Nazi Kitsch – the unbearable lightness of irony


Do you need to agree with artists politically to find their work worthwhile? And what if the intentions behind the work turn out to be the opposite of our assumptions? Recently the Seattle paper The Stranger published a profile of local artist Charles Krafft that revealed he is a Holocaust denier and white nationalist. This has a particular bearing on his artwork, much of which consists of innocent seeming tchotches based on, among other things, Nazi iconography.
>>[Krafft] says, “The Jews have gotten white people to turn against themselves,” and that Holocaust revisionism is “a good weapon to use against the people who are trying to replace us.”<<
So what does this revelation mean for the public reception of his work? That is still being hashed out, but as SVA's resident design historian extraordinaire had this to say:
>>“The question of whether he’s an artist or a propagandist, or combination of both has to be judged from the outside, not the inside,” said Steven Heller, a former art director of the New York Times and prolific writer whose literary oeuvre includes Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption. The responsibility of interpreting the work, or placing it into a social context, “must be self-policed by the artist’s establishment,” he added. “If [Krafft] or anyone else is putting things into their artwork that are questionable, you have to ask the question of ‘why?’”>>
Krafft responded to the issue on Studio 360 and a right wing show on Counter-Currents Radio (excerpts).

To delve deeper in the stacks:

Mirroring evil : Nazi imagery/recent art / edited by Norman L. Kleeblatt – N6868.5.N37 M57 2001


The swastika : symbol beyond redemption? / Steven Heller , Jeff Roth – BL604.S8 H45 2008


Hitler’s willing executioners : ordinary Germans and the Holocaust / Daniel Jonah Goldhagen – D804.3 .G648 1996


Historical atlas of the Holocaust / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- G1797.21.E29 H5 1996

Nazi propaganda : the power and the limitations / edited by David Welch – D253.25.N39 1983

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