History's Shadow: German Art and the Formulation of National Identity

When: March 13-June 5 2014

My favorite World War II documentary is a film titled The Architecture of Doom. It’s not a movie about soldiers and strife or conquest and courage. Instead, director Peter Cohen examines Hitler’s Third Reich as a grand aesthetic experiment in which a failed painter creates a false utopia through the lens of his own artistic vision. It’s a unique entry in the canon of movies about the conflict — one that posits that art has the power to change both individuals and the world. This survey of German art from Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery’s collection attempts to answer questions about the role art has played in the formulation of German identity. It also examines how contemporary Germans and non-Germans view these works, which are still colored by the complex relationship we have with the country and its tragic history, ranging from the beginnings of the First World War through the division of the country after World War II.

Joe Nolan



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