I really enjoyed reading excerpts from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Goll’s “The Negroes Are Conquering Europe” because they presented an interesting perspective on art: one in terms of race. The connection between art and race was something I haven’t really given much thought to, but it’s definitely there. Art is a sign of development. Anyone that finds themselves in a position where they can think creatively means their basic needs, namely food, water, and shelter, are taken care of, not just for the present, but for at least a while. This points to the general prosperity of that civilization. Throughout history, as civilizations developed and started producing art, people began to take great pride in that. And this common pride was a unifying force. Art makes up a huge part of culture, and culture plays a big role in forming a national identity.
Hitler saw artistic ability and creativity as a sign of superiority. One of his main arguments regarding the supposed inferiority of Jews was that they made no “original contribution” to architecture and music, the two “goddesses of all arts.” Just from these excerpts I could see how deeply rooted his hatred and fear of other races and cultures were. What’s scary is how he viewed artistic ability as something inherent and deeply connected to race. When you view something as inherent and unchangeable, you take things at face value and don’t take the time to think about them analytically. He only thought people of pure Aryan descent capable of producing good art, claiming that “everything we admire on earth” was made by them.
Goll also views race and art as intertwined, and in his piece he particularly capitalizes on the differences between people of African and European descent. Each, he notes, have different ways of expressing their creativity, deeming African art more “genuine.” He was indeed much less racist than Hitler, and it’s clear he was a devoted appreciator of art, so he approached the relationship between race and art differently. He looked at the art itself and commented on the quality and aspects of it, which come from cultural and racial differences.
They both, however, don’t deny the importance that race plays in the manifestation of art. People of the same race have shared experiences and share in the same culture, both of which influence the way in which they express themselves. Race and art then play off each other, as art becomes deeply embedded in culture, which strengthens the unity between people.