Why Degenerate? From Nordau to Nolde and Beyond


  • 9am - 5pm

  • National Gallery of Scotland, Hawthornden Lecture Theatre
    The Mound
    Edinburgh
    EH2 2EL

This one-day Research Forum for German Visual Culture symposium, organised by Dr Christian Weikop (ECA) and Frances Blythe (ECA), in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland, celebrates an exhibition retrospective of one of Germany’s greatest Expressionist artists, namely Emil Nolde (1867-1956). In the late 1930s, the National Socialist regime would condemn Nolde’s art as ‘degenerate’ and he would become a central figure of their Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition, which started in Munich and travelled to twelve other cities between 1937 and 1941.

The aim of this international symposium, which features world-leading experts on modern German art, is to consider the inception, reception and reverberations of the notion of ‘Entartung’ (Degeneration), whilst challenging and updating existing orthodoxies in the field.

Moving beyond the ideas underpinning the ‘Degenerate Art’ reconstruction exhibition at LACMA (1991), and more recently at the Neue Galerie, New York (2014), with their attendant catalogue scholarship focusing chiefly on the events of 1937, this project seeks to produce a fresh survey of the roots and developmental branches of the concept of ‘degeneration’. In this symposium, the complex meanings of ‘degenerate’ or ‘degeneration’ will also be considered with respect to avant-garde music and architecture, as well as for the visual arts.

All are welcome to this free but ticketed event. Organised by Edinburgh College of Art in association with the National Galleries of Scotland to coincide with the exhibition Emil Nolde: Colour is Life at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (14 Jul - 21 Oct 2018).

This event is linked with the "Why Degenerate? From Nordau to Nolde and Beyond: Early Career Workshop" event, taking place at Edinburgh College of Art on 12th October. Find out more >