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‘Divinely Gifted’. National Socialism's Favoured Artists in the Federal Republic

Many renowned protagonists of the National Socialist art scene continued to be active as full-time visual artists after 1945. They produced works for the public space, received lucrative commissions from government, industry and the churches, taught at the art academies, submitted proposals to art competitions and were represented in exhibitions. They were able to profit from the anti-modernist climate that still prevailed in the immediate post-war decades. The point of departure for the first exhibition on this topic is the so-called “Divinely Gifted List”, which was compiled on behalf of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in 1944. The 114 sculptors and painters on the list were considered “indispensable” and were exempt from military duty and work assignments. The post-war careers of such “divinely gifted” artists as Willy Meller, Adolf Wamper, Arno Breker, Hermann Kaspar, Werner Peiner or Paul Mathias Padua contradicted the image of a fresh start in the politics of art after 1945. The exhibition sheds light on their careers and networks as well as their thematic choices and the reception of their works in order to deal with the questions of continuities, expectations and adaptations to the prevailing atmosphere.

The exhibition is curated by Wolfgang Brauneis.