|The Rape of Europa (Titian - ca. 1560-1562)|
During my formal education, a memorable dialogue in my 2D lecture seminar took place that briefly touched on a notorious period of history, that being World War II. This specific lesson dealt with the subjectivity of art and, more precisely, the particular preference of what Nazi Germany saw fit to be considered art at the time. Now as I said previously, this lecture briefly grazed the Degenerate Art Exhibition, or entartete Kunst, of 1937; a traveling exhibition curated (and I use that term loosely) by the Nazi party to create a spectacle that virtually condemned all known modern art as sub-caliber work - hence, degenerate.
Fast forward to present day...where a much more patient, mature and considerably wiser version of Mike the Younger has imposed a self-initiated sort of master's program focusing on art history as a minor. Naturally the curriculum includes The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (Lynn H. Nicholas) as the short anecdote from the aforementioned 2D lecture left a inalienable impression on his malleable twenty-something mind. The book itself is full of fascinating history and it reads quickly for the amount of information one will get from it. There is also a film documentary version, made some years after the book was published, which is definitely worth a watch. As my intentions for this post are not to review this book or movie, I will just say that there is much known now about the atrocities orchestrated during World War II, and furthermore, the cultural destruction that ensued during this era was unprecedented and will forever remain a stigma on humanity and it's capabilities. Obviously the catastrophic loss of life is the indisputable tragedy involved with all warfare. Peripherally, the works of art created by those lives - whether paintings, architecture, music, film, writing, etc. - are the embodiment of our story as human beings and should thus be treated as such.