How National Socialist artists continued their careers after 1945

"Divinely Gifted". National Socialism's favoured artists in the Federal Republic

27 August to 5 December 2021

Many renowned protagonists of the National Socialist art scene continued working in the Federal Republic as full-time visual artists after 1945. They produced works to be displayed in public spaces, received lucrative commissions from government, industry and church organisations, taught at art academies, submitted proposals to art competitions and were represented in exhibitions. Their designs for statues, reliefs and tapestries on public squares and façades or in theatre and cinema foyers have left their mark to this day on the face of many city centres. They were able to profit from the anti-modernist climate in the early post-war decades.

In an exhibition opening on 27 August 2021, the Deutsches Historisches Museum takes the "Divinely Gifted List" as the point of departure for a study of the largely neglected topic of the post-war careers of such "divinely gifted" artists as Arno Breker, Hermann Kaspar, Willy Meller, Paul Mathias Padua, Werner Peiner, Richard Scheibe and Adolf Wamper. The list was first compiled on behalf of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in August 1944: 378 artists, among them 114 sculptors and painters, were considered "indispensable" and were exempted from military duty and work assignments.

The exhibition "'Divinely Gifted'. National Socialism's favoured artists in the Federal Republic" shows for the first time the strong presence of these artists in public spaces, but also in the institutions of political, economic and cultural life in post-war Germany. It also examines their networks, the choice of their motifs, and the reception of their works as well as the related questions of continuity and adaptation to the new circumstances. Reinforced by the parallel exhibition "documenta. Politics and Art" (18.6.2021 - 9.1.2022), the idea of a supposedly radical, cultural-political new beginning in the young Federal Republic has thus had to be revised.

The exhibition is supported by the Kulturstiftung Des Bundes.

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