Creation in a world of destruction: Art as survival in the Holocaust
The Holocaust in art and the art of the Holocaust are two distinctly different forms of art. The former refers to any art depicting or alluding to the Holocaust. It includes works created both during and after the war, by victims as well as people not directly threatened by the event. Whereas the art of the Holocaust is limited to works created by the victims from 1939 to 1945. What is most important about the art of the Holocaust is it's means of reflecting its time both in its subject matter and in what it reveals about the artists themselves and the condition in which they worked. These people who struggled through the most deplorable conditions risked their lives to produce art. Art became their reason to live, and they used their talents to survive.
Expressionism was the prevailing artistic force in Germany and Eastern Europe in years preceding Hitler's rise to power. It was a movement born a round the turn of the century, in artistic and social ferment, a rebellion against the formalism and sterility of academic art, which promoted the ideas of the bourgeoisie and the German empire. The Expressionist artist was driven by "inner necessity" to express his longings and anxieties. As a result the many artists of the Holocaust inherited the traditions of Expressionism and social criticism. When the Nazi's came into power they were quick to condemn "modern art", which, to them included abstract and Expressionist styles. Such works, along with those produced by Jews and those depicted inferior racial types, were considered evil and degenerate. Three months after Hitler came into power, they were banned from museums and art schools, while Jewish and undesirable political artists were forced to cease working, by 1937, 16,000 works of degenerate art had been confiscated. The Nazi's considered art as a tool to use as a service…