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An Artist Against the Third Reich: Ernst Barlach 1933-1938

An Artist Against the Third Reich: Ernst Barlach 1933-1938

By Peter Paret

"...an important intellectual biography of a nonpolitical artist who was forced to become a dissident, but also a lens by which to view the evolution of Hitler's war against abstract art." ―The Weekly Standard

"[Paret] succinctly assesses the artist's threat to the Nazi agenda - in particular, by setting Barlach's spare, mournful monuments to World War I against popular tributes to the invincible Reich. Wholly compelling yet never celebratory, Paret's account grants for Barlach his long-due regard in English." ―Publishers Weekly

"[T]he historian Peter Paret's Artist Against the Third Reich sheds much light on the tortured evolution of Nazi policy." ―New York Times

The conflict between National Socialism and Ernst Barlach, one of the important sculptors of the twentieth century, is an unusual episode in the history of Hitler's efforts to rid Germany of 'international modernism.' Barlach did not passively accept the destruction of his sculptures, but protested the injustice, and continued his work. Peter Paret's discussion of Barlach's art and struggle over creative freedom, is joined to an analysis of Barlach's opponents. Hitler's rejection of modernism, often dismissed as absurd ranting, is instead interpreted as an internally consistent and politically effective critique of liberal Western culture. That some radical national socialists nevertheless advocated a 'nordic modernism' and tried to win Barlach over, indicates the cultural cross-currents running through the early years of the Third Reich. Paret's closely focused study of an artist in a time of crisis seamlessly combines the history of modern Germany and the history of modern art.

Hard cover
248 pages
Cambridge University Press, 2003 
6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
ISBN 9780521821384
Artist Monographs, Sculpture

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