Artists Under Vichy: A Case of Prejudice and Persecution

ISBN 10: 0691040885 / ISBN 13: 9780691040882
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While France endured one of the darkest hours of its entire history, from the occupation of Paris in June 1940 to the liberation of the city four years later, the French art world displayed an astonishing burst of creativity, an atmosphere of laissez-faire and pluralism that seems at odds with the repressive nature of culture under authoritarian regimes. So reveals Michle Cone in this provocative work on the art of Vichy and occupied France. But, as Cone also discloses, Vichy xenophobia and Nazi racism kept many artists from participating in this bonanza of artistic activity. In Artists under Vichy, both narrative and illustrations demonstrate in full detail the contrast between the "haves" and the "have-nots" during a vital but until now little explored artistic period. The first section of the work analyzes the lavish attention paid to both academic and nonacademic art by the official French press, by Vichy, and by German observers. Cone hypothesizes that the German strategy in Vichy France was to allow the display of nonconformist art, outlawed as "degenerate" in Germany, in order to distract the public from the secret seizure of museum pieces and Jewish art collections--and from other, far greater Nazi crimes. Neither among the "haves" nor the "have-nots," Picasso, forbidden to exhibit, lived through this period in Paris, quietly but productively. The second section of this book considers his production and that of the true "have-nots"--persecuted artists, including resisters and Jews, in hiding or self-imposed exile from Paris in the free zone. Among the "have-nots" discussed here are Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Sonia Delaunay, Alberto Magnelli, Otto Freundlich, Victor Brauner, and Hans Bellmer. With increasing public interest focused on art branded "degenerate" by Hitler, Cone's text provides exciting new insights into creativity, collaboration, and resistance in artists' milieux under a repressive regime.


From Library Journal: From the 1940 German occupation of Paris until the 1944 liberation, the French art world suffered the horrors of art censorship. Remarkably, the xenophobic Vichy government, headed by Marshall Petain in the free zone, became a haven for Jewish and "foreign" artists that Hitler stigmatized as "Judeo-Marxist-decadent." Cone, a contemporary art researcher, focuses on the enormous artistic output that occurred on both sides of the armistice line despite the repressive situation. She compares "Avengers of Decadence"--those who remained in Paris, collaborated with the Nazis, and supported traditional, moderate artistic values--with "Scapegoats of Decadence," refugee artists who resisted dictatorship but whose creativity prevailed amid hardships and isolation. Picasso's unique position in occupied Paris is also explored. A significant, insightful, scholarly study recommended for art museum and academic libraries.
- Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Title: Artists Under Vichy: A Case of Prejudice and...
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