Degenerate Art: Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s Large Kneeling Woman (1937)
The admonition “They had four years’ time” [“Sie hatten vier Jahre Zeit”] appears on the wall of the gallery featured below. It is presumably an indictment of every “degenerate” artist featured in the show – for, after four years of National Socialist rule, they still hadn’t adapted to the new aesthetic guidelines and cultural policies. In the case of the Wilhelm Lehmbruck, whose Large Kneeling Woman (1911) appears in the foreground, such an indictment is curious, given the fact that he had committed suicide in 1919. (Lehmbruck, who had served as a medical orderly during the First World War, never recovered from the cruelties he had witnessed.) Lehmbruck’s sensitive Expressionist rendering of a woman with angular, elongated limbs conveys an air of quiet thoughtfulness. The sculpture in no way conforms to the National Socialist vision of the ideal “Aryan” human form.