The Secrecy created by WWII “Degenerate Art” and the life of Cornelius Gurlitt.

The Secrecy created by WWII “Degenerate Art” and the life of Cornelius Gurlitt.

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Hitler’s label for what is now called modern art was “degenerate art”. This refers to the idea of a degrading of the ideals Hitler had of the German people and his ideal Germany. It is associated with Jewish or partial Jewish painters such as Max Liebermann. These works were targeted at the beginning of Hitler’s reign and should not be confused with later looted art, or spoils of war taken during Nazi occupation. Hitler used museum curators and art historians that were willing to remove the works of artist like Chagall, Lieberman, and Picasso. The works were then sold to fund the Nazi party. In November 2013 the press reported on a large stash of these
“degenerate art” paintings found in an apartment in Munich, Germany. Cornelius Gurtlitt, an elderly gentleman in his late seventies, under investigation for tax evasion was reported to have 1,400 works of art stashed in his apartment (States News Service). Mr. Gurlitt claims that the works belonged to him and were collected by his father Hldebrand Gurlitt. In this paper I would like to look at the issue of family secrets related to the collection art. Why these works of art create such an obsession among their collectors that they are willing to create family secrets that effect generations.
In the case of Cornelius Gurlitt his life was transformed by his father’s activities during World War II. Dr. Hildebrand Gurlitt directed the Zwichua Museum before Hitler’s rise to power was removed as director for “pursuing an artistic policy affronting the healthy folk feeling of Germany” (Nicholas,9). Despite this he would later be considered one of the head art dealers for Hitler selling the types of work that he was fired for showing in the Zwichau Museum. It is possible that through...


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...Phanton Cornelius Gurlitt Shares His Secrets." Spiegel Online. N.p., 17 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. .
Meyer, Karl E. "Who Owns the Spoil of War?" Archaelogy 48.4 (1995): 46-52. JSTOR. Web. 19 Jan. 2014.
Meyer, Karl E. "Who (Really) Owns the Spoils of War?" World Policy Journal 23.1 (2006): 85-91. JSTOR. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.
"Mystery Shrouds Discovery of Art Trove Stolen by Nazis." Times of Oman [Muscat] 5 Nov. 2013: n. pag. Infotrac Newstand. Web. 19 Jan. 2014.
Nicholas, Lynn H. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York: Knopf, 1994. Print.
"Under Pressure, Germany Speeds Investigation of Nazi-:Looted Art." States News Service 11 Nov. 2013: n. pag. Infotrac Newstand. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

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