The beneficial side-effects of censorship


Cover of the 1937 guide book to the Degenerate art exhibition.

Cover of the 1937 guide book to the  Degenerate Art Exhibition.

Nazi Germany disapproved of contemporary German art movements such as Expressionism and Dada and on July 19, 1937 it opened the travelling exhibition in the Haus der Kunst in Munich, consisting of modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art, to inflame public opinion against modernity and Judaism. The cover the 1937 guide book (illustration top) features a sculpture of unknown origin. It could be Polynesian or any other tribal art work, please help me out here.

The sculpture clearly links modern art with primitivism.

This exhibition is also a perfect illustration of the beneficial side-effects of censorship. Beneficial in the sense that any attempt at banning works of art, books or other cultural artifacts results in an aide to discerning culturati to seek out these artifacts with zeal. Such has been the case with Video Nasties, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (the Catholic Index) and the Degenerate Art expo mentioned above.

I once again repeat my question to you, dear reader: what is the origin of the statue depicted in the picture above. I thank  you beforehand for a reply.

7 thoughts on “The beneficial side-effects of censorship

  1. Rasmus

    Sure, although these beneficial side-effects only apply to artifacts.
    When performing arts, or net art, are censored, they can hardly be found…

  2. jahsonic

    Ah yes, so very true. As a one-time victim of internet censorship, I know perfectly what you mean. He backup served me well at that time.

    As for performance: try to always document what you do. If the time is not right for the performance, maybe someday it will be.

    No discussion of the “benefits of censorship” is the succès de scandale factor.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.


  3. jahsonic

    Thanks again Mr. Rumsey,

    I could not find online where this photo came from.

    I wonder if this image is in the public domain. Are Nazi cultural artifacts in the public domain?

    As for Freundlich, I will try to trace the origin of his obviously tribal inspirations. Do you have any idea? I’m interested in the influence of non-Western art’s influence on Western art

    Thanks again.

  4. Paul Rumsey

    Google image search entartete kunst and you find the image on many websites.
    The book you need for the influence of non-Western art on Western art is the 2 volume catalogue from MOMA, NY, “Primitivism” In 20th Century Art.
    To my eyes the Western art looks weak in comparison with the non-Western.
    There was a show at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, “Inner Worlds Outside” where art by “Outsider” artists was hung beside art by mainstream artists whose art was influenced by “Outsider” art, or bore formal simularities to it.
    For me the “Outsider” art looked superior.
    This was not a view shared by the critics.
    Richard Dorment wrote in the Telegraph “A new exhibition disastrously fails to draw distinctions between the work of the sane and the insane, …..”Inner Worlds Outside” at the Whitechapel is a wicked, pernicious exhibition based on a false premise and proselytising for an evil idea.”

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