Histories in Conflict: Haus der Kunst and the Ideological Uses of Art, 1937-1955

Posted filed underGermany, Politics, Propaganda, Shows.


“This year Haus der Kunst marks the 75th anniversary of its public opening. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to reflect on the historical legacy of the museum, especially on the building as an icon of ideological power; on the various positions of art through its history and the stories of what it is today.”(Okwui Enwezor)
In 2012, Haus der Kunst opens its doors for its 75th year. At the same time, it looks back upon its 20-year existence as Stiftung Haus der Kunst München GmbH. Aware of its history and its legacy as a Nazi instrument of power, the exhibition “Histories in Conflict: Haus der Kunst and the Ideological Use of Art 1937-1955″ investigates the institution’s international connections; the relationships between the Great German Art Exhibition and the vilifying exhibition “Degenerate Art“, or, for example, between Albert Speer’s German pavilion for the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, in which a model of the House of German Art was exhibited, and the Spanish pavilion, in which Picasso’s “Guernica” – an icon of anti-war art – was on view. “Histories in Conflict” covers the important period from 1937, in which the fate of the European avant-garde was still in abeyance, to the period of its condemnation until 1955, when it regained respect. Both the exhibition “Picasso” in Haus der Kunst, which presented the painting “Guernica” for the first time in Germany, and Arnold Bode’s documenta 1 took place in 1955. By exhibiting works by artists who had been condemned in the “Degenerate Art” exhibition in 1937, Haus der Kunst aimed to reconnect with international modernism. “Histories in Conflict” depicts, in an exemplary manner, what Okwui Enwezor understands a “reflexive museum” to be: committed to contemporary art, while simultaneously examining and mediating the historical dimension of the contemporary. For the exhibition, Haus der Kunst invited the Swiss conceptual artist Christian Philipp Müller to develop a dramaturgy which traces the building’s history.
As part of the programs marking its 75th anniversary, Haus der Kunst also shows the exhibition “Image Counter Image”. Occupying the vectors where global media industries, artistic reflexivity, and ideological power intersect, the two exhibitions undertake to explore the complex zones of mediatized image regimes and artistic propaganda in organizing public opinion. A two-day symposium is dedicated to the historical and theoretical issues surrounding the exhibitions.


Adolf Hitler and Adolf Ziegler inspect the installation by Willrich and Hansen of the Degenerate Art Show, 1937.

- Haus der Kunst on Youtube
- Deutsche Welle: When Hitler defined Art

Rare footage from the show “Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art)” in Munich, Germany, 1937

Solving the Mystery of ‘Degenerate Art’ in Berlin

From the canadian series Museum Secrets

Secrets of World War II — The Nazi Plundering of Europe

Throughout occupied Europe the Nazis systematically plundered the continent’s museums, galleries, and private collections. At the war’s end, a massive effort was mounted by the Allies to locate the missing art treasures and return them to their rightful owners. But even today many great objects are still unlocated.