Art and the artists who make them

For a few moments, appreciate the paintings below.

City 1 City 2 Landscape 1 Landscape 2

Composition and technique really aren’t all that exemplary, but they show practice. They capture what seems to be the intended qualities in each scene: the bustle of city life, the majesty of a palace, the tranquility of a lake. If one were to use the work alone as a means to look into the mind of this heretofore unidentified artist, what insights might we gain when studying this work?

Would you make the same insights when you learn that those paintings were made by none other than Adolf Hitler?

To a certain extent, art can be separated from the artist. Leni Riefenstahl’s anthropological photography of Africans is excellent work. However, at what point can art remain separate from the artist? Does it come with the knowledge of the artist’s identity? If I hawked these Hitler paintings as postcards in some community who have never heard of his art, what does that make me? Even harder, if I had no idea these hypothetical postcards featured Hitler’s art, what does that make me?

The appreciation of art is a multi-phase experience. Our feelings change based on what’s depicted, the artist itself, what we know and do not know. It’s truly fascinating.

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