Merkel removes paintings by Emil Nolde

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had two paintings by the German expressionist Emil Nolde removed from her office. Labelled a "degenerate artist" by the Nazis, Nolde himself was an anti-Semite, a racist and a staunch National Socialist. Should the works of such artists be put on display?

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The Grass affair made the chancellor cautious

Merkel's decision is the right one, Gazeta Wyborcza comments:

“Without doubt, in this case for Merkel it's better to be safe than sorry. She is removing the works of controversial artists that are associated with the Nazis to avoid problems. All we need do is recall the wave of criticism that crashed down on Germany 13 years ago when the well-known German author and Nobel laureate Günter Grass admitted that he had served in the Waffen-SS as a youth towards the end of the war. He was accused of hypocrisy because he had kept silent about this period, fought against former Nazis and accused the Germans of ignoring the wartime past of their leading artists. The subject is still painful because many influential party members and criminals in post-war Germany built a career for themselves.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Nolde's paintings don't belong in Chancellery

German Chancellor Merkel was right to have the Nolde paintings removed, Die Presse comments, but at the same time defends the pictures against general criticism:

“Nasty figures can create high art: a mature, liberal society must live with this ambivalence. Without hiding it, concealing it or whitewashing it, as the post-war generation did. Nolde's paintings should not be removed, but a commentary explaining his past should be hung next to them. That could - as paradoxical as it may seem - make his all too pleasing dahlias, sea waves and saints relevant once more. One thing though: In 2019 Nolde's works have no place in the Chancellery. He does not belong in a place where state affairs are dealt with - or in a room where a nation presents itself to its guests.”