Test your knowledge with a quiz
- The persecution of political adversaries and marginalized groups of people began years before the start of World War II. Witnessing the rise of fascism during the 1930s, many artists and intellectuals sensed the dangers of remaining in Germany and emigrated to America.
- In 1937, the opening of the Degenerate Art exhibition represented a fascist attack on art and culture. It included work by many artists who had been politically engaged and often critical of the National Socialist party. Meant to ridicule the international avant-garde, the exhibition highlighted modernism as an example of a sick (or degenerate) society.
- As an expressionist artist, George Grosz combines elements of both abstraction and representational figure painting to evoke sensations of reflection and memory.
See this work in the Minneapolis Institute of Art
See images from the Degenerate Art exhibition and read more about it
Learn about Germany in the years between the world wars
Read the press release for the 1941 exhibit of George Grosz’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
Learn more about the history of German immigrants in America
Read about America’s immigration policies during World War II and the U.S. response to the Holocaust
More to think about
With the Degenerate Art exhibition, the Nazis openly criticized artists who expressed differing political viewpoints or challenged artistic traditions with modernist experiments. Why do you think totalitarian governments would think it necessary to censor and suppress the work of modern artists?