Before I start a massive discussion about what degenerate art means to me and how its influenced other work, I think I should first talk about what it is. Degenerate art is work that was considered low skilled and offensive by Hitler and his Nazi party in the 1930's. If something was considered degenerate, it meant it deviated from accepted norms at the time.
Works of modern art, expressionism and impressionism were all collected together and displayed in an exhibition which aimed to ridicule the artists and those that followed the modern art movements. Pieces of work which still today would be considered high end inspirational works were mocked using graffiti, changes in the work title and badly reviewed by Nazi propaganda. Artists featured in the Degenerate art show were those such as Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Over 16,000 piece of work were seized by the Nazi party and were placed on display. The Degenerate art show was one of the most publically viewed exhibitions in history, which toured Germany and neighbouring countries for a number of year. It was thought to have attracted around 3,000,000 viewers. Although not all of those going to view the work agreed with his political views about it. Many fled to see the works as they believed it may be the last ever opportunity they would get to see the works of artists they saw as revolutionary practitioners. After the burning of the books there was no certainty of where, or in what condition the works would end up in once the Nazi's were finished with them.
How do I feel about it all?
I feel that Hitler's attacks on modern artists were about control of that that he could not understand. He saw those who followed the expressionist movement as communists and Jews, the two things he hated most. Art can have great power over people, how they think, what they feel about certain issues. Hitler only confirmed the influence of modern art by seeing its destruction as a key part of his control over Germany.
The fact that artists had to leave their country and quash their own creative instinct because someone told them how they expressed themselves was wrong. I also believe that it effected the natural evolution of art and that if the mockery of modern art had never happened then maybe the art world would have progressed even quicker, changing people perceptions of art and its influence on them. However I think that this lead to a chain reaction of events that benefitted the art world, in spite of Hitlers attempt to remove modern art. The dispersion of the German artists lead to revolutionary pieces of work that changed art history for ever.