Sunday, January 9, 2011

Classicism and Fascism

 Adolf Ziegler, "Four Elements" (1937)
This painting is one of 10 or so that culminate the "Chaos and Classicism" show at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. The description of the painting includes a photo showing it hanging in Adolf Hitler's Munich apartment.

To look at the painting and realize that to do so is to share in some sense the gaze of its original owner is disturbing. It reminded me of a side trip to Potsdam I made in June 1999. Driving down from Berlin, we went past a beautiful lake. "The Wannsee," the driver told us. It was on its shores that the Holocaust was planned. The Nazis' taint is palpable, and I felt it in this painting. Would I have if the photo had been omitted?