‘Entartete Kunst’ (or ‘Degenerate Art’) was a derogatory term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany. An exhibition entitled ‘Entartete Kunst’ opened in Munich in 1937 displaying works deemed to be ‘an insult to German feeling’ and went on to tour the country. The ‘degenerate’ verdict applied to virtually all German modernist art, and the works of prominent painters such as Picasso, Chagall and the surrealists.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London holds the only known copy, mostly during 1937 and 1938. The list of more than 16,000 artworks was produced by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) in 1942 or thereabouts. It seems that the inventory was compiled as a final record, after the sales and disposals of the confiscated art had been completed in the summer of 1941. The inventory’s two typescript volumes provide crucial information about the provenance, exhibition history and fate of each artwork.
In early February, the V&A in London will release online the only surviving full copy of the list in two volumes, covering cities in alphabetical order from Aachen to Zwickau, identifying most of the buyers of the works and the prices paid. It also specifies many of the 5,000+ paintings, drawings and prints which were believed to have been burnt in the courtyard of Berlin’s main fire station in 1939.
For further information, visit http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/e/entartete-kunst/