Several days ago, The Colorado Sun posted a story on a book. The story made me gasp.
The headline: Is Denver’s contemporary architecture killing us? The lead-in: Denver architect Don Ruggles worries that the odd angles and sharp points meant to excite are also causing neuroaesthetic problems. “This is a public-health issue, not a style issue.”
The book is called Beauty, Neuroscience and Architecture, and considers the connection between brain science and aesthetic appreciation.
What is so troubling here? Is there something you remember from a history class or an art class or a World War II movie? Something that feels troubling? Like Entartete Kunst, or Degenerate Art?
The Museum of Modern Art in New York, an early supporter of modern art, notes:
“In the first decades of the 20th century, radical new art flourished in Germany. Established museums collected and exhibited contemporary work by Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, and others, introducing them to a wide international audience that included Alfred H. Barr, Jr., MoMA’s founding director. After Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, Nazi agencies began to dismantle this progressive collection policy. In the years that followed, the Nazis removed more than 20,000 artworks from state-owned museums. In 1937, 740 modern works were exhibited in the defamatory show Degenerate Art in Munich in order to ‘educate’ the public on the ‘art of decay.’ The exhibition purported to demonstrate that modernist tendencies, such as abstraction, are the result of genetic inferiority and society’s moral decline. An explicit parallel, for example, was drawn between modernism and mental illness.” (My underlining.)
Meanwhile, the Nazi government shut down the Bauhaus, a progressive school in Dessau that supported the concept of reflecting the unity of all the arts. Many of the artists and the Bauhaus students and teachers fled, as you can imagine — including to the United States.
In our country’s current political atmosphere, and considering the tragic impact of that period, that’s why I gasped.
Several links are below.