Cult of Art in Nazi Germany

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The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany presents a new interpretation of National Socialism, arguing that art in the Third Reich was not simply an instrument of the regime, but actually became a source of the racist politics upon which its ideology was founded. Through the myth of the "Aryan race," a race pronounced superior because it alone creates culture, Nazism asserted art as the sole raison d'être of a regime defined by Hitler as the "dictatorship of genius." Michaud shows the important link between the religious nature of Nazi art and the political movement, revealing that in Nazi Germany art was considered to be less a witness of history than a force capable of producing future, the actor capable of accelerating the coming of a reality immanent to art itself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Cult of Art in Nazi Germany is a provocative attempt to analyze systematically an essential characteristic of the National Socialist state, namely, the unification of art and ritual in what the author sees as 'the Nazi myth.'"—History of Religions

"...this is an intriguing book that will undoubtedly fascinate many who are interested in theories about images and their potential power."—Journal of Modern History

"[T]his well-researched and nicely illustrated book analyzes the place of art within National Socialist ideology and culture....anyone with an interest in Nazism or art history, including non-specialists, stands to benefit from reading this book."—Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire

"A good book for anyone interested in getting into the "why" of the Nazi movement."—The NYMAS Review

"A highly original work offering a wealth of new material and a radically new perspective. It could be said that this book is a highly convincing documentation of Walter Benjamin's famous statement that fascism is the aestheticisation of politics. Michaud's analysis is provocative and disquieting because it relentlessly reveals the deep interrelation of a long aesthetic and artistic tradition of the 'creative artist' and central motifs of Christianity."—Rainer Nägele, Johns Hopkins University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804743273
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2004
  • Series: Cultural Memory in the Present Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Michaud is Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

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Table of Contents

1 Artist and Dictator 1
Authority founded on art 2
The art of life 17
2 The Artist-Fuhrer : a savior 26
A government of artists 29
Suggestion and incorporation 38
Propaganda and anticipation 42
Wagnerian rehearsals 52
November 9 : the Erlebnis in painting 64
3 Exhibiting the genius 74
The visibility of the Aryan genius : a national Christianity 75
Awakening into the myth 84
Producing the genius 101
The processions 102
The temple 109
4 Reproducing the genius 123
Schultze-Naumberg and the race's self-reproduction 127
Engendering through images 134
Walter Darre : breeding according to type 140
Prodigies and monsters 148
Accelerators 155
Gottfried Benn or the endogenous image 165
The images underlying words : purification 171
5 Images of Nazi time : accelerations and immobilizations 181
Images and anticipation 182
Accelerations 186
Artists, workers, and soldiers : total mobilization 195
A pure present 204
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