‘Piece of crap’ oil painting by Hitler on display in Italian exhibit

Ruth Ellen Gruber

ROME (JTA) – A “piece of crap” painting by Adolf Hitler is on display in a recently opened exhibition in northern Italy on the theme of madness.

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

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.” He added, “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.”

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

The exhibit, which runs until November 16, is housed at the State Museum in Salo’, a town on Lake Garda that was closely associated with Italy’s World War II fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. From 1943-45 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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