Yom HaShoah events to explore art, politics

Opening of 'Degenerate Art' exhibition, Munich 1937 (Courtesy Jewish History Museum)

The Jewish community’s 2017 Yom HaShoah commemoration, which will include a survivor processional and candle lighting ceremony, will take place Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. This year’s theme is “Art and Totalitarianism: 80 Years After the ‘Degenerate Art’ Exhibition.”

The “Degenerate Art” (Entartete Kunst) exhibition conceived by Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and staged by the Nazis in Munich in 1937 specifically targeted Jewish artists, art collectors and dealers, presenting modernist art as a threat to the “Aryan” ideals of German culture.

“The focus of this year’s commemoration provides us with a framework for reflection on global concerns including state-sponsored propaganda, dehumanizing language and symbols and the relationship between art, politics and society,” says Bryan Davis, executive director of the Jewish History Museum & Holocaust History Center.

In addition to the April 23 event, there will be a reception and lecture by University of Arizona art history professor Paul Ivey on Wednesday, April 19 from 2-3:30 p.m. at the UA Museum of Art, 1031 N. Olive Road. The museum’s “Verboten/Forbidden” exhibition, on display through April 24, features works by many of the artists who were included in the Nazis’ “Degenerate Art” exhibit, such as Erich Heckel, Georg Grosz, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Pechstein, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

On Friday, April 21 at 11:30 a.m., UA Museum of Art curator Olivia Miller will continue the theme with a gallery chat at the Jewish History Museum, “Art and Totalitarianism,” exploring the impact of censorship and the Nazis’ comparison of modern artists with those suffering from mental illness.

For more information, visit or call 670-9073.