Show looks at Nazi-banned arists

Lithuanian Jacques Lipchitz' crime was his art.

Labeled a degenerate and exiled by the Nazi regime, the sculptor and printmaker was cast aside with thousands of other artists who achieved renown in the 20th-century. The roster included Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Max Beckmann, Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Max Ernst and Josef Albers.

In some cases, their work was burned.

These artists weren't necessarily ostracized by Nazis before and during World War II for their political leanings. They weren't kicked out of German-occupied countries because they leaned on their art to challenge the authority of Adolph Hitler.

"All these artists were persecuted because they were modernists," said Cori Sherman, Spencer Museum of Art's curatorial assistant in the print and drawing department at Kansas University. "Artists that produced traditional imagery were fine with the Nazi regime."

The museum is staging an exhibit of works on paper by a fraction of the artists who fled Nazi onslaught in Europe. "Artists in Exile" opened Friday and runs through Oct. 1. It is free and open to the public.

It's a collaboration with KU faculty involved in the International Conference on Exile Studies at KU's Max Kade Center for German-American Studies.

A guided tour of the works by Sherman and intern Rachel Epp Buller is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Sept. 21 in the museum's north balcony gallery. The art is from Spencer's permanent collection.

Michael Marrus, professor at the University of Toronto, will lecture at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 in the museum's auditorium on "The Holocaust: Who Knew What? When? Where?"

On Sept. 22, also at 3 p.m. in the auditorium, Sabine Eckmann, curator of Washington University Gallery of Art in St. Louis, will speak on "The Use and Abuse of Exile Art: Reinventing National Myths."

Sherman said some banned artists moved to the United States, but others on the list worked desperately to remain in Europe.

For example, Kandinsky was a prominent Russian working in France when the Nazis emerged in the 1930s. Ordered back to Russia, he eventually acquired German citizenship in a failed bid to stay.

"Because he was so famous for his abstract expressionism work, he was labeled a degenerate and included on the banned list," Sherman said. "He wasn't political. He was willing to exhibit with a Fascist sponsor, but they wanted none of him."

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