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Degenerateness is in the Eye of the Beholder

New site from Berlin documents the fate of art condemned by Nazis

Hadara Graubart
April 22, 2010

After eight years of research, Berlin’s Free University has just launched a new internet database of more than 21,000 artworks declared “degenerate” by the Nazis. 1937, the Nazis seized art they found “contrary to Aryan ideals” from German museums and displayed it shoddily along with “racist slogans denigrating the artists for ‘insulting German womanhood’ and revealing ‘sick minds.’” Artists of these condemned pieces include Marc Chagall, Max Beckman, and Wassily Kandinsky. Wherever possible, the site will offer information on a work’s siege, and, if it survived, let viewers know where it ended up.

We’re not sure whether the archive will include film, as the English version hasn’t yet launched (but should be coming soon). In the meantime, a glimpse into the delightfully “degenerate” world of filmmaker Hans Richter in his piece “One More Ghost Before Breakfast,” the original sound version of which was destroyed by the Nazis:

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.