art of the Third Reich

Discipline: Art


Following the rise to power of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), German art came under the tight control of Paul Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945). As propaganda minister, he brought artists under the control of the Reichskulturkammer, which body decreed that all forms of art should be racially conscious.

The art which was subsequently produced until the fall of National Socialism is typified by cleanly-realist works which are traditionalist and aim to promote Nazi ideology. All other works were branded degenerate and removed or destroyed. Meanwhile, however, much valuable non-Nazi art was acquired (as spoils of war) from across Europe for private consumption or gain.

H Osborne, Oxford Companion to 20th-century Art (Oxford, 1981)


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