Archive for October 12th, 2011

We all are influenced by the stimulus around us and art is a big part of that, from the music we hear to the visual imagery that we take in every day.   Most of us simply take it in and don’t process it directly to our behavior.  Well, maybe we do but not in ways that seem obvious to the outside world.  But Adolph Hitler did. 

Biographers state that he was very drawn as a very young man to the work of the German symbolist painter Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) whose paintings were dark in nature and filled with the symbology of Germanic myth.  In fact, the painting above, The Wild Chase, is referred to by many biographers as the main influence for Hitler’s signature moustache and forelock.  The central character in The Wild Chase depicts the Germanic god Wotan ( the equivalent of the Norse god Odin) as he sweeps across the sky in a thunderhead, accompanied by a pack of wolves.  He bears a creepily ominous resemblance to Hitler.  The painting was from 1899 when Hitler was  a mere 10 years old. 

It’s probably no coincidence that he chose this particular piece as he used a lot of Germanic mythology in his manipulation of the German population and the idea of a German god sweeping across Europe, terrorizing everyone in his path seems in line with how Hitler viewed his mission.

It’s a shame that von Stuck’s main claim to fame is probably this awful connection.  He was a well known teacher and some of his students are among the best known painters of the 20th century– Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Albers among them.  His  own work, which lost favor in the later part of his life,  is filled with deep, dark colors and extraordinary imagery that, while sometimes bordering on decadent or creepy, is beautifully striking and deserving of recognition. 


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