Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Austrian painter

Schwarzenegger Hall
J. Paul Getty Center
Los Angeles, California
Modern Day

Adolf Disney Hitler was getting annoyed at some of the questions. He was told he was invited here for a gala lecture to present the loan of several paintings from his grandfather’s Third Period. Most of the packed audience seemed to be art students and experts, with intelligent questions and appropriate respect. The last question had a subversive element, asked far too casually. Perhaps southern Californians were just less formal than Germans? He wondered how his grandfather, the great Minister of Propaganda, would respond, and crafted a plan to retaliate. “Thank you for your question, sir. Did everyone hear that?”
He knew they wouldn’t, in a room with over 500 people, and a sea of shaking heads confirmed it. “Very well, I will repeat the question. The – ahem, distinguished gentleman in the tie-dye shirt has asked -” he put on his deadpan face, then repeated the question verbatim, with his best impersonation of the accent – “Dude, wasn’t Adolf Hitler like totally pissed off at the whole world before even the Second Period?” The titters from the audience were worth almost as much as his victim’s glare. “This is not a new question. Many of you Americans resent losing the war and they try to present Adolf Hitler as a man of hate, from the beginning. But my grandfather’s life and work has been studied by many historians and psychoanalysts. There is strong agreement that, although work from his First Period shows angst over German security and anger toward the Treaty of Versailles, it is generally dominated by love for Germany and his new British wife. Evelyn Brown was his friend, lover, art teacher, mother of his two children and a devoted wife until the – incident with the rabbi. Two paintings show this best. May I see slide 24, please?” He kept speaking while an invisible kid in the back scrambled for the slide.
“Remember the man was a newlywed also[1] at this time, in 1910 – why would he be angry? Evelyn loved and inspired him. He had been rejected from the Vienna Art Academy twice, in 1907 and 1908[2], then met her and showed such remarkable improvement that he was accepted in 1909. Ah, here is the slide. The Beauty of Bavaria is a classic painting from his First Period. The foreground of this painting shows a young couple, in love, enjoying a dinner of Bubenspitzle. Note the relaxed outdoor setting and pleasant weather, rife with bursting flowers, that captured the spring perfectly. The colorful empty beer steins and rosy cheeks further support the warm colors that match the deeper reds of the blooming roses behind them. The lighting, soft perspectives, gentle tones, light composition and happy expressions in the foreground clearly show – yes?” He paused to answer a young woman waving her hand.
“Professor, doesn’t the name of that dish translate as baby penis?”
“Yes. It is a traditional dish in southwest Germany. Bavaria, Schwabia, Baden – very popular[3]. Please, let me finish. Yes, it is true that the background has some elements that may be foreboding, even angry. We see a man in a high castle overlooking the lovers. Frankly, Frankish resentment toward France is obvious, as the man faces west. This shows the need for security to protect love and traditional German ways, forcing worry on a happy and peaceful society. Note that the waiter to the left wears a yarmulke, and is portrayed like other waiters, without the artistic characterizations of Jews that my grandfather began to develop in his Second Period. This is typical of work throughout his first period, all the way through 1914, when he volunteered to serve in the Bavarian Army. May I see slide 38, please?” He paused again, not bothering to scan the audience this time.
“And here is, of course, one of his most dramatic and dynamic works, Betrayal. This is his most direct depiction of the fateful day that changed him forever. Can you imagine? To return home, from a war, after four years, to find your wife in your bed with the local rabbi? Filthy whore!” He spat on the ground, and viciously stared away a young American staffer who moved in with a towel. “Everyone agrees that his portrayal of his British wife and the rabbi shows great distress. That was the source of his newfound inspiration and emotion. It was nothing earlier.” He paused. “Betrayal is one of over 60 paintings he made during his time in Landsberg prison for manslaughter[4] from 1918-1920, which he collectively called Mein Kampf. It was the anti-Semitic and pro-German themes in this Second Period - not earlier - that first drew attention from his future colleagues like Hess, Ludendorff and Goering.” He paused again. “The influence of these men, and the experience of working with the National Socialist Workers Party, inspired new artistic direction that truly captured our peoples’ oppression and abuse and helped the party win election in 1933. It was only after the - incident with the rabbi that Hitler began portraying Jews more figuratively, with claws, fangs, bulging eyes, and artistic abstractions also where the phallus should be, like a bar of gold, mushroom or Churchill’s face. Yes?”
“But he was in Spain a lot during the 20s, right? I mean, the Spanish influences are clear by the middle of the Second Period.”
“Right. He met Franco while presenting his work at El Prado. His resulting years in Spain not only improved his painting in many ways, but showed also his power to reach the masses in other countries. His artistic influence through Manuel Azana Schweinehund[5] and Llop Catalunya[6] inspired the Madrid riots of 1935 and helped the fascists win quickly. Of course, by then he was Minister of Propaganda, and his 1936 painting Victory at Guernica was his first work as the Fuehrer. You can see the influence of Spanish artists like Picasso there, with - yes?”
“And Spanish art and dance also influenced his granddaughter, right? Your cousin? And her husband?”
“Yes. Her art shows also strong Spanish influences, as does her husband’s. But not until later. Her mother, Adolf Hitler’s daughter, was estranged from the family after the – incident with the rabbi and fled beyond our homeland near Bavaria, to the southeasternmost part of Austria, called Styria. She befriended a local Nazi police chief, Gustav Schwarzenegger, and her daughter later married his son Arnold. Of course Arnold’s initial efforts with nature painting did not go well, and he only attained fame after training as a flamenco dancer. After his Broadway debut in the musical Hercules the Aryan Hero, he-” Dammit, another hand was waving. Would these Americans let him finish anything? “Yes?”
“And this is what brought your grandfather to America?”
“Yes. He came to see the musical, which he strongly disliked, but met many influential filmmakers. I heard that it is now well known that my grandfather’s painting career ended with Parkinson’s Disease. So he turned to film. He knew already many American filmmakers, and found Walt Disney sympathetic. My grandfather and later my father, who married one of Disney’s daughters[7], produced numerous films like Mary Poppins the Flying British Witch, Snow White and the Seven Jews, Commies in Congress, Jewtopia, The Lady and the Jew, Der Fuehrer’s Face[8], Victory through Aryan Power[9], Triumph of the Shill, Greedy Jew Pirates of the Caribbean, The Darkies in the Jungle Book, and the most controversial: Hansel, Gretel, the Warty-Faced Jew and Her Deserved Fate. And of course he contributed to many Johannes Blondi[10] movies like Dr. Stein, Live and Let Commies Die, Phooey on Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Jew with the Golden Gun, the Goldfingered Jew, The World is not Enough for Deutschland and License to Kill Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I see another question. The gentleman in the back, with the – uhm – torn short trousers and T-shirt and – excuse me – beach shoes?”
“What if Hitler had been a worse painter?”
“Excuse me?”
“Well, dude, you know, it’s a common alternate history question. I mean-“
Hitler waved him off. “Yes, yes. This is absurd, of course. How else could an unknown man, with no money or talent or education or connections, gain the fame to become Fuehrer? Who would listen to a man with only anger, without his gift for expression? There are many such questions from alternate history. What if Spain never joined the Axis powers? What if my grandfather never met the traitor Evelyn Brown, and had less anger toward England? Maybe he would not have demolished the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk to the last man, or moved almost all of the Luftwaffe from Africa and the Mediterranean Sea to win the Battle of Britain in 1940. Maybe we wouldn’t have won that war, or maybe we would have won the next one. Or maybe even you Americans.” He smiled, then shook his head. “Fine speculation for old men, but I see no point in it. If you change one thing in history, other things change too. Perhaps, as they say, we’d all be speaking English today.” Hitler saw the captain of the Chinese Loong[11]-troopers motion to his rifle and knew painfully well what that meant. His last comment went too far. He was hoping to spend his long flight home to Landsberg prison right side up, at least a millimeter from any bamboo, but he’d have to accept the usual. “I see my visit here is ending. I thank the Imperial Chinese Dictatorship and Cultural Ministry for allowing me this brief respite from confinement. Please direct any further questions to the Imperial Administrator of Landsberg prison. Shia Shia[12].” 

[1] Advice to Germans: never put “already” or “also” wherever you think they belong in an English sentence.
[2] This is true. He was never accepted, but continued painting his whole life, even while Fuehrer.
[3] Also true. They serve it with fried onions, cheese, brown onion sauce, and/or other stuff. Delicious.
[4] Hitler was sentenced to that prison for five years in 1924 for the Beer Hall Putsch. He was released later in 1924.
[5] Azana was the leader of the democratically elected Republicans, who lost the Spanish Civil War, from 1936-1939.
[6] I think this means Catalan Wolf. Hitler liked wolves.
[7] Disney’s racism against blacks and Jews is not my creation, nor his involvement with the Red Scare in the 50s. Disney had 2 daughters; Hitler had no known children.
[8] This is a real Disney film in 1943. It is in fact anti-Hitler propaganda.
[9] Mocks “Victory through Air Power,” another 1943 Disney film.
[10] Hitler owned a German shepherd named Blondi. Hitler used Blondi to test cyanide capsules in 1945.
[11] This means dragon, in poor Mandarin
[12] Thank you, in Mandarin

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