‘Divinely Gifted’. National Socialism's Favoured Artists in the Federal Republic
The list of 'divinely gifted' individuals was compiled by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in August 1944. It contained 378 artists, 114 of them sculptors or painters, who were considered 'indispensable' and were exempt from front-line military service and the labour service. With a few exceptions, the celebrated figures in National Socialist art production, such as Arno Breker, Hermann Kaspar, Willy Meller, Werner Peiner, Richard Scheibe and Adolf Wamper, continued to work in the Federal Republic after 1945. They occupied teaching positions, took part in award ceremonies and competitions, received commissions from political and commercial clients, and frequently created works of art for public spaces. Their designs for statues, relief sculptures and tapestries on squares, on facades and in foyers influence the atmosphere of many German city centres to this day.
This exhibition by the Deutsches Historisches Museum examines the post-war careers of the former 'divinely gifted' visual artists for the first time. Their networks, their choices of motif and subject, and the reception of their work are all brought to light, with reference to the related questions of continuity and adaptability.
In conjunction with the parallel exhibition, documenta. Politics and Art, it will also reappraise the idea, associated with the show in Kassel until now, that in aesthetic terms a radical fresh start was made in the Federal Republic.
The exhibition is curated by Wolfgang Brauneis.