Okay, god. Every art community I’ve paid attention to, at some point, has someone (usually young) who recently discovers that Adolf Hitler was a decent draftsman/painted at all, and tries to talk about how good an artist he was, not because he’s amazing, but to sound edgy. I have literally seen someone say, “My favorite painter is Hitler.” at least once per community.
Um… okay, look:
You can cite whatever favorites you want, but I finally saw someone on my dash talk about how he “could have been like a Rembrandt if he hadn’t have been in politics.” (But I don’t want to yell at some kid I don’t know, so I’ll just post it here.)
Slow your roll there, bby, no. No, no no, for so many reasons (READ A BOOK OR FIVE), but let’s just stick to the art aspect of that statement. First of all he’d have been minumum 60ish (sorry, estimating in my head with rounded off dates) years too late, but really like 300 years too late… IF THAT.
Hitler painted representational, benign landscapes when that was so totally out, and the last time his work could have been lumped into a movement, was like 60+ years before he was painting when the Pre-Raphaelites did it as a reaction against the Mannerists (Mannerists = Impressionists’ granddaddies), and had an emphasis on being didactic (having a moral or message in their representational work; usually bible stuff, but also that Waterhouse painting of Ophelia that your mom loves so much). Hitler literally just sold postcards of pwitty landscapes (I checked— that’s the academic term :P ). He’s not likely to have been good enough to even be a Pre-Raphaelite.
Oh, and the difference between Hitler and Rembrandt, too, would be that Rembrandt, like many artists we remember hundreds of years after their death (ignoring the entire revisionist aspect of art history, btw, ‘cause that’s another can of worms), was acknowledged as ground-breaking in his time. He was a lighting master, as lots of people know that but he was also totally hax with the printing press (innovated with new techniques and this was actually most of his career FYI).
Hitler, conversely, clung to old ideas, and while that’s fine it’s not gonna get you Rembrandt status. The biggest reason why Hitler would have never been legendary is because in 1930ish, when he was painting, he was in Northern Europe.
What about Northern Europe?
Northern Europe was the friggin’ cradle/birthplace of the Modern Avant-Garde (the complete OPPOSITE of what Hitler was into). Edgy-looking art and ideas were from Austria, Germany, etc. (Vienna Secession, Bauhaus, International Style = all Northern Europe), and at this time modernists were deconstructing every traditional mode of representation in painting because we’ve had photography for like 70 years or so at this point (photography itself meets but also parts from painting, it’s got its own growing pains, let’s not go into that) and, oh, yeah, WWI. (After you have that much death and destruction on your doorstep, you don’t go back to painting fucking happy trees and clouds and shit, you start the fuck over, because mentally you are messed up and you have no faith in institution.) :P Hitler’s work didn’t say jack shit about anything, other than (at best) “Hey remember when people didn’t innovate and quietly shut up and made creativity stagnate because the Paris art establishment was correct in being rigid and stifling? Let’s go back to that. I like following rules I don’t have to question or think about when it comes to art, but I want to be lauded.” That’s like going to college, barely scraping by with mediocre work/grades, graduating, expecting to get hired with a six-figure salary, and then getting pissed when it doesn’t happen.
And hell, I think even Hitler knew it. He was probably butthurt because he didn’t know how to innovate as a painter (or architect; he bitched about that too), and didn’t understand those silly paint splotches. In fact, it’s my guess that his “Entartete Kunst" show, having the Gestapo seize everything modern/avant garde, banning Jazz, calling all modernists enemies of the state, resulting in the arrests and death of artists who were judged as “incurably sick” but didn’t quit painting or didn’t get the hell out of Germany, is what an immature 12-year-old on DeviantArt would do if they could, after receiving crit that hurt their feelings.
Hey, but if you can’t be like the cool kids, I guess you can throw a tantrum and ruin their clubhouse. Hitler essentially chased art out of Europe thanks to blowing everything the fuck up and pissing on creativity. People with talent escaped to the United States and after WWII New York City became the center of the fine art world.
So, I hope people who try to be edgy by saying that Hitler is their favorite artist realizes HOW FRIGGIN IRONIC that is, seeing as his work was the opposite of edgy, and that edgy got you killed.