The degenerate art exhibition in 1937

The degenerate art exhibition in 1937

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Title: Exhibition "Entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) at the "Galeriegebäude am Münchener Hofgarten".

Creation date : 1937

Date shown: 1937

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Opening of the exhibition on July 19, 1937. Three works by Otto Mueller "Adolescent in front of two standing figures", "Bohemians in front of a tent", "Three women".

Storage location: Zentralarchiv website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - BPK image

Picture reference: 12-537038

Exhibition "Entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) at the "Galeriegebäude am Münchener Hofgarten".

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - BPK image

Publication date: March 2014

Responsible for the historical archives within the City of Architecture and Heritage.

Historical context

The condemnation of modern art by the Nazis

Taken during the exhibition Entartete Kunst organized in 1937 in Munich by the Nazis, this photograph of the south wall of room n ° 3 seems to belong to a set of several photographs found in the archives of the Berlin State Museums in 1990. It is however by the yardstick of this discovery, although the demonstration was a major event of National Socialist cultural policy, that the identification of the works presented during this exhibition was made possible.

From the accession to power in 1933 of Adolf Hitler, virulent attacks are constantly formulated against the pictorial research initiated in the 1910s by German expressionist artists, which they belong to the current Die Brücke, der Blaue reiter or the dada movement. The opposition between the two aesthetics led in 1937 to the unhooking of the picture rails of German national museums of around 16,000 avant-garde works. A selection of 650 of them then gathered in Munich, to be presented there during the exhibition Entartete Kunst, visited by around three million visitors during a four-year tour of Germany and Austria.

Image Analysis

The exhibition Entartete Kunst from Munich in July 1937

This photograph, by its composition, is not easily readable, although it is extremely graphic. It represents a view of the exhibition Entartete Kunst organized from July 19, 1937 in Munich; the staging, however skilfully orchestrated, immediately inspires incomprehension and then, very quickly, disapproval from the visitor. The English hanging of works, far from highlighting them, stifles them by suppressing their legibility. For each of them is indicated its purchase price in Reichsmarks, its year of acquisition and the German museum institution which acquired it. This again is to arouse public aversion, by mentioning the enormity of the sums of the acquisitions, in the difficult economic context of the 1920s.

In the foreground, the statue Adam and eve by Christoph Voll (1897-1939) and a bronze, The hungry woman, 1928, by Karel Niestrath (1896-1971). Three works by the German expressionist painter Otto Mueller (1874-1930, Müller in the picture) can be seen on the picture rail: Naked, 1918/1919, and Gypsies in front of a tent, 1925, taken from the picture rails of the National Gallery in Berlin, as well as Three Women, 1922, canvas formerly on display at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld.
Along the cimaise runs part of this sentence: "Die Jüdische Wüstensehnsucht macht sich Luft - Der Neger wird in Deutschland zum Rassenideal einer entarteten KunstWhose translation: "The Jewish nostalgia to find the desert is revealed - In Germany, the negro becomes the racial ideal of degenerate art" reveals a racist conception of art claimed by the Nazis.


Art and Race

In this public presentation, the Nazis stage their fight to eliminate the "filth of the foreigner" in order to highlight the purity of the German soul. The visitor has the opportunity to visit the official art exhibition at the House of German Art, during the exhibition Entartete Kunst, whose airy, classical and rhythmic museography shows the athletic bodies of warriors arranged opposite the classic beauties of Hitler’s Phidias: sculptor Arno Breker. Through this Munich event, visitors seem to have the freedom to compare through their visual experience the two competing artistic concepts: modern art and official German art. However, it is clear that, not having the keys to reading that are ours, the public is far from imagining the power of the hold of propaganda put in place by Joseph Goebbels in the field of plastic arts, desired originally by the Führer.

  • Germany
  • Nazism
  • racism
  • propaganda
  • Museum
  • Hitler (Adolf)
  • Goebbels (Joseph)


Stephanie BARRON, Degenerate art: the fate of the avant-garde in Nazi Germany, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991.

Uwe FLECKNER, Das verfemte Meisterwerk: Schicksalswege moderner Kunst im Dritten Reich, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2009.

Éric MICHAUD, An art of eternity, the image and time of National Socialism, Paris, Gallimard, 1996.

Lynn H. NICHOLAS, The Plunder of Europe, Paris, Le Seuil, 1995.

To cite this article

Emmanuelle POLACK, "The degenerate art exhibition in 1937"

Video: Degenerate Art - Entartete Kunst exhibit in Munich 1937