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Dissertation

Germany and Maillol

Dutch Title: "Duitsland en Maillol : een onderzoek naar de invloed van Aristide Maillol op de beeldhouwkunst in de eerste helft van de 20e eeuw in Duitsland in het bijzonder in de nazi periode"

Author
Ger Jacobs
Date
01 April 2015
Links
Full text available in Leiden University Repository

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) was the most popular foreign sculptor in Germany from 1905 to 1944. German art dealers and critics introduced Maillol’s sculptures. Till 1933 these sculptures evoked in the chaotic German society a desire for the balanced and peaceful society of ancient Greece. Many German sculptors went to Paris to study there at one of the “free academies”. Barlach, Lehmbruck, Hoetger, Klimsch, Marcks, Enseling and Stadler, came for Rodin, but after a while a number of them became more interested in Maillol. Returned to their homeland they designed, for a while, sculptures inspired by Maillol. Many of them held a professorship at an academy, where they passed on their experiences to rising young sculptors like Abel, Breker, Lehmann, Werner, Agricola and Zimmermann In generally there were four categories who were influenced by Maillol. The first group, including Arp, Wotruba and Mataré, took the work of the French sculptor as a source of inspiration for developing their own abstracting or abstract image-language. The second more expressionistically oriented group, including Lehmbruck, Steger, Markcs, Kasper, Seitz and Blumenthal, took Maillol’s simplification of form as a new startingpoint. 

The works of both groups were branded by the nazi leaders as entartet. A third group, including Hoetger, Albiker, Scheibe and Gerstel, were inspired by Maillol’s ideas of the human body. Initially the nazi’s accepted a number of their sculptures in their vision. The fourth group, including Klimsch, Grauel, Breker, Bronisch and Agricola, copied Maillol’s compositions and motifs quite directly and not achieve much more than cliché, nazi propaganda sculptures.

This dissertation aims to show that the view of Maillol’s work as a continuer of a classical tradition and as a pivotal figure towards modernism, needs some modification. He was also, unintentionally, an artist who influenced the nazi propaganda.

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