‘Piece of crap’ Hitler painting featured in Italian exhibit on madness

(JTA) – A painting by Adolf Hitler described as a “piece of crap” is on display at an exhibition in Italy on the theme of madness.

Hitler’s signature is in the lower right corner of the small, untitled oil painting, which is on loan from a private German collector and has never been exhibited. The artwork shows two men – one seated man and one standing – at the front of a long, shadowy corridor.

The exhibit, titled “Museum of Madness: from Goya to Bacon,” runs through Nov. 16 at the State Museum in Salo, a town in northern Italy on Lake Garda that was closely associated with the World War II fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Hitler painting is one of more than 200 artworks, objects, installations, photographs and multimedia pieces in the exhibit,  which explores the links between art and mental illness, instability and madness. It is included in the section on “political madness.”

Speaking ahead of the exhibit’s opening earlier this month, politician and art historian Vittorio Sgarbi, who curated the show, described the painting artistically as a “piece of crap, the painting of a desperate man.”

Sgarbi added that “it could have been done by Kafka; it says a lot about his psyche. Here you don’t see grandeur, you see misery. It’s not the work of a dictator but that of a wretch.”

From 1943 to 1945, Salo was the headquarters of Mussolini’s Nazi-backed puppet state, the Italian Social Republic, or RSI, which capitulated after partisans captured and executed Mussolini and other RSI officials as they attempted to flee.


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