Politicized Aesthetics: German Art in Warsaw of 1938

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Summary

This paper focuses attention on the reception of the exhibition “Deutsche Bildhauer der Gegenwart”, which was inaugurated on April 23rd, 1938 at the Institute of Art Propaganda in Warsaw - an institution whose exhibition hall was considered a venue of crucial importance to the cultural policy of the Polish state. The presentation was organized in the framework of a cultural exchange between Poland and Germany which was initiated by an exhibition of Polish contemporary art mounted in 1935 at the Preusischen Akademie der Kunste in Berlin. I will present the response of the Warsaw public to the presentation of contemporary German sculpture within the context of traditionalist ideology which was promulgated in Poland as much as across Europe in the decades between the two world wars. Drawing on traditionalism, which heralded a prevalence of national cultural values strongly anchored in the past, I will question the relevance of its rhetoric to the artistic phenomena evolving under political pressure. It seems intriguing to juxtapose the accounts provided by Polish and German authorities from the art world in an attempt to grasp the semantic content of such categories as “the genius of the race”, as reflected in the 1930s’ critical discourse. Moreover, in order to reflect upon the concept of propaganda art - another key notion of the time - it is worth considering the response of Polish commentators to official exhibitions of other nation-states held in Warsaw in the 1930s.

Summary

This paper focuses attention on the reception of the exhibition “Deutsche Bildhauer der Gegenwart”, which was inaugurated on April 23rd, 1938 at the Institute of Art Propaganda in Warsaw - an institution whose exhibition hall was considered a venue of crucial importance to the cultural policy of the Polish state. The presentation was organized in the framework of a cultural exchange between Poland and Germany which was initiated by an exhibition of Polish contemporary art mounted in 1935 at the Preusischen Akademie der Kunste in Berlin. I will present the response of the Warsaw public to the presentation of contemporary German sculpture within the context of traditionalist ideology which was promulgated in Poland as much as across Europe in the decades between the two world wars. Drawing on traditionalism, which heralded a prevalence of national cultural values strongly anchored in the past, I will question the relevance of its rhetoric to the artistic phenomena evolving under political pressure. It seems intriguing to juxtapose the accounts provided by Polish and German authorities from the art world in an attempt to grasp the semantic content of such categories as “the genius of the race”, as reflected in the 1930s’ critical discourse. Moreover, in order to reflect upon the concept of propaganda art - another key notion of the time - it is worth considering the response of Polish commentators to official exhibitions of other nation-states held in Warsaw in the 1930s.

References

  • Adam Peter. Art of the Third Reich New York: Harry Abrams 1992.

  • Art Culture and Media under the Third Reich edited by Richard Etlin Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2002.

  • Berger Ursel. Georg Kolbe. Leben und Werk mit dem Katalog der Kolbe Plastiken in Georg- Kolbe-Museum Berlin: Gebruder Mann Verlag 1990.

  • Bernd Nicolai. “Tectonic Sculpture: Autonomous and Political Sculpture in Germany.” In Dawn Ades et al. Art and Power. Europe under the Dictators 1930-1945. Exhibition catalogue Hayward Gallery. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. 1995 334-337.

  • Braun Hermann. Fritz Klimsch Werke. Exhibition catalogue. Galerie Koch. Hannover: Galerie Koch 1980.

  • Brenner Hildegard. Die Kunstpolitik des Nationalsozialismus Reinbek: Rowohlt Verlag 1963.

  • Ciechomski Stanisław. “Wystawa wspołczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptures] Plastyka 4 (1938): 118-126.

  • Czermiński Adam. „Swastyka - dłuto - i kielnia. Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej w Warszawie” [Swastika - Chisel - and Trowel. Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Polonia May 1 (1938): 3.

  • Czyżewski Tytus. “Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka w IPS-ie.” [Contemporary German Sculpture at IPS] Kurier Polski 115 (1938): 6.

  • Eckstein Beate. Im öffentlichen Auftrag: Architektur und Denkmalsplastik der 1920er bis 1950er Jahre im Werks von Karl Albiker Richard Scheibe und Josef Wackerle Hamburg: Kovac 2005.

  • Gabler Josephine. “Conformity in Dissent. The Sculptors in the Third Reich.” In Taking Positions. Figurative Sculpture and the Third Reich edited by Penelope Curtis. Exhibition catalogue. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute 2001. 42-59.

  • Georg Kolbe 1877-1947 edited by Ursel Berger exhibition catalogue Georg-Kolbe-Museum Berlin. Munchen and New York: Prestel 1997.

  • Haug Wolfgang Fritz. “Asthetik der Normalitat. Vor-Stellung und Vorbild. Die Faschisierung des mannlichen Akts bei Arno Breker.” In: Inszenierung der Macht. Asthetische Faszination im Faschismus edited by Klaus Behnken and Frank Wagner. Exhibition catalogue. Neuen Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst im Kunstquartier Ackerstrase Berlin 1987 79-102.

  • Hulewicz Jerzy. “Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej w Warszawie.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Zwierciadło 4-5 (1938): 34.

  • Husarski Wacław. „Wystawa rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of German Sculpture]. Czas 114 (1938): 6.

  • Jot. Ha. “Chybione strzały propagandy. Kilka uwag o wystawie rzeźby niemieckiej.” [The Missed Shots of the Propaganda. A Few Remarks on the Exhibition of German Sculpture] Kurier Polski 125 (938): 6.

  • Kahler Susanne. Deutsche Bildhauer in Paris. Die Rezeption frazösischer Skulptur zwischen 1971 und 1914 unter besonderer Berüchsichtigung der Berliner Künsterschaft Frankfurt am Main - Berlin - Bern - New York - Paris -Wien 1996.

  • Kleczyński Jan. „Rzeźba niemiecka.” [German Sculpture] Polska zbrojna 17 (1938): 1.

  • Kossowska Irena. “Evoking the Greatness of Poland: Propaganda Art in Warsaw in the 1930s.” In Reinterpreting the Past: Traditionalist Artistic Trends in Central and Eastern Europe of the 1920s and 1930s edited by Irena Kossowska. Warszawa: Instytut Sztuki 2010. 203-230.

  • Kuhn Alfred. “Stanowisko Niemiec w nowszej sztuce europejskiej.” [The Position of Germany in the Recent European Art] Sztuki Piękne 2 (1929): 55.

  • Leber Hermann. Rodin - Breker - Hrdlicka. Die Entstehung der faschistischen Bildsprache und ihre Überwindung. Untersuchugen zu Entstehuringsprozeß politischer Bedeutung und Beurteilbarkeit des Kunstwerks. Hildesheim - Zurich - New York: Georg Olms Verlag 1998.

  • Marmin Michel and Jose Manuel Infiesta. Arno Breker. El Miguel-Angel del siglo XX. Barcelona: Ediciones du Nuevo Arte Thor 1976.

  • Merker Reinhard. Die bildenden Künste im Nationalsozialismus: Kulturideologie-Kulturpolitik-Kulturproduktion Koln: DuMont 1983.

  • Muller-Mehlis Reinhard. Die Kunst um Dritten Reich Munchen: Heyne Stilkunde 1976.

  • Norblin-Chrzanowska Zofia. “Rzeźba niemiecka w IPS-ie.” [German Sculpture at IPS]. Świat 21 (1938): 6. Petropoulos Jonathan. Art and Politics in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press 1996.

  • Podoski Wiktor. “Wystawa rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of German Sculpture]. Myśl Narodowa 21 (1938): 332-333.

  • Pruszkowski Tadeusz. „Rzeźbiarze niemieccy w I.P.S.” [German Sculptors at IPS]. Gazeta Polska 118 (1938): 7.

  • Rittich Werner. “Deutsche Plastik der Gegenwart” In: Wystawa współczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptors] exhibition catalgue April 23 - May 15 1938. Institute of Art Propaganda. Warszawa 1938 14-19.

  • Rolinek Susanne. “Der Bildhauer Josef Thorak als NS-Karrierist.” In: Politische Skulptur: Barlach / Kasper / Thorak / Wotruba edited by Martin Hochleitner and Inga Kleinknecht exhibition catalogue Landesgalerie Linz Linz: Oberosterreichische Landesmuseen 2008 77-98.

  • S.P.O. [Podhorska-Okołow Stefania]. “Rzeźba dzisiejszych Niemiec.” (The Sculpture of the Present Day Germany] Bluszcz 19 (1938): 12-13.

  • Schlenker Ines. “Defining National Socialist Art. The First “Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung” in 1937” In Degenerate Art. The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1937 edited by Olaf Peters exhibition catalogue Neue Galerie New York. Munich-London-New York: Prestel 2014. 90-105.

  • Schonfeld Claudia. Breker und Frankreich. In: Zur Diskussion gestellt: der Bildhauer Arno Breker edited by Rudolf Conrades. Exhibition catalogue. Schleswig-Holstein-Haus Schwerin: Cw-Verlag-Gruppe 2006.

  • Skrudlik Mieczysław. “Rzeźba niemiecka w Warszawie.” [German Sculpture in Warsaw] Goniec Warszawski 1 May 1938 5.

  • Sterling Mieczysław. “Wystawa wspołczesnej sztuki niemieckiej w Warszawie.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Wiadomości Literackie 3 (1929): 3.

  • Strakun Leopold. „Entartete Kunst. Wystawa rzeźby hitlerowskiej w I.P.S-ie.” [Exhibition of Nazi Sculpture] Nowy Głos 45 (1938): 7.

  • Thomae Otto. Die Propaganda-Maschinerie. Bildende Kunst und Öffentlichkeitarbeit im Dritten Reich. Berlin: Mann Verlag 1978.

  • Treter Mieczysław. Polnische Kunst. Ausstellung veranstaltet von der polnischen Regierung in Gemeinschaft mit der Preussischen Akademie der Künste zu Berlin. Berlin: Preussische Akademie der Kunste 1935.

  • W. [Konrad Winkler]: Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka w Instytucie Propagandy Sztuki [Contemporary German Sculpture at the Institute of Art Propaganda]. Rzeczpospolita 1938 No. 17 9.

  • Wallis Mieczysław. “Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka.” [Contemporary German Sculpture]. Wiadomości Literackie 21 (1938): 5.

  • Walther Sigrid. Karl Albiker 1878-1961 Plastik Zeichnungen. Exhibition catalogue. Georgenbau des Dresdner Schlosses. Dresden: Neuer Sachsicsher Kunstverein 1996.

  • Winkler Konrad. „Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka.” [Contemporary German Sculpture] Pion 18 (1938): 5.

  • Winkler Konrad. „Wystawa wspołczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich w Inst. Propagandy Sztuki.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptures at the Inst. of Art Propaganda] Robotnik 134 (1938): 4.

  • Wolff Jerzy. „Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture] Prosto z Mostu 22 (1938): 7.

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  • Adam Peter. Art of the Third Reich New York: Harry Abrams 1992.

  • Art Culture and Media under the Third Reich edited by Richard Etlin Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2002.

  • Berger Ursel. Georg Kolbe. Leben und Werk mit dem Katalog der Kolbe Plastiken in Georg- Kolbe-Museum Berlin: Gebruder Mann Verlag 1990.

  • Bernd Nicolai. “Tectonic Sculpture: Autonomous and Political Sculpture in Germany.” In Dawn Ades et al. Art and Power. Europe under the Dictators 1930-1945. Exhibition catalogue Hayward Gallery. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. 1995 334-337.

  • Braun Hermann. Fritz Klimsch Werke. Exhibition catalogue. Galerie Koch. Hannover: Galerie Koch 1980.

  • Brenner Hildegard. Die Kunstpolitik des Nationalsozialismus Reinbek: Rowohlt Verlag 1963.

  • Ciechomski Stanisław. “Wystawa wspołczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptures] Plastyka 4 (1938): 118-126.

  • Czermiński Adam. „Swastyka - dłuto - i kielnia. Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej w Warszawie” [Swastika - Chisel - and Trowel. Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Polonia May 1 (1938): 3.

  • Czyżewski Tytus. “Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka w IPS-ie.” [Contemporary German Sculpture at IPS] Kurier Polski 115 (1938): 6.

  • Eckstein Beate. Im öffentlichen Auftrag: Architektur und Denkmalsplastik der 1920er bis 1950er Jahre im Werks von Karl Albiker Richard Scheibe und Josef Wackerle Hamburg: Kovac 2005.

  • Gabler Josephine. “Conformity in Dissent. The Sculptors in the Third Reich.” In Taking Positions. Figurative Sculpture and the Third Reich edited by Penelope Curtis. Exhibition catalogue. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute 2001. 42-59.

  • Georg Kolbe 1877-1947 edited by Ursel Berger exhibition catalogue Georg-Kolbe-Museum Berlin. Munchen and New York: Prestel 1997.

  • Haug Wolfgang Fritz. “Asthetik der Normalitat. Vor-Stellung und Vorbild. Die Faschisierung des mannlichen Akts bei Arno Breker.” In: Inszenierung der Macht. Asthetische Faszination im Faschismus edited by Klaus Behnken and Frank Wagner. Exhibition catalogue. Neuen Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst im Kunstquartier Ackerstrase Berlin 1987 79-102.

  • Hulewicz Jerzy. “Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej w Warszawie.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Zwierciadło 4-5 (1938): 34.

  • Husarski Wacław. „Wystawa rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of German Sculpture]. Czas 114 (1938): 6.

  • Jot. Ha. “Chybione strzały propagandy. Kilka uwag o wystawie rzeźby niemieckiej.” [The Missed Shots of the Propaganda. A Few Remarks on the Exhibition of German Sculpture] Kurier Polski 125 (938): 6.

  • Kahler Susanne. Deutsche Bildhauer in Paris. Die Rezeption frazösischer Skulptur zwischen 1971 und 1914 unter besonderer Berüchsichtigung der Berliner Künsterschaft Frankfurt am Main - Berlin - Bern - New York - Paris -Wien 1996.

  • Kleczyński Jan. „Rzeźba niemiecka.” [German Sculpture] Polska zbrojna 17 (1938): 1.

  • Kossowska Irena. “Evoking the Greatness of Poland: Propaganda Art in Warsaw in the 1930s.” In Reinterpreting the Past: Traditionalist Artistic Trends in Central and Eastern Europe of the 1920s and 1930s edited by Irena Kossowska. Warszawa: Instytut Sztuki 2010. 203-230.

  • Kuhn Alfred. “Stanowisko Niemiec w nowszej sztuce europejskiej.” [The Position of Germany in the Recent European Art] Sztuki Piękne 2 (1929): 55.

  • Leber Hermann. Rodin - Breker - Hrdlicka. Die Entstehung der faschistischen Bildsprache und ihre Überwindung. Untersuchugen zu Entstehuringsprozeß politischer Bedeutung und Beurteilbarkeit des Kunstwerks. Hildesheim - Zurich - New York: Georg Olms Verlag 1998.

  • Marmin Michel and Jose Manuel Infiesta. Arno Breker. El Miguel-Angel del siglo XX. Barcelona: Ediciones du Nuevo Arte Thor 1976.

  • Merker Reinhard. Die bildenden Künste im Nationalsozialismus: Kulturideologie-Kulturpolitik-Kulturproduktion Koln: DuMont 1983.

  • Muller-Mehlis Reinhard. Die Kunst um Dritten Reich Munchen: Heyne Stilkunde 1976.

  • Norblin-Chrzanowska Zofia. “Rzeźba niemiecka w IPS-ie.” [German Sculpture at IPS]. Świat 21 (1938): 6. Petropoulos Jonathan. Art and Politics in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press 1996.

  • Podoski Wiktor. “Wystawa rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of German Sculpture]. Myśl Narodowa 21 (1938): 332-333.

  • Pruszkowski Tadeusz. „Rzeźbiarze niemieccy w I.P.S.” [German Sculptors at IPS]. Gazeta Polska 118 (1938): 7.

  • Rittich Werner. “Deutsche Plastik der Gegenwart” In: Wystawa współczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptors] exhibition catalgue April 23 - May 15 1938. Institute of Art Propaganda. Warszawa 1938 14-19.

  • Rolinek Susanne. “Der Bildhauer Josef Thorak als NS-Karrierist.” In: Politische Skulptur: Barlach / Kasper / Thorak / Wotruba edited by Martin Hochleitner and Inga Kleinknecht exhibition catalogue Landesgalerie Linz Linz: Oberosterreichische Landesmuseen 2008 77-98.

  • S.P.O. [Podhorska-Okołow Stefania]. “Rzeźba dzisiejszych Niemiec.” (The Sculpture of the Present Day Germany] Bluszcz 19 (1938): 12-13.

  • Schlenker Ines. “Defining National Socialist Art. The First “Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung” in 1937” In Degenerate Art. The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany 1937 edited by Olaf Peters exhibition catalogue Neue Galerie New York. Munich-London-New York: Prestel 2014. 90-105.

  • Schonfeld Claudia. Breker und Frankreich. In: Zur Diskussion gestellt: der Bildhauer Arno Breker edited by Rudolf Conrades. Exhibition catalogue. Schleswig-Holstein-Haus Schwerin: Cw-Verlag-Gruppe 2006.

  • Skrudlik Mieczysław. “Rzeźba niemiecka w Warszawie.” [German Sculpture in Warsaw] Goniec Warszawski 1 May 1938 5.

  • Sterling Mieczysław. “Wystawa wspołczesnej sztuki niemieckiej w Warszawie.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture in Warsaw] Wiadomości Literackie 3 (1929): 3.

  • Strakun Leopold. „Entartete Kunst. Wystawa rzeźby hitlerowskiej w I.P.S-ie.” [Exhibition of Nazi Sculpture] Nowy Głos 45 (1938): 7.

  • Thomae Otto. Die Propaganda-Maschinerie. Bildende Kunst und Öffentlichkeitarbeit im Dritten Reich. Berlin: Mann Verlag 1978.

  • Treter Mieczysław. Polnische Kunst. Ausstellung veranstaltet von der polnischen Regierung in Gemeinschaft mit der Preussischen Akademie der Künste zu Berlin. Berlin: Preussische Akademie der Kunste 1935.

  • W. [Konrad Winkler]: Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka w Instytucie Propagandy Sztuki [Contemporary German Sculpture at the Institute of Art Propaganda]. Rzeczpospolita 1938 No. 17 9.

  • Wallis Mieczysław. “Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka.” [Contemporary German Sculpture]. Wiadomości Literackie 21 (1938): 5.

  • Walther Sigrid. Karl Albiker 1878-1961 Plastik Zeichnungen. Exhibition catalogue. Georgenbau des Dresdner Schlosses. Dresden: Neuer Sachsicsher Kunstverein 1996.

  • Winkler Konrad. „Wspołczesna rzeźba niemiecka.” [Contemporary German Sculpture] Pion 18 (1938): 5.

  • Winkler Konrad. „Wystawa wspołczesnych rzeźbiarzy niemieckich w Inst. Propagandy Sztuki.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculptures at the Inst. of Art Propaganda] Robotnik 134 (1938): 4.

  • Wolff Jerzy. „Wystawa wspołczesnej rzeźby niemieckiej.” [Exhibition of Contemporary German Sculpture] Prosto z Mostu 22 (1938): 7.

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