Art, politics, and totalitarianism in the Third Reich / by Kathleen Talpas
Includes bibliographical references (p. 161-166)
Totalitarianism has been studied extensively from every possible angle save one, the relationship between totalitarian political institutions and the art world. Because the officially approved artistic products of the Nazi regime and the USSR under Stalin were unrelentingly bad, they were given little scholarly attention. It is often taken for granted that bad regimes will inevitably produce bad art, though the Middle Ages, a repressive period in Western history by contemporary standards, produced some of the most glorious art ever created. The very fact that regimes committed to using culture as an instrument of revolution were unable to produce an official culture of any quality is revealing in itself. First, it illustrates the general incompatibility of politics and the life of the mind, committed to separate goals. The more intense the deliberate political penetration of society, to the extreme represented by life under Nazism, the harder it is to produce good art. The artistic failures of Nazism also show that totalitarianism is not simply "hyper-politics," but a distinct form of political organization.
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