Kunst im Dritten Reich

 Arno Breker "Zehnkämpfer (Decathlete)", 1984

SCULPTURE AND THE SACRAL GESTURE

There are moments in a human life, when expression and movement are so harmonious, that they are impressed on our minds as symbolic. It is actually the simple gestures which have a sacral effect, when they occur naturally, in the right place and at the right time.

One such happy meeting was witnessed by the millions of people who saw the conclusion of one of the many successful competitions of the athlete Jürgen Hingsen. His powerful body trembled with exhaustion and joy over his victory. Then, in a flash, came the gesture with the unforgettable effect: the athlete raised his hands toward the sky and spread out his arms in a pose of gratitude and joy.

"Hingsen was giving thanks to the gods of Olympus," many said. "It was a prayer," thought others.

I myself was fascinated by this pose. Jürgen Hingsen made it clear that sports, corporeality, and achievement form a triad in harmony with faith in the Eternal. My longing to capture this incident permanently found a positive echo in Hingsen. Thus, working with him, a larger-than-life sculpture arose. Through it I reveal that, as the twentieth century comes to a close, sports and religion have formed a new and positive relationship. The sculpture is also a tribute to the decathlon and to Hingsen himself.

It will teach future generations, who search for traces of their past, about the people of our time, about sports, and about the athletes through whose strength of will this achievement came about.

This sculpture stands at the forefront of an awareness of a new relationship between man and God. Sports and religion, sports and myth - these are well-known associates. We are familiar with pictures in which athletes kneel in order to receive their awards. With reverence and humility they bow their heads so that the laurel wreath can be placed upon it.

The sculpture of Jürgen Hingsen shows something new: he does not kneel with humility, awaiting recognition. Instead, he raises his head and does not shrink from looking upward. His powerful body is not introverted, but open and expressive.

In Hingsen’s countenance, I have captured the moment immediately following his shout of victory. His eyelids closed over eyes radiant with happiness. He forgot everything around him, as he communicated with the divine. I cannot find words to elaborate further. Others must use their own sensitivity to grasp it.

* * *

I am often asked why I use athletes as models and whether this is not outmoded. My answer: That which is good never becomes obsolete. Athletes are the best models for sculpture. It is impossible for a sculptor like me, who loves the triad of beauty of the body, spirit and soul, to overlook either a male or a female athlete. Besides, I have always been interested in athletic achievement per se, as well as from an artistic viewpoint.

* * *

If the sculpture of Hingsen has a special significance in the new dialog between sports and religion, sports and art, and art and religion, then it is also representative of a new development. Hingsen’s stirring behavior was certainly not premeditated. It came naturally, like a prayer from the unconscious. Nevertheless, it was and is an expression of a completed development and a new self-consciousness. The evolution of this new development and self-consciousness was similar to that of a maxim or a proverb. They were not “invented” or “imagined” in conformity with people’s wishes. On the contrary. Maxims are the result of experience. They are formulated through practical use by the general public.

The sculpture of Hingsen was positively received by the public. This is true both for the initial, smaller version as well as for the large sculpture which is meant for exhibition in an open area. Not only decathletes and other athletes, but sports fans as well, can relate to this work.

Young people often ask why stadiums are not adorned with sculptures of today’s athletic idols. Why shouldn’t this wish be fulfilled? The desire for likenesses is as old as mankind itself. Man’s love of beauty, form, and harmony is inextinguishable. My sculpture of Hingsen renews and strengthens this love.

Arno Breker

(Source: meaus.com)


What is the greatest miracle of creation?
Man!
Man in his most perfect and ideal form.
There is no greater subject which would be more worthwhile to use as a standard.
Man is the crowning achievement of creation! To form man ever anew, to recreate creation, is as old as mankind itself: The unity of spirit and form achieved a new image of mankind in the art of antiquity. The works of the sculptors of that time still today hold us in their spell.
The heights and depths of this century have not been able to divert me from remaining true to the perfect, the ideal. I strive always for the highest form of perfection in sculpture.
The variety of creation among human beings is infinite. Beauty of form, harmony of soul, spirit, and body is found not only in Europe; it exists on all continents.
The images of man which I create are not idealized. They embody ideals and characteristics which are worthy for all men: human dignity, peace, respect, friendship, tolerance, and freedom.
Jean Cocteau—my artist friend since our early days—let himself be guided throughout his full life by the principle:

"I love to love.
I hate hatred.”


With all my heart I agree with that, and I have never lost faith in the good. This is a source of strength for my work.
Once Cocteau said to me: “Your work contains the fire of the image of man—like the Phoenix … “
I believe in this light. It will not be extinguished.

Arno Breker, 1980

What is the greatest miracle of creation?

Man!

Man in his most perfect and ideal form.

There is no greater subject which would be more worthwhile to use as a standard.

Man is the crowning achievement of creation! To form man ever anew, to recreate creation, is as old as mankind itself: The unity of spirit and form achieved a new image of mankind in the art of antiquity. The works of the sculptors of that time still today hold us in their spell.

The heights and depths of this century have not been able to divert me from remaining true to the perfect, the ideal. I strive always for the highest form of perfection in sculpture.

The variety of creation among human beings is infinite. Beauty of form, harmony of soul, spirit, and body is found not only in Europe; it exists on all continents.

The images of man which I create are not idealized. They embody ideals and characteristics which are worthy for all men: human dignity, peace, respect, friendship, tolerance, and freedom.

Jean Cocteau—my artist friend since our early days—let himself be guided throughout his full life by the principle:

"I love to love.

I hate hatred.”

With all my heart I agree with that, and I have never lost faith in the good. This is a source of strength for my work.

Once Cocteau said to me: “Your work contains the fire of the image of man—like the Phoenix … “

I believe in this light. It will not be extinguished.

Arno Breker, 1980

(Source: meaus.com)


The central motif of my work was always the human being, man or woman. The ever-varying forms of appearance gave rise to no boredom.
I see the human being at the zenith of his appearance, the young man as well as his equal, the maiden. Evolution theories of science have never meant much to me. One cannot go from ape to human.
Moses unmistakably expressed this in the first chapter of Genesis in eternally valid words. The shaping of the human being is the work of the Almighty. Like granite blocks the words stand, “And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him and created her, a man and a woman.” So says the 27th verse. And in the 31st verse it says in conclusion, “And God looked at what He had made and saw that it was good.”
No decadent influences have moved me to modify the human image, to falsify or even to destroy it. This conviction is an absolutely personal, private concern. It has been shaken by nothing; it will be shaken by nothing. It remains completely immaterial to me if I run counter to the spirit of the times with my convictions.
At the moment people are talking about a new realism. One approaches the forms of appearance, but in a way that is extremely questionable. Three years ago in Middelheim Park near Antwerp I saw a collection of sculptures that had become famous in the meantime: an example of realism. The most extensive innovation came from two artists. They had molded pure plaster casts from nature, probably not with their own hands, but by a plaster caster, for it requires a special skill to achieve good result. This case unmercifully reveals the mistake!
An artwork of renown only begins with the spiritualization of matter—a no doubt divinely inspired process; the spiritualization presumes an artistic talent in those who do it. This process signifies the creation’s Song of Songs.

Arno Breker

The central motif of my work was always the human being, man or woman. The ever-varying forms of appearance gave rise to no boredom.

I see the human being at the zenith of his appearance, the young man as well as his equal, the maiden. Evolution theories of science have never meant much to me. One cannot go from ape to human.

Moses unmistakably expressed this in the first chapter of Genesis in eternally valid words. The shaping of the human being is the work of the Almighty. Like granite blocks the words stand, “And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him and created her, a man and a woman.” So says the 27th verse. And in the 31st verse it says in conclusion, “And God looked at what He had made and saw that it was good.”

No decadent influences have moved me to modify the human image, to falsify or even to destroy it. This conviction is an absolutely personal, private concern. It has been shaken by nothing; it will be shaken by nothing. It remains completely immaterial to me if I run counter to the spirit of the times with my convictions.

At the moment people are talking about a new realism. One approaches the forms of appearance, but in a way that is extremely questionable. Three years ago in Middelheim Park near Antwerp I saw a collection of sculptures that had become famous in the meantime: an example of realism. The most extensive innovation came from two artists. They had molded pure plaster casts from nature, probably not with their own hands, but by a plaster caster, for it requires a special skill to achieve good result. This case unmercifully reveals the mistake!

An artwork of renown only begins with the spiritualization of matter—a no doubt divinely inspired process; the spiritualization presumes an artistic talent in those who do it. This process signifies the creation’s Song of Songs.

Arno Breker

Arno Breker “Reichsminister Professor Speer” (GDK 1943)

Arno Breker “Frau Speer”, 1941

Arno Breker “Frau Bormann” , (GDK 1944)

Wilhelm Otto Pitthahn “Frau Bormann”, (GDK 1940)

Wilhelm Otto Pitthahn “Frau Bormann”, (GDK 1940)

Kurt Wendlandt “Meine Schwester” (GDK 1941)

Kurt Wendlandt “Meine Schwester” (GDK 1941)

Josef Jurutka “Stilleben “Beethoven”“, 1937 (GDK 1939)

Josef Jurutka “Stilleben “Beethoven”“, 1937 (GDK 1939)

Konstantin Vasilyev “Stalingrad”
This is not a painting of a Third Reich artist, but a painting of an artist who was born on Third Reich soil. The work of Russian artist Konstantin Vasilyev certainly is unique; it is all steeped in Germanic and Slavic pagan symbolism and an overt sympathy for the Third Reich. It is hardly imaginable that Vasilyev created his works, living in the Soviet Union. In this rare painting we see a German soldier who died heroically in the fierce battle of Stalingrad. He is covered in the snow of the grim Russian winter of 1943. An eagle with spread wings is flying above him – a symbol of a free German Reich.

Konstantin Vasilyev “Stalingrad”

This is not a painting of a Third Reich artist, but a painting of an artist who was born on Third Reich soil. The work of Russian artist Konstantin Vasilyev certainly is unique; it is all steeped in Germanic and Slavic pagan symbolism and an overt sympathy for the Third Reich. It is hardly imaginable that Vasilyev created his works, living in the Soviet Union. 

In this rare painting we see a German soldier who died heroically in the fierce battle of Stalingrad. He is covered in the snow of the grim Russian winter of 1943. An eagle with spread wings is flying above him – a symbol of a free German Reich.

(Source: walpurgishalle)