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Artists in 60 Seconds: Adolph Ziegler


Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:

"Aryan" nudes

Females all, unless a nude male (like Paris) was included in the composition to judge a nude female or three (like Hera, Athena and Aphrodite). Ziegler was, in fact, known by contemporary artists - behind his back and not affectionately, either - as "The Master of the 'Crinkled' Hair."

Date and Place of Birth:

February 16, 1892, Bremen, Germany


Ziegler was an academically trained painter whose career successes were directly linked to his association with Adolf Hitler. As the National Socialist party gained power, Ziegler gleaned an appointment as a Professor at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Then, in 1936, he was given the title "President of the National Chamber of Fine Arts." He was there charged with eradicating degenerate art from German museums and enforcing the cultural foundations of the National Socialist state.

Art "expert" Ziegler proved himself up to the task, diligently confiscating some 16,000 - 17,000 works, striking their creators from membership in the National Chamber of Fine Arts and forbidding them doing any further work "professional or amateur." He organized two exhibitions for the state: the "bad" Entartete Kunst, which traveled and drew huge crowds, and the "good" Great German Art Exhibition, which enjoyed much smaller attendance figures and in which Ziegler exhibited his own work.

As an artist, Ziegler was (at best) second-rate. He was, however, slightly better than Hitler, and had the additional, indispensable quality of being a first-rate sycophant.

Important Works:

  • The Four Elements, 1937

  • Painted for the Great German Art exhibition, acquired by Hitler to hang over his fireplace mantle and often reproduced by popular demand.
  • Organizer of the Entartete Kunst ("Degenerate Art") exhibition, 1937-39)

Date and Place of Death:

September 18, 1959, Varnhalt, Germany

(In 1973, the village of Varnhalt was incorporated into Baden Baden.)

A Quote From Adolph Ziegler:

  • "Around us, you see the monstrous products of lunacy, impudence, dilettantism and degeneracy."

Recommended Book

  • Barron, Stephanie. Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-garde in Nazi Germany (exh. cat.).
    Los Angeles County : Museum of Art, 1991.

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