Fic­tion

Fugi­tive Colors

  • Review
By – May 13, 2013

Fugi­tive Col­ors is a his­tor­i­cal nov­el inspired by what the Nazis called Entartete Kun­st, or degen­er­ate art, the term they used to describe art they had deemed to be not a true reflec­tion of the cul­tur­al her­itage of Ger­many. In the ear­ly half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, art and lit­er­a­ture were sub­ject to new ideas, inter­pre­ta­tions, and expres­sion in the uses of shape, form, col­or, and words. Ger­man Expres­sion­ism was con­sid­ered to be on the cut­ting edge of the move­ment, using new tech­niques of col­or appli­ca­tion not seen before. None of this new art fit into the Nazi ide­al of racial­ly pure art.

As the Nazis con­tin­ued their rise to pow­er in the ear­ly 1930s, artists and col­lec­tors began to feel the pres­sure exert­ed by the gov­ern­ment to aban­don what they con­sid­ered to be an abom­i­na­tion of the true Ger­man spir­it. Mod­ern art was banned and con­fis­cat­ed, usu­al­ly unlaw­ful­ly , and sold, with the pro­ceeds used to fund the Nazi war machine. Jew­ish artists and art col­lec­tors were a par­tic­u­lar tar­get of the Nazi régime. All of this was done under the com­mand of Joseph Goebbels, head of the Nazi pro­pa­gan­da machine. The cul­mi­na­tion of this attack on art was in Munich in 1937, when the Entartete Kun­st was staged to exhib­it the degen­er­ate art.”

Lisa Barr has writ­ten a fast-paced sto­ry of three young artists in Paris — Rene, Felix, and Julian — who embrace the Avant Garde move­ment and lust for a life of art and free­dom from the con­straints of the tra­di­tion­al mas­ters. Rene and Julian, both Jews, are friends with Felix, a Berlin­er, who will even­tu­al­ly betray them and their art. The sto­ry takes us from Paris to Berlin and back to Paris dur­ing a time of polit­i­cal upheaval and gath­er­ing war storms. The friend­ship and con­flicts between the three young men will lead to tragedy and heart­break. There are a few too many plot twists in the nov­el, which strain the cred­i­bil­i­ty of this melo­dra­mat­ic sto­ry. But, it does attempt to cap­ture the events of this shame­ful peri­od in his­to­ry and tell the tale through the lives of artists who suf­fered not only for their art, but also for the peo­ple they loved.

Relat­ed Content

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions