Georg Kolbe – The Artist and National Socialism

Breaks and Continuities in Life, Work and Reception

Ed.: Elisa Tamaschke and Julia Wallner, authors: Magdalena Bushart, Ambra Frank, Christian Fuhrmeister, Jan Giebel, Arie Hartog, Christina Irrgang, Gesa Jeuthe Vietzen, Bernhard Maaz, Olaf Peters, Kathleen Reinhardt, Wolfgang Schöddert, Dorothea Schöne, Paula Schwerdtfeger, Aya Soika, Maike Steinkamp, Elisa Tamaschke, Anja Tiedemann, Julia Wallner (Gebr. Mann Verlag, engl./dt.)
2023 | 372 S. | 39 €

The publication “Georg Kolbe – The Artist and National Socialism. Breaks and Continuities in Life, Work and Reception” brings together the latest research on the work of the sculptor Georg Kolbe (1877-1947) during National Socialism. The book expands on the latest research into artists‘ biographies under National Socialism and their often-seamless transition into the post-war period (e.g. Emil Nolde, list of the „Gottbegnadeten“) and represents a milestone that puts art historical research on modernism in Germany and the history of sculpture during this period on a new footing.

In 2020, following the death of Georg Kolbe’s granddaughter, a considerable amount of previously unknown source material from Kolbe’s estate came into the possession of the museum in Berlin. This sensational addition of over 3,000 letters and business papers, as well as calendars from the 1930s and 40s and notebooks, provides new insights into Kolbe’s self-marketing strategies, his engagement with the art market, including with the Cassirer, Flechtheim and Buchholz galleries in New York, his handling of public and private commissions, his participation in exhibitions and much more. In December 2021, the Georg Kolbe Museum subsequently invited a group of leading art historians to address the artist’s entire estate, but above all the new sources, with their own research questions. In September 2022, the academic conference entitled „Georg Kolbe in National Socialism. Continuities and Ruptures in his Life, Work and Reception“, at which the results of multi-perspective research were presented. The publication of the contributions, some of which have been further expanded, is now available. They change not the art-historical view of Kolbe, but also of the possibilities of artistic creation during this period and show how, to a much greater extent than was previously documented, Georg Kolbe aligned himself with the National Socialist power elites.

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