HYPERALLERGIC | By Robert Moeller
This exhibition includes the work of nearly 50 artists all living and working under varying circumstances during World War II, and who all reemerged to begin reshaping German art after it ended.
Inventur, Art in Germany, 1943–55 is a remarkable exhibition, but not because any of the work itself is particularly groundbreaking. It isn’t. What’s notable is that during this specific time, the decade or so after the end of World War II, any art was made at all. Indeed, historians still refer to this period as a gap in the study of German art history. This is understandable, given the restrictions placed on artists by the Nazi government before and during the war and the collapse of Germany afterwards. The thread is only picked up again in 1955 during the first iteration of “Documenta” in Kassel where German reengagement with the international art world began to take place.
Inventur situates itself between the utter depravity of the war and the beginning of moral and economic recovery. It offers insight into both the cultural fanaticism present during the 30’s and 40’s and how Germany produced an indoctrinated population both mostly unfamiliar with modern art and highly antagonistic toward it. The exhibition doesn’t assume that any artists were complicit with the crimes and atrocities of the Nazis, though to what degree some might have been, even in some small way, is less clear, and perhaps impossible to tell. Stories changed after the war and not only in Germany…read more
Image: Installation view Inventur | Art in Germany, 1943–55 at the Harvard Art Museums