A painting once owned by Adolf Hitler will soon be on view in New York.
A show focused on the 1937 exhibition of “degenerate” modern art staged by the Nazis opens this spring at New York’s Neue Galerie. Among the pieces will be Adolf Ziegler’s kitschy triptych The Four Elements (1937), which was approved of by the Nazis and owned by the Führer. It features academically styled nude women in the guise of earth, air, fire and water. Presenting over 80 paintings, sculptures and works on paper along with photographs and memorabilia, “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937” (Mar. 13-June 30) offers works by artists such as Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee and Emil Nolde. The expressionistic quality of many of these works, with their often distorted colors and vigorous brushwork, offended Nazi tastes.
The show is organized by art historian Olaf Peters, who sits on the museum’s board. It is the first major U.S. museum presentation on the subject since the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 1991 show “‘Degenerate Art’: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany.”
One gallery will contrast Reich-approved art of the period, such as the Ziegler triptych, with artwork that the Nazis called “degenerate.” Many such works were seized by the Reich and included in an exhibition that traveled throughout Germany and Austria.
The Neue Galerie exhibition comes on the heels of the recent discovery of a trove of Nazi-looted art in Munich. It will open just a month after the premiere of The Monuments Men, a feature film starring and directed by George Clooney that tells the story of the U.S. military officials charged with protecting cultural heritage during World War II.