My problem with Hitler’s paintings
In 2015, a painting was sold for 323,190 USD. The painting looks normal, it’s of the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, a beautiful landmark right out of a fairytale. The painting is by Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler is a man that bears his own introduction. He’s often known as “history’s most evil man,” this analysis is not wrong by any means. There is, however, another side to the man’s life, before being the properly titled “the ultimate evil,” he was a painter.
Hitler was said to have completed upwards of 300 paintings throughout the course of his life. He painted as a child, his first dream job being a professional artist. He painted while fighting in the first World War, carrying a pencil and paper with him everywhere he went. He most notably painted in Vienna, where he aspired to attend the coveted Academy of Fine Arts. All of this would come crashing down when he suffered the crushing defeat of two rejection letters for both of his submissions to the school.
So you get the picture, Hitler was a painter before he was a dictator. What’s so interesting? I’d argue that the whole concept is quite interesting, but I think that the meat of that comes from the paintings themselves. The paintings are bizarre but definitely not at first glance. The weird bit about every Hitler painting is that there’s usually something very wrong with it. One could argue that this is because of artistic integrity and for the sake of abstractivity. But one could argue pretty much anything. Hitler, in regards to painting, is known for his dislike of modern/experimental style, instead often referencing or even downright copying the works of painters before him. So, it’s the opinion of mine and many others (including art researchers) that these imperfections were very unintentional.
How I (and the Entire Internet) Found Out
The townhouse painting is probably the most well-known one on the Internet. It garnered attention on Reddit after someone posted this meme:
Hitler’s art has never been sheltered from criticism, but it really hit the mainstream more recently. Originally the meme was posted on the website “FunnyJunk'' about 10 years ago (obviously, seeing as the name of the website is “FunnyJunk”), but it was spread on Reddit by user u/coledog22 in 2013. The image has circulated throughout the Internet ever since. In April of 2022, leftist political streamer Hasan Piker posted a video to YouTube Shorts that garnered nearly two million views to date. In the clip, he says that he had been looking through a lot of Hitler’s art recently and noted that Hitler “was ass at painting,” and, more courteously, “he missed out on a lot of the fundamentals of art.” Many shared this same sentiment.
My opinion on this unnamed townhouse piece is pretty similar. It falls apart as you look at it. This is a shining example of his utter lack of understanding in composition. Composition can basically be broken down in layman’s terms to “where things go in a picture.” This piece, along with many others, definitely encourages one to think that he painted with a “go with the flow” type of method. This method is completely fine but not when you’re trying to do hyper-realism. It doesn’t work. He comes across as an improviser that struggles with thinking on his feet, a man shoved onto a stage and told to dance. His pieces, especially this one, come off as rushed or stressed.