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Lasar Segall art exhibition in Sao Paulo, 80 years after Nazi ‘Entartete Kunst’

The exhibition Lasar Segall: Persecution of Modern Art in Times of War, at the Lasar Segall Museum in Sao Paulo, is open until April 30, 2018

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The curatorship is of Helouise Costa by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) of the University of São Paulo and the Daniel Rincon researcher of the Lasar Segall Museum .

Lasar Segall (1889-1957) was born in the Jewish community of Vilnius, Lithuania, then dominated by Tsarist Russia. He was a painter, sculptor, draftsman and engraver. He began his career with Impressionist influences, but still young adhered to Modernism. After living in Germany, he moved to Brazil, absorbing references of the country in his art. He lived a period in Paris and settled definitively in São Paulo in 1932.

Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst)

Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of modernista art works chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.

Entartete Kunst was a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe Modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. These included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art.

While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the “blood and soil” values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience. Similar restrictions were placed upon music, which was expected to be tonal and free of any jazz influences; disapproved music was termed degenerate music. Films and plays were also censored.

Between 1937 and 1938, already residing in Brazil, Segall had 49 works confiscated of German public museums. Of these, 11 participated in the exhibition Entartete Kunst: three oil paintings and eight engravings. The Lasar Segall Museum show features 24 engravings and the only screen that survived the Nazis, Eternal Walkers, 1919.