home > archive > 2007 > this article

Search this site Search WWW

The march to control is still on

By Kerry L. Marsala
web posted August 20, 2007

"In the Third Reich mothers have no need to defend their children. The state does that."- The Nazis declared that Kollwitz's works be sent to the cellar of the Crown Prince Palace.

All too often history repeats itself, and from whence we have come and with the prevailing attitudes it would seem history is deemed to occur again and again. It wasn't long ago that there were those who were in power who began to control the masses as to what was acceptable in the arts and what was not. It was during the years between 1927-37 that the National Socialist Society for German Culture aimed their organizational efforts to halt what they viewed as being a corruption of art. The elitists of this movement were bent on the deluge that there was a cross relationship between race and art. It was the year, 1933, and the terms "Jewish," "Degenerate," and "Bolshevik" were in common use to describe almost all-modern art.

The exhibit of artists and their creations in 1937 was put on display in an exhibition known as, "Entartete Kunst" or "Degenerate Art". The exhibition was designed to humiliate those who thought outside the traditional box and ideals of the Third Reich and the perpetuation by Hitler that anything outside his twisted sense of purity was to be forbade, and destroyed. The artists, not only had their art rebuked, and destroyed - but if they were Jewish they were to be taken off to concentration camps. Many artists within the industry as a whole were not only mocked, but were driven into exile.

It would seem for some that if hindsight was indeed 20/20 they would still be trying to use their rose colored glasses to enhance what they don't really want to see clearly, for the avant-garde still exist today in many forms of what they will call "art" and what they deem allowable for consumers to view or own.

Currently in Southampton an exhibition is causing quite a stir, not to the point of course of what the Nazi's did, but the atmosphere of those who like to define what is acceptable and what isn't still prevails. The controversy centers itself around the depiction of the Holy Trinity, represented as three white business shirts hung from a line with three pairs of underpants and handkerchiefs. The artist, Chris Lewis-Jones, stated that it was an essay on English spirituality and questions the extent to which man was made in God's image. Another one of the art pieces called, Patriotic Pants, shows a pair of green underpants splashed over the Union Jack and Kurdish script scrawled over the top. In a brief statement Lewis-Jones stated that, it questions "the antipathy that still characterizes the relationship between the worlds of Islam and Christendom".

Condemnation and ridicule are now on the menu, as The Rev.4 Ian Johnson, chairman of the South-Hampton Council of Faiths, labeled the work as "pretentious" and said it was "not art". There was comparable criticism from the Muslim Council of Southampton, with Azad Majid describing the exhibition as "crude and juvenile", even adding the final words of his disdain as, "Instead I came out of the exhibition extremely disappointed by a handful of artist who, in an attempt to be risqué, used pre-pubescent themes to emphasize their contempt for religion."

It would seem that when an artist offends or makes a statement that creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for the viewer, that criticism and censorship are the order of the day.

Why do you ask did I decide that these thoughts were news worthy and worth sharing with the artists here? Speaking as an artist of various mediums, my experience is vast in working with galleries and exhibition showings that I've been involved with over the years. It is a trend I am noticing overall, this picking and choosing what one will allow to be represented art to the masses and what is considered garbage or "crude and juvenile". True the established gallery's and exhibitors of the arts are the owners and can make their judgment calls of what they want to display and have their name attached to, but the simple fact of the matter is this- political correctness has touched the arts community- when a painting called The Scarlet Lady was banned from an artist gallery for its depiction of a woman's backside. It was found to be vulgar, and the gallery worried it would be to offensive to the public. Yet this same work can be seen on display at another gallery twenty miles north… as a beautiful representation of a woman marked by society.

Art is individual, it is held within its own defining by the creator and not for the elite to decide what the proper etiquette of depiction was, nor try and demean the creator. How can a few with power in a community decide what is to be acceptable or not to the masses? Yes, contests, exhibits, and galleries have the right to reject or accept what they will display and honor- freedom of ones own ideals is a supported belief amongst those in the art community, but labeling for the sake of ones own personal opinions and remarks of degradation are uncalled for. Lest we repeat a time in history when the extreme took place, let us be watchful and mindful of how we cross our own personal points of view with the freedom of expression.

The Third Reich's misguided hatred and supremacy doctrine included some of modern arts greatest contributors. They were Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Fuhrmann and many others. These artists had something to say, and their freedom of expression a few elite tried to squelch… God help us all if we don't learn from our past. ESR

Kerry L. Marsala is a freelance journalist who is terrible at being patient enough to check punctuation and grammar. She figures if Bernard Shaw can get away with it, she might have a chance too.


Send a link to this page!
Send a link to this story





Site Map

E-mail ESR

Musings - ESR's blog

Submit to Digg

1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.