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Arno_Breker

Arno Breker

Arno Breker (July 19, 1900February 13, 1991) was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Nazi Germany, which were endorsed by the authorities as the antithesis of so-called "degenerate art".

He was born in Elberfeld, now Wuppertal and died in Düsseldorf.

Life

Breker was born in Elberfeld, in the north of Germany, the son of a stone mason. He began to study architecture, along with stone-carving and anatomy, and at age 20 was accepted to the Düsseldolf Academy of Arts where concentrated on sculpture. He first visited Paris in 1924, shortly before finishing his studies. There he met with Jean Cocteau, Jean Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, and Alfred Flechtheim. In 1927 he moved to Paris, which he thereafter considered to be his home. He was quickly accepted by the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim. He also established close relationships with important figures in the art world, including Charles Despiau, Isamu Noguchi, Maurice de Vlaminck and André Dunoyer de Segonzac, of all of whom he later made portraits. He travelled to North Africa, producing lithographs which he published under the title "Tunisian Journey". He also visited Aristide Maillol, who was later to describe Breker as "Germany's Michelangelo".

In 1932 he was awarded a prize by the Prussian Ministry of Culture, which allowed him to stay in Rome for a year. In 1934 he returned to Germany on the advice of Max Liebermann. At this time Alfred Rosenberg, editor of the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, actually denounced some of Breker's work as degenerate art. However, Breker was supported by many Nazi leaders, especially Adolf Hitler. Even Rosenberg later hailed his sculptures as expressions of the "mighty momentum and willpower” (“Wucht und Willenhaftigkeit”) of Nazi Germany. By He took commissions from the Nazis from 1933 through 1942, for example participating in a show of his work in occupied Paris in 1942, where he met Jean Cocteau, who appreciated his work. He maintained personal relationships with Albert Speer and with Hitler. In 1936 he won the commission for two sculptures representing athletic prowess, intended for the 1936 Olympic games, one represented a Decathlete (“Zehnkämpfer”) and the other The Victress (“Die Siegerin”). In 1937 he married Demetra Messala, a Greek model, and also joined the Nazi Party to smooth the way for further patronage from Hitler.

The neoclassical nature of his work, with titles like Comradeship, Torchbearer, and Sacrifice, typified Nazi ideals, and suited the characteristics of Nazi architecture. On closer inspection, though, the proportions of his figures, the highly colouristic treatment of his surfaces (the strong contrasts between dark and light accents), and the melodramatic tension of their musculatures perhaps invites comparison with the Italian Mannerist sculptors of the 16th century. This Mannerist tendency to Breker's neoclassicism may suggest closer affinities to concurrent expressionist tendencies in German Modernism than is acknowledged.

His twin sculptures The Party and The Army held a prominent position at the entrance to the Reich Chancellery.

Breker was a professor of visual arts in Berlin, until the fall of the Third Reich. While nearly all of his sculptures survived WWII, more than 90% of his public work was destroyed by the allies after the war.

In 1948 Breker was designated as a "fellow traveller" of the Nazis and was fined. At this time he returned to Düsseldorf, which remained his base, with periods of residence in Paris. During this time he worked as an architect. However, he continued to receive commissions for sculptures, producing a number of works in his familiar classical style, working for businesses and individual patrons. He also produced many portrait sculptures. In 1970 he was commissioned by the king of Morocco to produce work for the United Nations Building in Casablanca, but the work was destroyed. Many other portrait works followed, including Anwar Sadat and Konrad Adenauer. Breker's rehabilitation continued, culminating in plans for the creation of a Breker museum, funded by the Bodenstein family, who set aside the castle of Nörvenich, between Aachen and Cologne for the purpose. The Arno Breker Museum was inaugurated in 1985.

Breker's rehabilitation led to backlashes from anti-Nazi activists, including controversy in Paris when some of his works were exhibited at the Pompidou Center in 1981. In the same year anti-Breker demonstrations accompanied an exhibition in Berlin. Breker's admirers insisted that he had never been a supporter of Nazi ideology (despite being a member of the Nazi Party), but had simply accepted their patronage.

Breker's last major work was a monumental sculpture of Alexander the Great intended to be located in Greece.

Portraits (mostly in bronze)

Sculptures 1935–1945

  • Prometheus (1935)
  • Relief am Gebäude der Lebensversicherung Nordstern, Berlin (1936)
  • Der Zehnkämpfer fürs Olympia-Stadion, Berlin (1936, Silvermedal)
  • Die Siegerin fürs Olympia-Stadion, Berlin (1936)
  • Dionysos fürs Olympia-Dorf, Berlin (1936)
  • Der Verwundete (1938)
  • Der Rosseführer (1938)
  • Anmut (1938)
  • Fackelträger („Die Partei“) im Hof der Neuen Reichskanzlei (1939)
  • Schwertträger („Die Wehrmacht“) im Hof der Neuen Reichskanzlei (1939)
  • Der Wäger (1939)
  • Der Wager (1939)
  • Bereitschaft (1939)
  • Der Rächer (1940)
  • Kameraden (1940), Breker-Museum
  • Bannerträger (1940)
  • Abschied (1940)
  • Vernichtung (1940)
  • Opfer (1940)
  • Schreitende (1940)
  • Der Wächter (1941)
  • Psyche (1941)
  • Berufung (1941)
  • Der Künder (1942)
  • Der Sieger (1942)
  • Kniende (1942)
  • Eos (1942)
  • Flora (1943)

Reliefs

  • Der Genius (1938)
  • Der Kämpfer (1938)
  • Apollo und Daphne
  • Auszug zum Kampf (1941)
  • Aufbruch der Kämpfer (1940/41)
  • Der Rufer (1941)
  • Orpheus and Eurydice (1944, Breker-Museum)

Books by and on Arno Breker

  • Dominique Egret (Hg.): Arno Breker. Ein Leben für das Schöne, A life for the Beautiful, 352 S., 600 Photographs, 1997, German, English, French. ISBN 3-87847-157-2.
  • Hermann Leber: Rodin, Breker, Hrdlicka ISBN 3-487-10722-8
  • Volker G. Probst: Das Pietà-Motiv bei Arno Breker. 1985.
  • Volker G. Probst: Der Bildhauer Arno Breker – Eine Untersuchung, Marco Edition, ISBN 3-921754-07-0.
  • Volker G. Probst: Das Bildnis des Menschen im Werk von Arno Breker, Studio de L'Art 1981 Berlin, Marco-VG, ISBN 3-921754-13-5.
  • Arno Breker: Schriften, 190 S., zahlreiche Abbildungen, Einleitung F.J. Hall, Marco Bonn-Paris-New York, ISBN 3-921754-19-4.
  • B. John Zavrel: Arno Breker - His Art and Life, 1985 West-Art USA, ISBN 0-914301-01-2
  • Arno Breker: Begegnungen und Betrachtungen, 1987, Marco Paris-New York, ISBN 3-921754-27-5.
  • Dr. Hans Klier: Arno Breker - Form und Schönheit, 1978 Salzburger Kulturvereinigung, Marco-Edition Bonn-Paris.
  • B. John Zavrel: Interview with Arno Breker: The divine Beauty in Art, New York, 1982, West-Art USA ISBN 0-914301-04-7.
  • Uwe Möller: Arno Breker - Zeichnungen - Drawings - Dessins 1927-1990, Bildband mit 110 Handzeichnungen, Museums-Edition.
  • Roger Peyrefitte: Hommage a Arno Breker, 1980, Marco-Editeur Paris. mit 8 Originallithographien.
  • Reagan/Bush/Carstens: Salut America (zu 300 Jahre Einwanderung USA), Lithographien von Arno Breker. West-Art, N.Y.
  • Charles Despiau: Arno Breker, 1942, Bildband zur Retrospektive in der Orangerie Paris. Edition Flammarion/Frankreich.
  • Paul Morand, Dali, Fuchs u.a.: Hommage a Arno Breker zum 75. Geburtstag des Künstlers 1975, Edition Mourlot/Marco Paris.
  • Rolf Schilling: Eros und Ares - Begegnung mit Breker, 1994, Edition Arnshaugk ISBN 3-926370-21-1
  • Arno Breker - Über allem Schönheit, Farb-Katalog als Festgabe zum 100.Geburtstag. Edition Dr. S. Nöhring/Museum Europäische Kunst

Films / Video

  • Arno Breker – Harte Zeit, starke Kunst, by Arnold Fanck, Hans Cürlis, Riefenstahl-Film GmbH, Berlin (1944)
  • Arno Breker - Skulpturen und Musik, by Marco J. Bodenstein, 20 Minuten, Marco-Edition Bonn.
  • Arno Breker - Deutsche Lebensläufe, Farbfilm 60 Minuten, Marco-VG, Bonn
  • Paris-Rom-Berlin und Arno Breker, and Interview with Albert Speer. Farbfilm, 60 Minuten, EKS Museum Europäische Kunst, Schloss 52388 Nörvenich.

See also

Footnotes

External links

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