After reading Frederic Spotts’s “Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics” as a Yeshiva University undergraduate, I conducted an experiment. I approached passersby on Amsterdam Avenue and showed them Hitler’s paintings, covering up the information below each work. My classmates praised the “Impressionistic” palette and the “realism” of the landscapes. When I exposed the artist credits, they were horrified. Nothing had changed about the quality of the art, but the idea of praising anything about such an evil man was understandably anathema.
Some critics see a similar problem in the works of Seattle-based artist Charles Krafft. From guns and swords fashioned in the imitation-porcelain Delftware style (Krafft’s calls his take “Disasterware”) to his swastika-laden “forgiveness perfume and soap,” Krafft has a proclivity for unhappy subject matter. Until now, the work was understood as ironic critique. But given recent revelations about Krafft’s personal views, it seems that it might not be tongue-in-cheek.
Writing in The Stranger on February 13, Jen Graves explored Krafft’s personal convictions about Jews and the Holocaust. In a podcast (about 24 minutes into the clip) on a white nationalist website, Krafft stated that “the Holocaust is a myth” which is “being used to promote multiculturalism and globalism.” In an email to Graves he wrote, “I don’t doubt that Hitler’s regime killed a lot of Jews in WWII, but I don’t believe they were ever frog marched into homicidal gas chambers and dispatched. I think between 700,000–1.2 million Jews died of disease, starvation, overwork, reprisals for partisan attacks, allied bombing, and natural causes during the war.”