The Confiscation of "Degenerate Art" 1937–38

After Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power on January 30, 1933, numerous museum directors who had collected modern art were dismissed from their posts. Their successors moved the forbidden works of modern art into storage, or put them into  “horror chambers” so they could be criticized and denounced.
The same year, the exhibition “Degenerate Art” was mounted in Dresden; it included work by Otto Dix, Hans Grunding, Eugen Hoffmann, and Christoph Voll, and travelled to numerous German cities from 1934 to 1936. On July 19, 1937, one day after the “House of German Art” opened, the vilifying show “Degenerate Art”, organized by Joseph Goebbels, opened in the neighboring Hofgarten. For the show, 650 works were confiscated from 32 German museums.
While variations of this exhibition were shown in other venues throughout Germany and Austria, an additional 17,000 art works were confiscated from more than 100 museums, the majority of which were later sold on the international art market as a source of foreign currency or as barter objects (possible through the “Law on the Confiscation of Products of Degenerate Art” passed on May 31, 1938).  This wave of confiscation essentially liquidated modern art in Germany.
The Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at the Free University of Berlin has compiled a complete list of all the works of “degenerate art” that were confiscated from German museums in 1937-38 and has made this list available on an online database. It can be searched by artist, work, and image.

Exhibition „Degenerate Art“, Munich, Zentralarchiv der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin © bpk – Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte

Stretch your view


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