Episode #1409

Nazi-Sympathizing Art & Isaac Newton's Eye

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Friday, March 01, 2013

A porcelain AK-47 by Charles Krafft A porcelain AK-47 by Charles Krafft (Courtesy of Far4)

The art world is reeling at the news that Charles Krafft, a sculptor noted (and respected) for making ironic Nazi kitsch, has come out as a Holocaust denier and white supremacist. Isaac Newton sticks a needle in his eye in a new play. Sandra Bernhard falls hard for Carol Channing, and we give you a new assignment in honor of spring: a bird song remix.

Provocative Artist Comes out as Holocaust Denier

What do you do when one of your favorite artists turns out to be a white supremacist and Holocaust denier? A story that broke last month in Seattle’s weekly, The Stranger, got a lot o...

Comments [67]

Listener Challenge: Remixing Spring

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has just finished digitizing its entire collection of 150,000 animal sounds — including its especially vast collection of bird songs. We want you to us...

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A Needle in Isaac Newton’s Eye

Most plays about historical events and figures take liberties with the facts — you probably couldn’t write a good play if you didn’t. Audiences, though, can be distracted by wondering...

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Aha Moment: Sandra Bernhard

Sandra Bernhard was only eight when she saw a touring production of Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing. “Right from the get-go," she remembers, "I assumed I should be a part of th...

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Live in-Studio: Richard Thompson

Guitarist Richard Thompson keeps good company. His name is regularly found alongside those of Hendrix, Clapton, and Jimmy Page on various "Best Guitarists of All Time" lists. But whil...

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Comments [3]

Martha Fishkin from New York, NY

I believe in the First Amendment. I participate in socially responsible investing; I would divest any ownership of artwork by this particular artist.

I believe that to compare a Holocaust denier to a distasteful personality is unwise.

"Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech 12/10/86

You have the right to choose. Invest wisely.

Mar. 07 2013 09:41 AM
NRW from Brooklyn

The discourse being generated by Kraft's comments is integral to his work, not to mention a huge boost for his renown. He is making us ask ourselves these questions, and so his work just gets bigger and bigger, entering into the lives of many people who have otherwise never heard of him. He is making us ask ourselves these questions, and so while his work is unchanged, we are changed in a new way by it. Whether he truly is an Anti-Semite, Holocaust denier doesn't really matter - what matters are the questions we're now asking ourselves in reaction to his statements, the way the masses will attack Kraft and vilify anyone who has ever praised his work, and the way Kraft is able to kick us all in our stomachs. William's question is dead-on: does the art change because of what we know about the artist? Do we change? Why is the artist's intended meaning so much more important than the meaning the public makes without an artist's statement? When the hell did we start caring so much about what an artist INTENDED??? Why aren't we simply, solely concerned with the meaning the work has for us? Kraft convinced us it was valuable when it was ironic, and now he's convincing us to feel shocked that we ever felt that way in the first place. The work is unchanged. We are changed in a new way by it. It's only a small group of sympathizers who would praise Kraft for his radical statements regarding the Holocaust, but it is a significantly larger public that will condemn each other in reaction to and for their reactions to Kraft's statements.

Mar. 03 2013 12:28 PM
William Helfand from New Jersey

Seems to me the question is if the artist is a bad person does that detract from his or her art? Because Roman Polansky is reputed to be a pedophile does that make his movies worthless? What about those massive operas of the anti-Semitic Wagner? Would you turn down a Frank Lloyd Wright house at a bargain price because he abandoned his wife and 6 kids to have an adulterious affair with Mamah Cheny? Fortunately the work of Charles Kraft just sucks so he doesn't raise this question. Even Hitler was a better artist or at least easier to look at.

Mar. 03 2013 07:31 AM

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