A Culture Without A Face

Cultures can be defined not only by the attitudes and beliefs they express but also by what they produce artistically. You get the idea when, visiting a museum, you see artwork categorized not just by date or art movement but also by cultural provenance and lineage. But isn’t that also true of artwork displayed in the home? In churches? In government buildings? Our cultural identity is interwoven with and chronicled by these artistic representations; they depict our heritage over the centuries. Without them, our identities might be like vague moiré patterns, broken and blurred.

Hitler knew this as well as anyone. During the rise of the Third Reich and the Second World War, the Nazis confiscated over a fifth of all the artwork in Europe. It was a cultural conquest to match the military conquests of Hitler’s stormtroopers. The massive heist became the focal point of Lynn H. Nicholas’ decorated book, The Rape of Europa. The book chronicles the theft of Europe’s greatest works of art, the trials of their slow recovery over the next half-a-century, and the most unlikely villains, Western art dealers who ended up with the stolen loot in their possession. Nicholas’ tome won a heap of awards, and now it’s been turned into a full-length documentary (already on many critics’ Oscar shortlist). Find the face of the hidden war when The Rape of Europa screens Tuesday at the Lake Worth Playhouse (713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth). Tickets range from $6 to 8. Call 561-586-6410, or visit www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.
Sat., Jan. 12, 2008

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John Linn