of how unpatriotic his paintings were and his connection to the New Objectivity movement. He had a few paintings including War Cripples exhibited in the state-sponsored Munich 1937 exhibition of degenerate art, Entartete Kunst (9). It was later burned, along with many other paintings in the show. While this etching exists and is owned by the Museum of Modern Art, the original painting was deemed bad enough to be destroyed during the Nazi reign.


Missing


The Amber Room designed by Andrea Schluter
The Amber Room designed by Andrea Schluter
The Amber Room is made out of fossilized amber, a gemstone made from fossilized tree resin. It contained within the room, jewels, paintings, mirrors and gold. It also had architectural features such as gilding, carvings, and statues of angels and children. During its time, because of its magnificent beauty, it was sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It is the most expensive piece of art taken during the war, with modern estimates ranging from $142 million to over $500 million. The Amber Room began to be constructed in 1701 to be installed in Charlottenburg Palace, home to the King of Prussia. In 1716 it was given to Peter the Great of Russia, as a symbol of the peace between Russia and Prussia. It was later brought to Catherine Palace in 1755, the place where Russian Imperial families spent their summers. Here it was renovated until the room finally measured 55 square meters, and contained over 6 tons of amber. Hitler felt that Germany should possess this piece of art as a symbol of their power, and authority over the Russians. The Russians tried to take the room apart, but the amber was too brittle to be removed, so it was covered by wallpaper-this plan failed. When the Nazi army took the city of Leningrad in 1941, the room was dismantled, put into 27 different crates, and sent to Konigsberg in East Prussia. In 1945 Hitler ordered the relocation of many pieces of art, which may have included this one. Later Konigsberg was bombed, leveling the city, so if the art was still there, it’s likely it was destroyed. Others think that the room survived the war in a hidden bunker, now lost (3).Yet another theory says that the room was loaded onto a German ship or submarine, that sunk to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Whichever theory proves correct, the room is still lost as of right now, but there are multiple organizations attempting to recover this priceless art.



Portrait of a Young Man (Raphael) by Raphael
Portrait of a Young Man (Raphael) by Raphael
Raphael was an Italian High Renaissance Old Master painter, who painted this oil on panel painting in 1513. In World War II this was stolen from Poland by the Nazis, and hasn’t been seen since. Many regard it as the most important piece of art missing from Nazi plunder during World War II. It is assumed to be a self portrait, as it looks like the known self portrait he’s made. As a piece of Renaissance art, it is very idealized, with perfect proportions and a Mannerist expression (5). In 1798 this painting was brought to Poland, by the Prince during his travels in Italy. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the Prince of Poland took many pieces of art, including this, and artworks by Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt, and hid them in a private residence. These paintings were found, and sent to the Fuhrer’s own collection at Linz. In January of 1945 this painting was brought to the Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland by Hans Frank, a German Gestapo leader. When the Soviets attacked Poland, Frank left with the paintings, and went to his private home. After the war the Polish representative at the Allies Commission for the Retrieval of Works of Art found some of the paintings that Frank had stolen, and claimed them on behalf of a Polish museum, but the Portrait of a Young Man, along with 843 other artifacts, were still missing (4). Estimates of this painting's value reach over 100 million US dollars.



Still Around Today


Portrait of Wally by Egon Schiele
Portrait of Wally by Egon Schiele
Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter, who made this in 1912, of Walburga “Wally” Neuzil, who often modeled for him. The painting was owned by Lea Bondi Jaray, a Jewish art dealer, living in Austria. When Germany annexed Austria, and began the Aryanization program, she had to flee, because she was Jewish. She gave her paintings, and gallery to Friedrich Welz, an art dealer, in 1939, who was working with the Nazis, and made her give them to him. He also forced another man, Dr. Heinrich Rieger to sell his collection of Schiele paintings (8). After the end of World War II, the United States Army took back the paintings stolen by Welz, and turned them over to the Austrian government who sold them to the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, or the Austrian National Gallery. This money was given to Rieger’s heirs, as it was believed that this painting was one of the paintings stolen from him during the war. In 1994, this painting was purchased by the Austrian government, to be placed in the Leopold Museum. The museum said the painting was part of the works stolen by Rieger, which had been paid for. In 2009 a court case was brought up, that said Bondi was the true owner of this painting, and it must be returned to her heirs since it was stolen as Nazi plunder. In 2010 the Bondi estate, agreed to a settlement of $19 million for the Leopold Museum to retain ownership of the painting. It is still located in this museum now (7). This serves to show that artworks are still trying to be returned to their rightful heirs, as the time during the war was confusing and led to many mistakes in returning artworks stolen.


Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt was a symbolist painter whose primary subject was the female nude body. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a Jewish banker commissioned this painting of his wife which was created between 1903 and 1907 during his “gold” phase. The effect of the gold background was to remove her from the Earthly plane, and turn her into a symbol of sensuality, femininity, and self-indulgence. His wife died several years later, who tried to will the painting to a museum, but it belonged to her husband, not her. After the Anschluss of Austria by the Nazis, Ferdinand fled to Switzerland, leaving behind his large art collection. He was falsely accused of tax evasion by the Nazis, and had all his property seized in 1941. The painting was attacked by the Nazis because of its Jewish subject matter, however it was still worth a lot-and the Nazis knew this. When the painting was taken the Germans gave it a new name to remove any reference to Jewish subject matter. It was now called the Lady in Gold. The Germans gave the painting to Galerie Belvedere, which is the place Adele wanted it to go, even if it wasn’t hers to give. Ferdinand died shortly after it was stolen, but after the war Bloch-Bauer siblings tried to gain ownership back for this painting from the Austrian government, who were given the painting, along with other works of art, after Nazi Germany was liberated. Nothing came of this until 1998 when Austria announced it was going to return artworks they have received from Nazi Germany, but only if you could prove you were the rightful heir. In 2006, Maria Altmann was able to prove to the court that she was the rightful owner, and the court ordered the museum to return this painting, and several others. Maria decided to sell the painting, and in June 2006 Ronald Lauder purchased it for $135 million. It is now hanging in his Neue Galerie in New York City, which is highly dedicated to displaying works of Jewish art that were stolen by the Nazis during World War II (6).

Sources
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2. Burns, Lucy. "Degenerate Art: Why Hitler Hated Modernism." BBC News. BBC, 06 Nov. 2013. Web. 06 June 2017.
3. "Amber Room." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 June 2017. Web. 06 June 2017.
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5. Modzolewska, Agata. "Portrait of a Young Man – the Story of a Lost Painting." Polish (PL). N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2017.
6. "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2017. Web. 06 June 2017.
7. "Portrait of Wally." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Apr. 2017. Web. 06 June 2017.
8. "Portrait of Wally." N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en/leopoldcollection/masterpieces/33>
9. Farago, Jason. "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937 Review – What Hitler Dismissed as 'filth'." The Guardian. Guardian News and
Media, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 06 June 2017.
10."Otto Dix. War Cripples (Kriegskrüppel). (1920)." MoMA.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2017.
11."Art in Nazi Germany." Khan Academy. Khan Academy, n.d. Web. 06 June 2017.