It was 1907 when an 18-year-old boy named Adolf Hitler tried to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
The young man had prepared intensively for more than a year to pass the admission exam in which he would compete with more than 100 applicants.
The young man passed the written test and went on to the next instance: the drawing test, where he had to present a series of previously made works.
The result was insufficient. That young man failed the test. We know, it was Adolf Hitler …
Without losing hope, the young Hitler tried to enroll in Architecture, but the results were even worse, he did not even meet the minimum requirements to enter.
A year later, in 1908, Hitler tried again to enter the Academy of Fine Arts but this time he did not even pass the written exam. Despite the refusals, totally determined to succeed as an artist, he settled as a painter in 1910 making small-scale works, which were copies of postcards, prints and natural figures, such as those we can see at the end of these words.
Hitler, from painter to genocidal
Most of his works were made with pencil, pastels, ink and watercolors. The aspiring painter partnered with Reinhold Hanisch who would be responsible for selling the works whose main buyers were small Jewish merchants.
In 1913 Hitler moved to Munich and for that he sold each of his paintings. The average price of them was 100 marks, while the cost of living at that time of the future Führer was 80 marks, which allowed him to go to the opera and the theater, artistic activities that he loved and encouraged at all times.
Despite his attempts to become a renowned painter, in Vienna he was a «nobody’s gift» and in Munich: an outcast. The rejection received from the Academy of Fine Arts eventually convinced him that he would never be a great artist.
In 1914 Hitler became a soldier being decorated several times. In the trenches he wrote poems, demonstrating that he possessed an artistic personality. We can establish a certain parallelism with the thought of the Futurist Movement, which in its first manifesto affirmed that they glorified war, which was the only cure in the world.
Perhaps it was precisely because of this shared thought that the Marinetti-driven movement would become the official culture of Fascism. The participation in the war awoke in Adolf Hitler a growing interest in politics and would go from being a frustrated and unknown painter to a speaker, public agitator and the horrible history that would affect all Humanity would begin to take shape.
Artistic production of the future Führer
His artistic training was very precarious, he had received some sculpture classes in Vienna from an unknown sculptor.
The most recurring theme of his works were landscapes, which he copied from postcards, cards or other paintings. His works were not authentic creations and finishing each of them took about 3 days.
This is why when talking about Adolf Hitler as an artist, the following question inevitably arises, is it possible to consider a copyist, without any originality as an artist?
Well, there are those who believe so, because at least there were technical skills to reproduce the originals. Others believe that a mere copy cannot be considered as a work of art…
There were those who considered him a great cartoonist and painter with potential, such as the Scottish scenographer and collector Edgard Gordon Craig, who found in Hitler a true artist and has to his credit more than 100 drawings and watercolors of Hitler.
Hitler and the Vanguards
Dominated by an aesthetic of the nineteenth century, he hated the avant-garde of the time, remember only the persecution and condemnation of what he considered «degenerating art.»
With the excuse of building an Art Museum in Linz, his hometown, he organized a hunt for works of art that were part of important private collections, mainly Jewish, which led to the loss of invaluable part of art history . If we ask ourselves, what would have happened if Hitler had been accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts? The answer is not simple, what is clear is that the story would have been different.
Perhaps in this way Adolf Hitler could have channeled his hatred, his racist phobias, frustrations and emotional imbalances in painting and Humanity would have been saved from the millions of deaths caused by that contemporary genocide to which the frustrated Vienna painter led us.
That’s how Hitler painted