In 1930s Germany, modern art collided with Nazi hate. Works by abstract pioneers clashed with the classical tradition that fed Adolf Hitler’s Aryan fervor, and contemporary works were stripped from German museums. Munich’s “Degenerate Art Exhibition” of 1937 famously mocked a range of designs. Many artists lost their teaching positions and were banned from practicing. Yet many continued to create in secret, and their output blossomed after the war.
Now some of those creations are on view at Harvard.
“These are modern artists who for the most part could not work or exhibit publicly during the Nazi period,” said Lynette Roth, curator of “Inventur — Art in Germany, 1943‒55,” on view at the Harvard Art Museums through June 3. The show explores an era of German art-making that has drawn scant attention from American art historians and museums, said Roth, the Daimler Curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum. But the more than 160 works by close to 50 artists, ranging from photographs and paintings to sculpture and collage, document a 12-year span marked by creativity, invention, and national torment.