An exhibition in Berlin and London on the largest counter-exhibition to the Nazi propaganda art show “Degenerate Art”
In July 1937, the propaganda art show “Degenerate Art” opened in Munich. It was the public manifestation of Nazi cultural policy and went on tour through numerous cities in the Third Reich. In the following year, curators in London opened a counter-exhibition titled “Twentieth Century German Art” comprised of 300 modern masterpieces – the largest exhibition of German art ever presented in Great Britain to this day. Although the exhibition has since faded from memory, it was one of the largest projects of exiled artists of that period. It was curated by an international group of art historians, critics and gallery owners. Around half of the displays were provided by German exiles and artists, whom the Nazis had defamed as “degenerate”.
2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of the London exhibition. The Liebermann Villa in Berlin has used the anniversary as an opportunity to reconstruct the original exhibition based on research by the British art historian Dr. Lucy Wasensteiner. Max Liebermann was one of the most prominent artists featured in the exhibition with 22 artworks. His work has served as the starting point for the exhibition, in which a selection of the original pieces, information about the former lenders and the press reviews from that time have been presented and annotated. In the lead-up to the exhibition in Berlin, the renowned Wiener Library in London, home to the world’s oldest Holocaust archive, has presented a documentary exhibition featuring writings, plans and interior photos of the original exhibition “Twentieth Century German Art”, thereby re-opening a forgotten chapter of German-British art history.
Artistic director: Lucy Wasensteiner
Curators: Martin Faass, Christine Schmidt (GB), Barbara Warnock (GB)