Hitler vs Picasso and the Others: The Nazi Obsession for Art

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Hitler vs Picasso and the Others: The Nazi Obsession for Art

In 1937 Pablo Picasso created his first overtly political work—Guernica, which depicts the bombing of the Basque city by fascist forces—declaring that artists “should not remain indifferent to a conflict in which the highest values of humanity and civilization are at stake.” That same year the Nazis answered Picasso’s challenge with their own parallel exhibitions, designed to expose the alleged depravity of modern artists: “The Degenerate Art Exhibition” boasting some 650 works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, and “The Great German Art Exhibition,” images glorifying the Aryan ideal. This immersive documentary from Italy, narrated by Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty, Il Divo), examines the Nazi obsession with the value and power of art, whether masterworks seized from dealers and private collectors—many of them Jewish families—or their attempts to bend artists to their own purposes. It’s filled with stories of the families that fell victim to Nazi looting and of modern-day efforts to recover those collections for their descendants—including the recent unearthing of treasures hidden away by Hitler’s dealer, Cornelius Gurlitt.

This film is part of the FrameWorks 2018: Art on Film series.

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