PR: Art in Battle

Art in Battle addresses how art and art institutions were used by the Nazi regime in Germany and in occupied Norway.

Art in Battle explores a dark chapter in Norwegian and European art history. Nazism’s extreme efforts to “purge” society of unwanted elements have deeply marked Western culture. Art functioned in this context as an arena for an ideological battle.

In 1942–43 the exhibition Art and Non-Art was shown at the National Gallery in Oslo, and in the art associations of Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger. In Bergen the exhibition included works from Bergen Billedgalleri (now KODE). Art and Non-Art was inspired by the official art exhibitions in Nazi Germany and was intended as an instructive comparison of “exemplary” older Norwegian art with so-called “degenerate” works. Modern art from the first decade of the 20th century was considered deviant, and as such should be “cleansed” from the museum’s collections.

Art in Battle is in part a reconstruction of the exhibitions that were arranged by the Nazi authorities in Germany and Norway, but will also show pictures painted by German soldier artists who were stationed in Norway.

Based on the artistic views and cultural politics of Nazism, Art in Battle explores the conditions for art when used in times of war. Which ideological battles are waged around art, and what values are at risk? When does art become dangerous? Can an encounter with these works and their historical circumstances incite us to reflect upon our own view of art today?

The project is a collaboration between KODE and the research project Modernism and Christianity at the University of Bergen