Berlin Gets New Modern Art Museum 76 Years After Nazi Ban


A brand new Modern Art museum is to be built in Berlin directly behind Berlin’s New National Gallery, 76 years after Modern Art was outlawed by the Nazis. Berlin has given the go ahead to build a new museum to house its 20th Century art, as well as a collection donated by Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch which includes art by Rothko, Dali and Joan Miro. The works of art are valued at 150m (£96m) euros.

‘Entartete Kunst’ or ‘Degenerate Art’ included, Cubism, Dada and surrealism. The majority of the ruling Nazi Party, spearheaded by Adolf Hitler, a failed former art student, banned the new art which was labelled elitist and morally suspect. Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany had emerged as a leading capital for the avant-garde. It was the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture.

The Nazis viewed the culture of the Weimar period as decadent. As dictator, Hitler enforced his personal taste in art by passings laws banning much of the contemporary art of the day. He viewed Germany as the model for a return to classical Greek and Roman art. Modern Art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. These included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art entirely.

Entartete Kunst/Degenerate Art was also the title of an exhibition, mounted by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of modernist artworks salon hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.

With all of this in the distant past, Berlin is now once again a leading capital for Contemporary art, sparking such events as Berlin Art Week  (annually held in September) and the home of major art fairs bringing in art dealers and enthusiasts from around the globe. Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, said the new dedicated 20th Century art museum was the ideal solution . He added the building was needed urgently “not just because of the Pietzsch collection, but because there is no room to exhibit our own 20th Century collection”.

The new gallery will cost 130m euro (£111m), 9,900 sq m venue be situated in the city’s Cultural Forum. If building work starts next year, the museum it could be finished and ready to open by 2022. The agreement ends a long dispute over an initial plan to move the city’s collection of Old Master paintings out of its current home at the Gemaldegalerie and build a new home for it on the Unesco-listed Museum Island to make way for the 20th Century collection.


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