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“1938: Kunst, Künstler, Politik”

View of “1938: Kunst, Künstler, Politik,” 2013–14. From left: Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Ausblick aus dem Nachtlokal (View from the Nightclub), 1930; Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Lissy, 1931; Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, Eine Pflasterkolonne (II) (A Plaster Column [II]), 1931; Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, In der Barkasse (In the Barge), 1930. Photo: Uwe Dettmar.

TO SAY THAT YOU LOVE THE AVANT-GARDE was once proof that you were on the right side of history. That moment is now over, as evidenced by the impeccable timing of the well-researched exhibition “1938: Kunst, Künstler, Politik” (1938: Art, Artists, Politics) at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. Conceived by critic Julia Voss, implemented by curator Eva Atlan, and designed by artist Tobias Rehberger and his studio, the show underscored the complex and traumatic intersections of political and cultural prerogatives during one fateful year.

That annus horribilis is catching up to us. The recent discovery of some fourteen hundred modernist works of art—many of them looted during Hitler’s reign—in the apartment of a shadowy Munich denizen, Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of one of Nazi Germany’s most influential art dealers, Hildebrand Gurlitt, is a case in point. When the Haus der

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