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The Irony Is
February 25, 2013 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Charles Krafft is known for his ironic Nazi ceramics — except that he's a Nazi Jen Graves in the Stranger finds malice under Krafft's provocation. (Via; previously, previously.)
posted by klangklangston (89 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Charles Krafft Is a White Nationalist Who Believes the Holocaust Is a Deliberately Exaggerated Myth by Jen Graves"

Shame on you, Jen Graves!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:10 AM on February 25, 2013 [29 favorites]


Scratch an ironic racist and you'll usually only scratch off the irony.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:11 AM on February 25, 2013 [154 favorites]


Interesting, and I applaud FAMSF's decision to keep the pieces:
Will the museum get rid of the Krafft? That's unlikely, [Timothy Burgard, who is in charge of American art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)] said, explaining that he values the perspectives brought by artworks, maybe even more so when they're reminders of attitudes we'd forget at our own risk of repeating them.
If anyone was wondering about the deported Rumanian Orthodox archbishop, it looks like he was Valerian Trifa, who served in Grass Lake, Mich. (NYT abstract, Wikipedia page on Trifa).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:11 AM on February 25, 2013


If galleries threw out all the artwork that was produced by assholes, well, um, well let's just say there'd be a lot less art in the galleries.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


You know what other iconoclast artist was a Nazi?
posted by chavenet at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [16 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "If galleries threw out all the artwork that was produced by assholes, well, um, well let's just say there'd be a lot less art in the galleries."

I guess Manzoni would have to go.
posted by chavenet at 10:15 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Arbeit Macht Kitsch
posted by Renoroc at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2013 [22 favorites]


Washington Nazis.



I hate Washington Nazis.
posted by mazola at 10:19 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess Manzoni would have to go.

Keith Boadwee clearly in that case too.*

*Note: Google at your own risk!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2013


"If galleries threw out all the artwork that was produced by assholes, well, um, well let's just say there'd be a lot less art in the galleries."

I think there's a substantial difference between art made by assholes — Picasso and Dali were both shitheels to everyone around them — and art where the abhorrent ideology is the content. There's a difference between Spiegleman and Riefenstahl even if Spiegleman can be a bit of a prick at times.

I also think that reducing it to Krafft being an asshole functions as a rhetorical cover for people to keep enjoying his work under the premise that it is something that it isn't. The viewer can always create irony — the collections by African Americans of the pickaninny art of the late 19th/early 20th century is a good example — but it does require being honest about what the intent of the art was, and having a sincere laudatory take on White Nationalism does make the work significantly more problematic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 AM on February 25, 2013 [38 favorites]


When the thread already is about a Nazi, do we really need to Godwin?
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:26 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


When the thread already is about a Nazi, do we really need to Godwin?

Whoa now, this is Metafilter after all...
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:29 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how Holocaust denial goes along with Hitler reverence and antisemitism.

So you think Hitler was a pretty cool guy for hating the Jews and then not doing much about it?

Trying to bring sense into this bullshit is probably where I'm going wrong.
posted by ODiV at 10:29 AM on February 25, 2013 [42 favorites]


The most repulsive part of this story to me is the number of holocaust-denyin' pro-Nazi "history" buffs who jump into the comments on The Stranger -- a site I enjoy, and comment on a lot, but am rather ashamed of at times. There are a LOT of antediluvian racist scumbags wit opinions about "mud people" and "degenerates" in my state. I guess they follow Dan Savage around, and stay for the Charles Mudede and Jen Graves (who are the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet).
posted by Fnarf at 10:30 AM on February 25, 2013


And do you know who else was a Nazi and an artist?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2013


Jeez I hope you're not going to say Charlie Parker.
posted by Mister_A at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


I think there's a substantial difference between art made by assholes — Picasso and Dali were both shitheels to everyone around them — and art where the abhorrent ideology is the content.

This is true, of course, but it's not that difficult to find art in great galleries that is made by people who held deeply objectionable political beliefs and who felt strongly that their art spoke to and furthered those political beliefs. Once the passions animating those political opinions fade far enough into the past, we usually stop caring (see the Italian Futurists for one example).

If I ran a dealer gallery or was in charge of acquisitions I know that right now I'd elect to have nothing whatsoever to do with Krafft, and I'd think long and hard about how to contextualize any work of his that we might choose to put into a show in a museum if I were curating an exhibition. But I also know that there's an element of doublethink (perhaps an unavoidable and excusable one) involved in this. There are lots of circumstances where we will say "the object speaks for itself and the artist's interpretation is just one among many." A case like this shows us that we don't really quite believe that.

(The case that always teaches me that I don't quite believe that--or that I can't disentangle what I know about an artist fully from what I think of their art--is Emil Nolde. I grew up absolutely loving his work and for years operated in blissful ignorance about what an enthusiastic and dedicated Nazi he was [not that the love was reciprocated--luckily for him the Nazis saw his art as just so much more entartete kunst]; but ever since I learned this I find it hard to look at his ravishingly beautiful work with anything like the same uncomplicated joy it used to bring me.)
posted by yoink at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have to say I'm torn:

On one hand, fuck nazis.
On the other hand, hipsters and art freaks buying Nazi shit to be "ironic" get no sympathy from me whatsoever.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:52 AM on February 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't understand how Holocaust denial goes along with Hitler reverence and antisemitism.

So you think Hitler was a pretty cool guy for hating the Jews and then not doing much about it?


Yeah, that always gets me too. What I find weirdest is the kind of odd doublethink that goes on whereby inventing the "myth" of the Holocaust and imposing it on the world is proof that the Jews are exactly the kind of evil scumbags who deserved to be exterminated, just like good old Hitler said. Neo-nazis love indulging in genocidal fantasies and talking about who they would and wouldn't put through the ovens and so forth; and yet any suggestion that their great hero might have actually acted on some of these fantasies is clearly an outrageous lie.
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on February 25, 2013


On the other hand, hipsters and art freaks buying Nazi shit to be "ironic" get no sympathy from me whatsoever.

They didn't think they were "buying Nazi shit to be ironic." They thought they were buying anti-Nazi art that used irony to get its point across.
posted by yoink at 10:55 AM on February 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


Nazi artists - they're all kunst.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


Krafft via Vimeo
"*CHARLES KRAFFT is considered a pioneer of the "low brow" or Pop Surrealism movement. This is an alternative visual arts universe with roots in California custom car culture, surfing culture and '60s era underground comix. It*s a streetwise aesthetic that has been evolving and spreading out across the globe while remaining still overlooked by most mainstream art critics, museum curators and historians. He is the inventor of DISASTERWARE* ( blue and white commemorative ceramics informed by violence, politics, and natural catastrophies) and SPONE* (custom human bone china reliquaries made from crematory ash). Krafft is self-taught. His shrewd art and informal lifestyle evolved out of long friendships with the reclusive painter of startled birds, Morris Graves (l910-2001) and the crackerjack Hollywood hot rod hero, Von Dutch (l926-l992). He can get down with any militantly aesthetic easel painter, multi-media maestro or wooly potter, but when it comes to the mechanics of art making Krafft prefers the company of criminals, undertakers and blue haired grannies."
posted by entropos at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2013


My first reaction was to wonder if this was a The-Awl-type-hipster "intellectual" fad thing
posted by Bwithh at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2013


Now what am I gonna do with all these full-body Hitler nudes? And you guys already have all the full-body Hitler nudes you could ever need!
posted by Nomyte at 11:11 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: Now what am I gonna do with all these full-body Hitler nudes? And you guys already have all the full-body Hitler nudes you could ever need!
Resisting the temptation to link them with the Bush 'nude' self-portraits... and failing.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


mccarty.tim: When the thread already is about a Nazi, do we really need to Godwin?
The canonical usage of Godwin's Law precludes a thread about Nazis from ever being godwinned.

Also, I believe this is covered in Robert's Rules of Order. Or should be.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2013


So at least he's sincere, he's got that going for him.
posted by Mister_A at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So at least he's sincere, he's got that going for him.

Hah! Although I can't help wondering if this isn't going to take some Andy Kauffmanesque long-con turn. "Artist impersonates neo-nazi for years as extended work of performance art." Of course, if he tries to bring that off he's going to need to have submitted some sort of notarized, time-stamped documentation to the effect that this was what he planned to do all along or nobody will believe it for a second.
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: ""If galleries threw out all the artwork that was produced by assholes, well, um, well let's just say there'd be a lot less art in the galleries."

I think there's a substantial difference between art made by assholes — Picasso and Dali were both shitheels to everyone around them —...
"

Hey, wait a minute ... Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole.
posted by chavenet at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder if he developed Nazi sympathies as a result of the combination of being a bit loony to begin with and spending so much time re-crafting their iconography.
posted by ignignokt at 11:43 AM on February 25, 2013


The way I heard it, Charlie hung out with biker gangs (first Bandidos in Skagit and later Angels in the Netherlands.)
posted by warbaby at 11:46 AM on February 25, 2013


Krafft's Facebook posts got the attention of Tim Detweiler... director of the Museum of Northwest Art. He's not sure how to feel. "If you were a Nazi sympathizer and selling Hitler paraphernalia by the side of the road, you'd be killed," Detweiler said. "But he's selling it at the highest-priced stores and at galleries all over the country... It would be like if Kara Walker came out after doing all these years of pickaninnies"—Walker is an African American artist who makes cartoonish silhouettes of horrible scenes from slavery—"and said, 'Oh, through my research, I've found that the slave trade was not as bad as we thought—the numbers were exaggerated and the slaves had more choice than we thought.' What would you think of her work then?"

Actually, you know, this is kind of an interesting idea - but honestly, after chasing it around a bit I think I would hate the work.

Sure, a lot of art wants/needs/is best taken with no context of who the artist is/what they think, (often the case with abstract painting or sculpture, performers, too) but some work is specifically about what the artist thinks and this has to be included as part of the appreciation of the work. Walker's images are disturbing and powerful but are tempered and galvanized by who she is and what she has said about her work.

I don't know Krafft's work, but I do know that if I saw it I would assume that it thought Hitler an ass and any reverence for him and his 'ideals' and everything he represented as being worthless and risible and etc. Knowing that Krafft does not think that way... I'm trying to think of another way of saying "fuck this guy"
posted by From Bklyn at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ironic racism is that Casual Hitler that was on SNL a few weeks back (I chortled when he said "Byeil" I admit it). Krafft's work isn't ironic in the humorist sense--check this out. It's not funny or attempting to be--it's the juxtaposition of a folk craft usually employed in the shape of, say, cute bunnies, and it is shocking to see an icon of evil displayed there instead. It is problematic that the artist has come to believe a bunch of bullshit, but it doesn't change the value of the art as an object.

On the other hand, maybe this helps clarify that creepy porcelain statues ain't that great to begin with.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:54 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that I really wonder about Holocaust deniers is how they explain where all the Jews went.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:03 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


how they explain where all the Jews went.

Well, some of them argue that while many Jewish people died, this was from disease and the other effects of war, not from a policy of extermination. Others, I suppose, hold the view that everyone else believes lies about how many Jews there were in the first place.
posted by thelonius at 12:07 PM on February 25, 2013


Part of me is cheering at the uncomfortable conversations that are being forced to be had amongst the arts scene that had accepted the ironic racism argument. I get the sense that this guys has always had these views and the clues were always there but no one wanted to see. People are now having to face some really hard questions.

And, I think this sums up perfectly how ridiculous his tirade is:

His main thing is that the Holocaust is an exaggeration. I say, if they only killed 10,000 people because they were Jewish, it would still be a holocaust, jackass.
posted by Leezie at 12:11 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


No Holocaust denier, save for the useful idiots like James P. Hogan, actually really believes that the Jews weren't killed or that it was all a mistake. They're proud of it when they're under true believers, but they also know that for some silly reason most folk, even decent upstanding white folk, don't agree with them.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:16 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that this guys has always had these views and the clues were always there but no one wanted to see. People are now having to face some really hard questions.

Perhaps, but the linked article suggests otherwise. That is, there are a lot of quotes from friends and acquaintances to the effect that his views changed, that he started becoming obsessed with this stuff etc. etc. It's possible he was always a secret Nazi, but it's not clear from the information we have.
posted by yoink at 12:23 PM on February 25, 2013


Nazi punks fuck off...
posted by ennui.bz at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


No Holocaust denier, save for the useful idiots like James P. Hogan, actually really believes that the Jews weren't killed or that it was all a mistake.

Well, none of them believe it was "all a mistake." They believe it's a deliberately imposed lie. But I think it's too sweeping to suggest that "no holocaust denier" really believes what they're saying. Like most people I think they have a weird mish-mash of often quite incompatible beliefs. Let us say that no holocaust denier has actually impartially studied the evidence and simply been persuaded by what they found there. Beyond that I think you get all kinds of weird motivations and paradoxical beliefs.
posted by yoink at 12:27 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes we fail to acknowledge that an evil ideology can be placed in an aesthetically pleasing package, yet we are still drawn to it because it is evil not in spite of it.
posted by jonp72 at 12:28 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


They didn't think they were "buying Nazi shit to be ironic." They thought they were buying anti-Nazi art that used irony to get its point across.
posted by yoink at 1:55 PM on February 25 [8 favorites +] [!]


Well, hopefully in the future they'll find better ways to express how much they don't like Nazis that doesn't involve buying stuff festooned with unironic swastikas and images of Hitler.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:30 PM on February 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


There have always been fascist loving artists who felt at home with the bad guys- but here we are dealing with a "post-fascist" artist who seem to feel an affinity toward historical wretches. Is it possible to like the art but not the man? As for me, I care not at all for the art or the man, though my contempt for the guy probably influences my dislike for his adoring subject.
posted by Postroad at 12:52 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


hopefully in the future they'll find better ways to express how much they don't like Nazis that doesn't involve buying stuff festooned with unironic swastikas and images of Hitler

The sooner you share with us all your infallible method for determining when an image or statement is or is not ironic, the happier the whole world will be.
posted by yoink at 12:58 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that this guys has always had these views and the clues were always there but no one wanted to see.

My sense—given that the story is more or less accurate—is that this is a guy who's always had a load of resentments and who's always liked to, basically, troll the shit out of his audience. At first, working with Nazi iconography was enough to produce the kind of frisson he wanted and then eventually he grew more comfortable letting the ideology provide an explanatory framework for his issues.

The sooner you share with us all your infallible method for determining when an image or statement is or is not ironic, the happier the whole world will be.

If it's that hard to tell, then maybe Hitler was just being ironic about Nazism. I mean, who can say?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:07 PM on February 25, 2013


If it's that hard to tell, then maybe Hitler was just being ironic about Nazism. I mean, who can say?

Wait, you're saying that making a china teapot out of Hitler's head is just as obviously non-ironic as mobilizing an entire nation (and, ultimately, group of nations) in a years-long effort to exterminate an entire people?

I actually can't tell if you're being ironic or not, which is, in itself, ironic. Perhaps you think I'm suggesting that he's being "ironic" in his neo-Nazi statements? I'm not. I'm talking about the art objects he made and released before his neo-Nazi affinities became public knowledge. Uther Bentrazor is suggesting that the people who purchased those assuming they were ironic were clearly fools, incapable of recognizing what were obviously unironic, pro-Nazi works. This seems to me to be an insupportable claim.
posted by yoink at 1:14 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The video linked above provides at least two clues indicating a far-right view of the world, as opposed to just "ironic" swastikas. This is not to say that I would necessarily have noticed them if I hadn't read the article, but I'm also not a fan of "ironic" racism on the whole. First, notice the images on the disasterware highlighted, which include DRESDEN 1944 and not, say, Jews being herded into the gas chambers. Of course non-Nazis have engaged with the Bombing of Dresden, but it is a main neo-Nazi grievance, too. Krafft may have initially found it appealing because it is not as well-known as the Holocaust for the average American and thus he could troll his audience with a lesser-known catastrophe, but as he said in the video, he knows what he's doing.

Second, and I say this as someone opposed to NATO's bombing, he claims his impetus for starting the gun ceramics was seeing Bosnians in the Balkan Wars with AK-47s. Why only Bosnians and not the many other groups who also had AKs? I think that various White Nationalists glommed onto supporting Serbs through opposition to the "NWO" and Muslims, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Gnatcho at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Scratch an ironic racist and you'll usually only scratch off the irony.

This kind of thing predates hipster irony, unless you consider Lemmy a hipster. Nazi iconography and art has always attracted people because of its aesthetics and because its the ultimate transgression (for a good reason).

The article won't load for me, but I GISed his art. If you scrubbed the symbols from them his weapons would just look cool, like highbrow versions of videogame replica weapons. The Charles Manson bust is either an ironic comment on Manson fans or something they'd own; I could ask them.

And no mention of Hipster Hitler, which can be funny?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2013


This piece of his speaks to both peaceniks and Nazis.
posted by exogenous at 1:34 PM on February 25, 2013


Dog shit is dog shit no matter what the dog ate. Something sadly hilarious about people who were apparently more than happy to do apologetics for this guy when they thought they knew his "intent", now just horrified to find they got some stink on them.
posted by anazgnos at 1:43 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back in 2005, Charles Krafft was the first place winner of the 2nd Annual David McCalden Most Macabre Halloween Holocaust Tale Challenge, where contestants tried to find what they considered to be the most exaggerated accounts of Holocaust atrocities.

The man is a turd.
posted by orme at 1:45 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Uther Bentrazor is suggesting that the people who purchased those assuming they were ironic were clearly fools, incapable of recognizing what were obviously unironic

I rather took Bentrazor's point to be that making art which trades largely, if not entirely, on the iconography of Nazism is already problematic regardless of whether the artist is being "ironic" or not. Produced ironically, Nazi bibelots are merely in bad taste; produced unironically, they're vile. You can credit Krafft's collectors and buyers with all the good faith and good will in the world and still not be surprised when the guy who really likes Nazi stuff turns out to be a Nazi.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:48 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


O Iconic mustache! Fair attitude! with brede
Of horrible men and maidens overwrought,
With festooned cliché and well-trodden quips;
Thou, silent smirk, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Hipster Poseur!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a bestie to strivers, to whom thou say'st,
"Irony is truth, truth ironic, yo" - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:51 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


orme: "Back in 2005, Charles Krafft was the first place winner of the 2nd Annual David McCalden Most Macabre Halloween Holocaust Tale Challenge, where contestants tried to find what they considered to be the most exaggerated accounts of Holocaust atrocities."

So, that site has a "Satire" page, which is... interesting.
posted by brundlefly at 1:56 PM on February 25, 2013


Smash the pot.
posted by Ghost Mode at 2:06 PM on February 25, 2013


I rather took Bentrazor's point to be that making art which trades largely, if not entirely, on the iconography of Nazism is already problematic regardless of whether the artist is being "ironic" or not.

Yes, that's what I was driving at, thank you.


Meanwhile, you'll forgive me if I choose not to address the ridiculous strawman that demands I define irony for all of humanity, thanks.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:23 PM on February 25, 2013


The comments are really something. Kara Walker shows up!
posted by subdee at 3:31 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


At a punk show I was at years ago, someone brought in a cake with a swastika on it in icing, and everyone seemed to take it as ironic. And this was a scene that had previously taken what I shall call strong tactics to expelling the nazi-punk element.

I guess there is a tendency to see as ridiculous the juxtaposition of a symbol of hate with someone something like icing a cake or dainty ceramics. But I bet nazis like cake. Most people like cake. So a nazi isn't going to see it as incongruous to decorate a cake with a swastika.

Krafft also makes ceramic grenades and plates decorated with pictures of violence, so I can see how people would have taken this stuff as just playing with that perceived incongruity.
posted by RobotHero at 3:31 PM on February 25, 2013


I bet Ai Weiwei is a commie.
posted by surplus at 3:38 PM on February 25, 2013


At first, working with Nazi iconography was enough to produce the kind of frisson he wanted and then eventually he grew more comfortable letting the ideology provide an explanatory framework for his issues.


...we must be careful what we pretend to be.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:51 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


But without a hateful Hitler teapot, how does one successfully brew ironic hipster tea?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2013


I find it amusing that he's so into his identity as a White Anglo-Saxon *Protestant*. Has anyone ever mentioned to him that Jesus was Jewish?
posted by uosuaq at 4:18 PM on February 25, 2013


Nazis and cake.
posted by klangklangston at 4:31 PM on February 25, 2013


But without a hateful Hitler teapot, how does one successfully brew ironic hipster tea?

Use a Mao teapot, chinese tea is better anyway.

pre-emptive: I realize that Mao is as big a scumbag as hitler, just making a point
posted by jonmc at 5:05 PM on February 25, 2013


They didn't think they were "buying Nazi shit to be ironic." They thought they were buying anti-Nazi art that used irony to get its point across.

now that's ironic

Krafft's work isn't ironic in the humorist sense--check this out. It's not funny or attempting to be

speak for yourself. I can't view a Hitler head teapot as anything but funny, regardless of the intention behind it, because it just can't help but be a mean world-conquering mutherf***er of a teapot either way. That it's the work of a guy who now seems to honestly respect the life and work of Adolph H is ultimately kind of sad ... on a level of artistic achievement. Because truly, that teapot does nothing but make me want to laugh at the moron whose face adorns it.

I mean, is this Jesus With A Gun painting somehow less absurd if we discover that the painter actually believes that Jesus would have carried a rifle?
posted by philip-random at 6:03 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


no holocaust denier has actually impartially studied the evidence and simply been persuaded by what they found there.

Ah, would that it were so.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:30 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


FuzzyB - I saw it over a decade ago and I'm still creeped out by Mr. Death.
posted by philip-random at 6:41 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't a ceramic grenade be as effective as a normal one, since it would explode into shrapnel?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2013


I think the teapot is rather funny, and the fact that its creator is a holocaust denier makes it even funnier. Does it matter that this wasn't his intent? I wouldn't put any money his way, but if the objects have already been purchased then why not laugh at them.

More generally, I've noticed that some racists and anti-Semites seem unable to avoid signalling their beliefs. They don't want to say what they believe openly, but they'll drop a deliberate hint and see if anyone notices. If they're called to account for it they'll protest and say that it was accidental, how can you say such a thing, you're censoring me - and then they'll do it again. I think it's an attention-seeking exercise; I can't see any other motive.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


He derives a little too much pleasure in putting things in the kiln.
posted by dr_dank at 6:57 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"These blind-looking eyes also evoke associations with... the world turning a blind eye to the horrors of the Holocaust."
— Timothy Burgard, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
"What sort of man was Duke Lotto Agamemnides? We may say he was a brave man, yet a man who knew the value of caution. We may say he was possessed of a highly refined sense of honor — yet, like all leaders, he was no less capable of acts duplicitous and sleazy. We may say this, we may say that — indeed, we may say anything we want. We may say, for example, that he was not a man at all, but rather a highly evolved bicycle. See? We may say just about anything."
— From House Agamenides: Historical Perspectives and Worthless Digressions, by the Princess Serutan — Doon
posted by mph at 7:07 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Hitler teapot seems to have at least a couple possible non-ironic meanings. The interpretations rely on the "tempest in a teapot" trope. If you make a teapot out of Hitler's head, Hitler's ideas are the symbolic "tempest" contained inside.

My first thought was that the artist is saying the Holocaust amounts to a tempest in a teapot. An alternate explanation: the tempest in the teapot is concern over contemporary white separatism. I think this interpretation is more likely to be correct because of the word "Idaho" at the bottom of the teapot. Idaho is home to Ruby Ridge, where the federal agents killed a white separatist along with his son and daughter. In either case, it's a terrible message.

Irony can be done well. But asking for an ironic Hitler is asking very little out of art. I don't think it's surprising that we got very little in return.
posted by compartment at 7:54 PM on February 25, 2013


I think its more kitsch than irony.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:58 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


And come to think of it, the one hallmark of Hitler's oratory style is its lack of irony - and maybe that over the top, ultra-earnest, ultra-classical style has been poisoned by its association with Hitler. What we have now is a mode of discourse where everything is cutesy and ironic, which deflates that. So even if this guy is a neo-Nazi he's still defeating that ideology because he's also defeating that mode of being, that mode of meaning, that allows strong ideology and belief to flourish.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:59 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


My husband's grandfather's brother's were killed in concentration camps. Exterminated like rats. So no, not funny or ironic in our family.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:47 PM on February 25, 2013


Nazi art itself was devoted to maximum kitsch, so an apologist could claim that this style is essential to whatever irony is supposed to be afoot in these neo-fascist ceramics.
posted by thelonius at 9:18 PM on February 25, 2013


Nazi art itself was devoted to maximum kitsch, so an apologist could claim that this style is essential to whatever irony is supposed to be afoot in these neo-fascist ceramics.

But there's a smallness, a domestic sense to the ceramics - something that belongs in a middle class Grandma's home. That link has a Viking ship and references to Greek myth, things that I'd prefer not to reduce to kitsch yet.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:24 PM on February 25, 2013


Looks like Walter White Power to me.
posted by erskelyne at 9:28 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that art historians consider that monumentalized, blood-and-soil, faux-heroic Nazi art to be a type of kitsch. But, since the Internet has given me lots of chances to opine about things I don't really know much about, I could be wrong there.
posted by thelonius at 10:05 PM on February 25, 2013


I'm pretty sure that art historians consider that monumentalized, blood-and-soil, faux-heroic Nazi art to be a type of kitsch. But, since the Internet has given me lots of chances to opine about things I don't really know much about, I could be wrong there.

You're probably right. I"m just so steeped in geek culture and my own personal neurosis that while I know, intellectually, it's cheesy part of me still responds pretty strongly to that whole aesthetic. And before you pat yourself on the back and think you're any different, tell me what you thought of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, which were based on much of the same sources.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:08 PM on February 25, 2013


All those happy, productive, rural hobbits do seem like they'd make a good painting in that exhibit, come to think of it.
posted by thelonius at 10:11 PM on February 25, 2013


But do art historians make a distinction between 'heroic' kitsch - the grand, blood and thunder, gods and monsters techniques that Nazis used but fantasy and sci-fi also use - and 'domestic' kitsch, which is that small porcelain plates look? Part of the paradox of the ceramic gun is that I'm used to seeing guns festishized and held up as these heroic or demonic images, not something cozy and cute. Even older guns like Winchester revolvers have something heroic and potent around them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, but it seems like a valid distinction to me too.
posted by thelonius at 10:22 PM on February 25, 2013


Washington irony.

I hate Washington irony.
posted by mazola at 10:37 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


And do you know who else was a Nazi and an artist?

Hitler was rejected by art school, I believe. But he painted.

And then there is heroic realism. I only know what I learned from Daniel pinkwater's Young Adult Novel however.
posted by chapps at 12:40 AM on February 26, 2013


When you only paddle in the shallows, irony feels deep and complex. But one day you dive in, and leave the irony behind, an oily slick on the surface. This guy has plunged into darkness.
posted by jet_manifesto at 5:49 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congress is on the case.
Hearing: Anti-Semitism: A Growing Threat to All Faiths Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations (Committee on Foreign Affairs)
posted by rough ashlar at 4:04 PM on February 26, 2013


Rough Ashlar, what connection are you trying to draw? I don't think their meeting has anything whatsoever to do with this artists and his ceramics.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:36 PM on February 26, 2013


Charles Krafft and the Conundrum of Nazi Art
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on March 24, 2013


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