Charles Krafft, his Forgiveness Perfume Bottle Series & Nazism Exposed {Culture & Art Notes}


An article in The New Yorker calls attention to the ambiguity of irony in art, which helped veil the ideological affiliations of artist Charles Krafft. Now that they have come to light, people are outraged at having been duped.

"Last month, an article by Jen Graves in Seattle's weekly paper The Stranger exposed the artist Charles Krafft as a white nationalist and Holocaust denier, and former admirers of his work are now stripping it from their walls...

"Krafft, who is sixty-five, has been a respected figure in the Seattle art world for decades; his work has been shown in galleries around the world and featured in Harper's, Artforum, and The New Yorker. Since the nineties, he has been known for combining decorative ceramics with loaded political imagery--delftware plates and other objects commemorating Nazi atrocities, porcelain AK-47s and hand grenades, perfume bottles with swastika stoppers, and a teapot and other pieces in the shape of Hitler's head. In the past, many art collectors and curators had interpreted this work as a critique of bigoted and totalitarian ideologies. Now, the revelations about Krafft's repugnant personal opinions have cast his work in a new light, and brought up knotty questions about how an artist's intent should influence our evaluation of his work. We have precedents for heinous personal beliefs coinciding with creative brilliance (Ezra Pound, Richard Wagner), and bigotry embodied in works of great formal achievement ("The Birth of a Nation," "Triumph of the Will"), but this is an unusual case of an artist's ideological extremism so suddenly exposed, and so plainly relevant to his art."

We don't really see how unique his case is and why one should take into account the fact that it's "plainly relevant to his art". We also think that a phrase like "Art about Nazism" would have been more felicitous than "Nazi Art" which seems to imply that it is an art which stems from Nazi ideological underpinnings. It's simply a crime to deny the Holocaust and to have done so in such a sly way is especially despicable.

At the Dali exhibition the other day, there were images of Hitler shown in the movie theater. This raises the question of visual responsibility (I took several pictures). My intention was to show a series of these images culminating in a pig's head so that there would be disambiguation in the end. Is that enough?

Picture:Unpop Art

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