Monday, January 5, 2009
The traveling "degenerate Art" museums were some of the greatest and most avant-garde art exhibitions which the world has ever seen or known, yet ridiculed & demonized in place of the praise they were deserved. Paintings were often auctioned off, vandalized or hung askew in mockery. I (Mr. Sean) was involved in the Entartete Kunts show curated by Dennis Dread in Portland which was a "degenerate" show put together by a "degenerate" for a whole new perspective on the theme.
The NAZIS were into this idea of degeneracy. There was a theory as devised by art critic Max Nordau that modern art was produced because the artists were so corrupted and enfeebled by modern life that they had lost the self-control needed to produce coherent works. Explaining the painterliness of Impressionism as the sign of a diseased visual cortex, he decried modern degeneracy while praising traditional German culture. Nordau drew upon the writings of the criminologist Cesare Lombroso who claimed researched that there were “born criminals” whose atavistic personality traits could be detected by scientifically measuring abnormal physical characteristics. I agree with most of this except for the moral criticism of the work. I personally like crazy, weird, distorted & disturbing pieces of art, as long as they are done by someone who knows what they are doing. The sort of "pure" world championed by the NAZIS seems tremendously boring to me, & is still encouraged by all sorts of people under the guise of various political correctivenesses, religions & ideologies, who do not realize the world is better with contrast & complexity.
Here's a pretty cool exploration of these themes at Marilyn Manson's site.