Max Beckmann, Departure, Frankfurt 1932, Berlin 1933-35; Oil on canvas, 84 3⁄4 x 39 1⁄4 in. (215.3 x 99.7 cm), The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously (by exchange) Digital Image © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY, © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

It has been suggested that the history of the twentieth century might have been different if Adolf Hitler had not been rejected both times that he applied for admission to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. If he had not been turned away because of what we are told was a “lack of aptitude,” he might have succeeded in becoming an artist and stayed out of politics. Of...


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