On fake Hitlers, fictional histories, the Capodimonte reigns again & more.
Recent links of note:
“Faking Hitler: the story behind a sinister market”
Catherine Hickley, The Art Newspaper
It’s a commonly held, and undeniably satisfying, judgment that Hitler was a mediocre painter. But after he rose to infamy, his paintings—and forgeries of them—found a market anyway. Catherine Hickley reports on a recent auction in which sixty-three paintings attributed to Hitler were removed as suspected fakes, the latest instance of his works being replicated. The tradition of faking Hitler goes back to the 1930s, when he first seized power. Hitler himself tried to stop the forgeries, but “often he didn’t know whether they were genuine or not himself,” the art historian Birgit Schwarz says. “He had no distinctive style.” Even today, the art auctioneer Kerstin Weidler says, people buy Hitler’s paintings not for their artistic merit, but because they “want to own a piece of world history or make a financial investment.” But perhaps the risk of forgery is finally catching up with Hitler: five watercolors attributed to him failed to sell last month at a Nuremberg auction house.
“Fictionalizing History, With Republicans at Center Stage”
Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal
In February, Thomas Mallon released Landfall, a novel about George W. Bush’s presidency that is the third in his trilogy about Republican presidents. After Nixon and Reagan, the subjects of the first two books, Mallon says he was drawn to Bush as another president with “an aura of mystery.” Mallon prefers to approach his subjects through characters who played smaller historical roles, so readers follow an employee at a pseudo–National Endowment for the Humanities and an army lawyer as they come to know Bush as a “moody and obsessive figure” and the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his “tormented alter ego.” But the purpose of the novels is neither praise nor pan. In Daniel Akst’s profile of Mallon, the Long Island native and longtime Washington, D.C., resident presents himself as an unorthodox Republican in the political realm, but one whose sympathies have aligned with GOP leaders in his writing.
“Naples: the city belonging to no nation”
Jamie Mackay, The Times Literary Supplement
Naples’s Reggia di Capodimonte, built as a fortress in the eighteenth century, was well on its way to becoming a glorious baroque ruin until a decade ago, when the museum staff had a better idea. Since then, the museum has been renovated, its collections have been revived, and new exhibitions have been put on to display the cultural history of a city that “belongs to no single nation.” Jamie Mackay writes about the transformation of a museum that, if it can withstand the temptation to prize mere diversity (“Should we leave history to be decided exclusively by historians, philosophers, teachers?,” the text of a current exhibition reads) over a true appreciation of its collective heritage, has the potential to become, as Mackay claims, “one of Europe’s most exciting museums.”
From our pages
“Raising the dead”
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