at the Whitney Society
544 Camp Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Adolf at the Whitney
A Modest Proposal
The gains of postmodern art criticism are legendary. It has deconstructed the crumbling pillars of aesthetic and moral judgement. It has seen to it that no clique is left behind. It has elevated self justification to a fine art and in the process created a richness of syntax that makes Heidegger seem like Mickey Spillane. But ironically after all this ground breaking work, it has balked at taking on what would be its finest achievement.... ironic because after antiquating aesthetic and moral judgement it has allowed political correctness and aesthetic absolutism to stand in the way of elevating Adolf Hitler to his proper place as the greatest artist of the 20th century.
It is amazing that at this late date there are those who still scoff at the idea of Hitler even being an artist, never mind the greatest artist of the 20th century. Picasso is their choice. Absurd. After all, who's greater, the man who created a memento of Guernica or the man who created Guernica?
The fact that Hitler himself regarded himself as an artist means little. These critics derisively point to his early work they dismiss as pedantic and uninspired, completely missing the point that as a visionary he was preparing to leapfrog over scores of modernism's pet fads... impressionism, fauvism, surrealism, etc..right into the heart of postmodernism. In their defense this all would take place on an unimagined scale. They were not prepared to see WW2 as a happening, Buchenwald as an installation, and the rubble of Rotterdam and Stalingrad as conceptual art. Perhaps it was the fact that he could use the Luftwaffe rather than a local moving company to place the rubble obscured his artistic achievement. There are not many artsts who can count on the Wehrmacht as part of their palette.
Critics continue to believe that just because he had a rather consuming day job, he was politically motivated. Not only critics but historians as well have been pursuing the Hitler as political animal theory to its sorry end, making many of his momentous decisions "mistakes" in the process. They are only mistakes because they are erroneously regarded as political rather than artistic. Hitler was not a politician who dabbled in art, he was an artist who dabbled in politics and used it to further his art. Who but an artist could have been so jealous of other artists? Hitler was an artist from begininng to end. The time is long overdue for the crowning achievement of postmodernism, a retrospective of Adolf Hitler's work at the Whitney.
It's decades overdue because everyone so completely misunderstood Goering's utterance, "When I hear the word culture... I reach for my revolver. (This of course was his paraphrase of "Whenever I hear the word culture... I release the safety catch of my Browning!" from Hanns Johst's play, Schlageter). They took it for some atavistic attack on culture when it was a brilliant postmodernist expansion of the notion of culture.Goering after all was an avid art collector, perhaps over avid, and Johst was a playright. The critics couldn't see past the patina of archaic revival and the distortions associated with the infantile stage of Fascism. The mature Fascism we have now not only has more transparent and better production values, but more importantly sees no need to exterminate people, when it can simply reduce them to shoppers.