As part of their attack on civilization, the Nazis targeted modern art. Great art. While they lauded kitsch.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, A Group of Artists, 1925-26The Neue Galerie in New York presents “Degenerate Art: the attack on modern art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” Along with stunning pieces the Nazis banned, it features some laughable tacky works the Führer (a failed painter) liked.

Many of the banned works, which the Nazis termed “degenerate,” were seized from museums and private collections.

Among the “bad” great art were works by the famous German expressionist, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, such as “A Group of Artists,” (1925-6).

Lasar Segall, Eternal Wanderers, 1919It is astonishing to note that to inculcate in their citizens what works were “bad,” the Nazis put the art in a three-year traveling exhibition that visited cities in Germany and Austria. True art lovers must have appreciated that!

This show includes works shown in Munich in the summer of 1937, including Lasar Segall’s Eternal Wanderers (1919).

Max Beckmann, Departure, 1932-35After the traveling show, many works were sold, lost, or believed destroyed.

Perhaps prescient was “Departure” by Max Beckmann (1932-5).

One room shows the officially sanctioned art, including works shown at the 1937 “Great German Art Exhibition” in Munich. You can’t miss Adolf Ziegler’s sugary triptych “The Four Elements” (1937), which Hitler owned.

Adolf Ziegler, The Four Elements,1937The Neue Galerie show was organized by Dr. Olaf Peters, a Professor of Art History in Halle. It includes about 50 paintings and sculptures, 30 works on paper and several posters, as well as photographs and other memorabilia.

A photograph depicts Hitler viewing an exhibit of the despised work.

Hilter viewing Degenerate Art exhibitThis show opened in March and runs till Sept 1, 2014.

If you go

Neue Galerie New York
1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street)
New York, NY 10028

(212) 628-6200

Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 am to 6 pm. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). To avoid lines, best to go mid-week at about 4 pm.

Children under 12 not admitted; children aged 12-16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Admission General $20; Students and seniors (65 and older) $10.
First Fridays: The museum is open to the public free from 6 to 8 pm on the first Friday of every month.

A charming Austrian café serves wine and food.

Photos by Hulya Kolabas.

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