Monday, November 05, 2007

Kunst über Arbeit

Undaunted, Whitney Gould returns to the Grohmann Art Museum at MSOE. She really doesn't like it. Why, it even has a kraut "Kaiserkopf" dome, (Actually, it looks more like R2D2 to me.)

I am interested, however, in how one treats "Nazi art." As we know from last week's proceedings,, Gould and a colleague had an front page piece of Riefenstahlian proportions in the Sunday Journal Sentinel (10/28) pointing out that one of the artists featured in a exhibit of paintings about "Men at Work" had a number of those paintings commissioned by the German Chancellery during the Third Reich.

I don't believe - and I don't understand Gould to argue - that we ought to ignore Nazi art. I can't speak on the Mercker paintings at the Grohman, but Leni Riefenstahl's films Triumph of the Will and Olympia are stunningly good (if overlong).

But, at the same time, they are odious and, in a way, that makes them interesting in a different way. How does genius get subordinated to evil ends? That it can ought to tell us something about the limits of human invention.

So I actually agree with Gould's suggestion today that the provence of the Mercker paintings ought to be made clear. I think it would improve the exhibit for viewers to know that the muscular industry portrayed by them was placed in the service of evil.

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