Can Creativity Save Lives?

If you’ve been reading me, then you must know I’ve been looking through various name listings lately. I’m looking at “old English names” “Author names” “Artist Names”, etc. for the precious bundle of joy due to arrive here in just 4 or 5 days. Imagine my surprise when I saw listed under “H” in artist names a certain Adolph Hitler. I do recall reading somewhere that he had considered studies in art and architecture. I had never delved too much into the personal history of the man because had never considered him as a human being before—just a scary monster who was best left along with the other underbed dwellers—so the following entry in somehow chilled me to the bone:

Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:
Hitler described himself as a painter in the Academic tradition. Most everyone else who’s seen his work has described Hitler’s painting style as either “Bad” or “Extremely bad.”

Date and place of birth: April 20, 1889, Braunau am Inn, Austria

Life: Though he became convinced in his youth that he possessed great artistic talent, very few other people (besides his own mother) felt similarly about Adolf Hitler. He received an “excellent” mark in Art during his final year of formal schooling, but his failure to complete a Leaving Certificate in the U.S. equivalent of high school did him no favors when he first took the exam to enter the prestigious Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Academy of Fine Art in Vienna) in 1907. Ostensibly rejecting him for lack of academic skills, the Academy’s admissions department also commented on Hitler’s lack of understanding of human anatomy. Undaunted, Hitler again took the entrance exam in 1908, with similar results. He temporarily refocused on a future in architecture but this, too, did not come to pass due to lack of education. Regrettably, he then embarked upon a well-documented crooked path toward attempted world domination after this final artistic disappointment.

Important works: None of his own. The most important thing Hitler did for art was to spotlight the “Degenerates” – artists whose works were avant garde, or otherwise failed to meet National Socialist arts policies. Of course, he did this for the wrong reasons, wanting to ridicule and ruin talented artists’ careers. No one was more enraged than he when his plan backfired and the public flocked to Degenerate exhibitions.

Date and place of death: April 30, 1945, Berlin (Committed suicide in an underground bunker of the chancellery building.)

Art quotes by Adolph Hitler:

  • All my life I have wanted to be a great painter in oils … As soon as I have carried out my program for Germany, I shall take up painting. I feel that I have it in my soul to become one of the great artists of the age and that future historians will remember me not for what I have done for Germany, but for my art.
  • As for the degenerate artists, I forbid them to force their so-called experiences upon the public. If they do see fields blue, they are deranged, and should go to an asylum. If they only pretend to see them blue, they are criminals, and should go to prison. I will purge the nation of them.
  • My pictures, in the collections which I have bought in the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my home town of Linz on Donau. – from Hitler’s Last Will and Testament dated April 29, 1945.

Sources and Further Reading (see original article)

As you may know (or can easily find out by reading a bit more of this blog), I am on a journey of recovery and so far the most effective form of treatment to get me out of a debilitating clinical depression (the state I’m in by default if I’m not being manic) has been to make creativity and creative output the priority in my life, and wanting to share this experience led me to start

So far I’ve been very impressed with the quality of work our collaborators have submitted, and I do want to encourage almost all creative effort at all level of experience, perceived talent or skill. But I have asked myself the question “what if someone starts sending in truly horrible stuff? Will I want to have my name attached to that as an aesthete, as a Creative & Art Director?” So far I haven’t had to deal with this issue. But after reading the above, and especially the excellent New Yorker article called Hitler as Artist (the chilling conclusion addresses an issue I have struggled with for the better part of my life), I’m starting to think I have a strong ethical responsibility if I am to become any kind of authority on Creativity at any point in time.

The moral of the story? Better let people express themselves, however “badly” than brimming their creative impulses and risk them lashing out and becoming mass murderers on a universal scale instead. Sheesh.

Drawing by Adolph Hitler. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t find it so bad and would publish it on the other site if someone sent me something in a similar vein. A most troubling thought, all things considered.


365 Days of Creativity

Giraffe Drawings_3784

One of my friends, K, whom I had originally met in a painting class said something on Facebook just a short while ago about looking forward to starting a new art class as she hoped this would get her painting again, something she’s been finding hard to do lately. I understand the frustration of wanting to create things and feeling held back by lagging motivation. In my reply to her, the idea just popped into my mind that maybe I could start a group and/or blog where people would be encouraged to post a creation every day, in whatever medium they choose. Back in March, I blogged about wanting to find a project that would entail me showing my creations on a daily basis and gave myself a month to think about what I could possibly want to do every day for at least 365 days. I set myself a deadline to figure out what that thing would be: April 11th. This date is fast approaching and up until today I’ve been dreading it. Making that process interactive and having other people contribute their own creations too however… that seems a lot more exciting to me. I’m thinking that a group effort will encourage participants to keep going and stay motivated if only for the pleasure of sharing their creations with others.

I’ll think this over and share what format this group/blog will take on (making it user-friendly being a priority), when the start date will be, as well as how others can join me in this project, etc this Sunday April 11th. I’m hopeful that others will want to start this 365 day adventure with me or at least participate occasionally. If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment—I’d also be curious to know what you think you might like to contribute, though I encourage everyone to participate in whatever medium they are most comfortable with, be it photography, painting, drawing, knitting, doodling, poetry, design, recipes, short stories, music, sewing, videos, haikus, baking… basically ANYTHING that is your own creation and which you can show others via internet. Anyone from beginner,  or amateur to professional is encouraged to participate. We’re not looking for perfection; participation is the only goal and any kind of effort will be encouraged. Suggestions are welcome.

Whether there are other participants willing to start on Day One with me or not, I’ll set the whole thing in motion in hopes that others will want to join along the way, though I’d love it if at least a couple of people joined from the start. Are you in?

This photo by Smiler was originally  featured in this post.