Displayed at the GDK 1944, room 7.
In creating this sculpture, Ernst Reiss Schmidt was probably inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘Pietà’. This Renaissance sculpture from 1499 is housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.
Left: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Adagio’, 1944. Original photo of ‘Adagio’ (model in clay) in the atelier of the artist in Düsseldorf. A stamp on the back of the photo reads: ‘ERNST REISS-SCHMIDT, Industrie-Architect, Düsseldorf-Obk, Quirinstr. 36, Telefon 51003’.
Right: The text under the foto: ‘ADAGIO, Lebensgross (life size), Untersberger Marmor, H=60 cm’.
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: height 60 cm|
|– signed||: unsigned|
|– type||: ‘Untersberger Marmor’ (Limestone from the Untersberg, near Berchtesgaden)|
|– msic. i||: created in 1944|
|– misc. II||: sculpture is professional cleaned, a 5 page report is available|
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Träumende’ (‘Dreamer’). GDK 1943, room 7; depicted in the exhibition cataloge. Marble, height 119 cm. Also displayed at the Gau Ausstellung Westafalen-Süd, VII Grosse Sauerländiche Ausstellung 1944, Hagen; depicted in the exhibition catalogue. Also depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, 1943 as well as in ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich’, 1944.
Bought by Hitler for 13,500 RM. Nowadays in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.
Displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’. The exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.
‘Träumende’, plaster, depicted in ‘Duesseldorfer Künstler im Haus der Deutschen Kunst’, 1943.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Bauernmädchen vom Niederrhein’ (‘Farmer-girl from Niederrhein’). GDK 1942, room 20. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, 1942.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, postcards, ‘Olympia’. GDK 1944, room 15. Bought by Hitler for 20,500 RM. In the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich’ 1944. Height 190 cm.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Albert Leo Schlageter‘. In the possession of the ‘Stadtmuseum Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf‘.
Albert Leo Schlageter (12 August 1894 – 26 May 1923) was a member of the German Freikorps. His activities sabotaging French occupying troops after World War I led to his arrest and eventual execution by French forces. His death created an image of martyrdom around him, which was cultivated by German nationalist groups, in particular the Nazi Party. During the Third Reich, he was widely commemorated as a national hero.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Der verwundete Grenadier’ (‘The Wounded Grenadier’). GDK 1943, room 13. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich’, 1944.
‘Der Verwundete Grenadier’, plaster, depicted in ‘Duesseldorfer Künstler im Haus der Deutschen Kunst, 1943.
The extreme scarcity of National Socialistic art
Massive, systematic destruction of Nazi art since 1945: the Potsdam-Agreement
From 1933 to 1949 Germany experienced two massive art purges. Both the National Socialist government and OMGUS (the U.S. Military Government in Germany) were highly concerned with controlling what people saw and how they saw it. The Nazis eliminated what they called ‘Degenerate art’, erasing the pictorial traces of turmoil and heterogeneity that they associated with modern art. The Western Allies in turn eradicated ‘Nazi art’ and forbade all artworks military subjects or themes that could have military and/or chauvinist symbolism from pictorial representation. Both the Third Reich and OMGUS utilized the visual arts as instruments for the construction of new German cultural heritages.
The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945, subparagraph 3, Part III, Section A stated that one purpose of the occupation of Germany was ‘to destroy the National Socialistic Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations and to dissolve all Nazi and militaristic activity or propaganda.’ In accordance with Allied Control Council laws and military government regulations, all documents and objects which might tend to revitalize the Nazi spirit or German militarism would be confiscated or destroyed. For example, Title 18, Military Government Regulation, OMGUS stated that: ‘all collections of works of art related or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism will be closed permanently and taken into custody.’ As a consequence, thousands of paintings –portraits of Nazi-leaders, paintings containing a swastika or depicting military/war sceneries– were considered ‘of no value’ and destroyed. With knives, fires and hammers, they smashed countless sculptures and burned thousands of paintings. Around 8,722 artworks were shipped to military deposits in the U.S.
OMGUS regulated and censored the art world. The Information Control Division (ICD, the key structure in the political control of post-war German culture in the American zone) was in fact a non-violent version of the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture). With its seven subdivisions (i.e. press, literature, radio, film, theatre, music, and art), the ICD neatly replaced the Reich Chamber of Culture. The ICD established through its various sections a system of licensed activity, with screening and vetting by Intelligence to exclude all politically undesirable people.
‘Free’ German artists producing ‘free German art’ after 1945
In the ideology of OMGUS, painting was conceived of as a strategic element in the campaign to politically re-educate the German people for a new democratic internationalism. Modern art allowed for the establishment of an easy continuity with the pre-Nazi modernist past, and it could serve as a springboard for the international projection of Germany as a new country interacting with its new Western partners.
‘Free’ artists producing ‘free art’ was one of the most powerful symbols of the new Germany, the answer to the politically controlled art of the Third Reich. Modern art linked Western Germany to Western Europe – separating the new West German aesthetic and politics from that of the Nazi era, the U.S.S.R., and East Germany – and suggested an ‘authentically’ German identity.
Ernst Reiß-Schmidt, ‘Nach dem Bade’ (‘After Bathing’). Bronze, life-size. Sold in 2007 for 22,000 euro by a German auction house.
Left: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, postcard, ‘Der Morgen’ (‘The Morning’). GDK 1943, room 21.
Right: ‘Der Morgen’, depicted in ‘Duesseldorfer Künstler im Haus der Deutschen Kunst’, 1943.
Left: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Aphrodite’. GDK 1944, room 15; depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Right: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Female Bust’, bronze, 60 cm high, foundry mark Gustav Schmäke. Sold at a German auction in 2015.
‘Ragazza con Scialle’
Left: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, ‘Ragazza con Scialle’ (‘Girl with Shawl’). Displayed at the ‘Esposizione d’Arte Contemporanea di Düsseldorf’, 1943, Florence. Depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Right: Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, the same sculpture displayed under the name ‘Mädchenakt’ (‘Nude Girl’) at the ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung’, 1942, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
In 1950 Reiss-Schmidt (industry-architect) patented a design for a ski-bike, later to become the ‘Gfaellerei’. His design was published in many foreign newspapers, especially in the USA. Below an article in a French newspaper of 1954, starting with ‘Bavarian architect and sculptor Ernst Reiss-Schmidt, inventor of…’.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt was born in 1902 in Düsseldorf. He studied at the Düsseldorfer Academy of Fine Arts under H. Metzer (Meisterschüler) and R. O. Langer. Reiss-Schmidt, sculptor and industry-achitect, lived and worked most of his live in Düsseldorf. In 1928 Reiss-Schmidt participated at the exhibition ‘Deutsche Kunst’ in the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf.
Reiss-Schmidt was represented in the Great German Art Exhibitions with 13 works. Hitler bought his work ‘Traumende’ for 13,500 RM and ‘Olympia‘ for 20,500 RM. Both sculptures are now in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin. In 1944 Martin Bormann bought Reiss-Schmidt’s GDK-work ‘Sinnen’. His other well-known GDK works, depicted in several art magazines and on postcards, include ‘Der Morgen‘, ‘Der verwundete Grenadier‘, ‘Bauernmadchen vom Niederrhein’ and ‘Olympia’.
Reiss-Schmidt was also represented at the exhibitions ‘Herbstausstellung Düsseldorfer Künstler’, 1940 and 1941, in the Kunsthalle Düssseldorf; at the ‘Rheinische Kunstausstellung’, Danzig, 1941; in 1941 at the exhibition ‘Westfaalsch-Nederrijnsche Kunst’, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (figure of a Farmer in plaster); at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausttellung’ 1942, Nationalgalerie; at the ‘Esposizione d’Arte Contemporanea di Duesseldorf’, 1943, in Florence and at the ‘Gau Ausstellung Westafalen-Süd, VII Grosse Sauerländiche Ausstellung’, 1944, Hagen.
In 1950 Reiss-Schmidt (industry-architect) patented a design for a ski-bike, later to become the ‘Gfaellerei’. His design was published in many foreign newspapers, especially in the USA.
Ernst Reiss-Schmidt died in 1987.
Nowadays in the possession of the Deutsches Historisches Museum are two works by Reiss-Schmitz: ‘Olympia’ (GDK 1944 room15) and ‘Träumende’ (‘Dreamer’, GDK 1943 room 7). The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen is in the possession of: ‘Stehende Frau’, Stehender weiblicher Akt’ and ‘Schwebende Jungfrau Olympia’. ‘Träumende’ was displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’. The exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.