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Saturday, 15 December 2018

The real ADOLF – „The Führer
danced in the nude for me“

Arno Breker exhibition of obscene ADOLF sculptures at the “Haus der Kunst”

What the photographer Bert Stern did with his last nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Arno Breker may also have achieved with his sculptures of ADOLF in the nude: he laid bare and demystified one of the greatest pop stars of the 20th century, but simultaneously invested him with eternal glamour and abiding mystique.

“Yesterday, Hitler danced for me in the nude,” Breker wrote in his memoirs. “He gave me his all. His all!!!” What had happened? Hitler was then at the height of his international career: Poland had been overwhelmed, the Eiffel Tower was in German hands, and the renovation of Berlin was in full swing. The Führer was paying one of his regular visits to the studio of his favourite artist, Arno Breker. They were jointly planning a monumental sculpture of the Führer in ferroconcrete. Taller than the Eiffel Tower, it was intended to straddle the Autobahn approach road to Berlin. It never came to that, however, because this ambitious venture on the part of two artistic kindred spirits was thwarted by the course of world history.

The capricious despot was in high spirits that afternoon. He roamed around Breker’s studio, joking with the sculptor and praising his work. The simple reason for what happened next was the Führer’s rigid abstinence. A vegetarian and health nut who couldn’t tolerate alcohol, he came across a bottle of absinthe – then a favourite vice in artistic circles - while Breker was out of the room. Mistaking it for woodruff lemonade, he promptly drank the lot.

“This woodruff lemonade tastes komisch,” he is reported to have said, burping, when Breker returned, only to turn into a completely different person before the sculptor’s eyes.

“Catch me – I’m the woodruff fairy!”, cried the suddenly disinhibited despot, tearing off his clothes and dancing across the studio with wild abandon.

“He put a jazz record on,” Breker recounted later. “A type of music he actually couldn’t stand and regarded as degenerate negro art.” Then he struck various obscene poses and curtly gave Breker the following command: “Paint me, you cunt!”

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Although simultaneously shocked and amused, Breker needed no second bidding: he swiftly sketched the naked dictator.

“Adolf had a natural talent for posing, as I knew from his speeches,” Breker recalled, “but it surprised me that he should act like a professional nude model. The Führer was quite unembarrassed and showed off his naked body in an extremely graceful and self-assured manner. He even gave his poses some jocular titles: they included Invading Poland, Party at YMCA, and Lonesome in Vienna. We had great fun. I had never seen Adolf so relaxed.”

Having eventually collapsed from exhaustion, the dictator slept off his binge on the studio couch and was unable to remember a thing the next day. Breker told him he’d suffered an allergic reaction to the woodruff lemonade, and that settled the matter. He later made some bronzes from his sketches in secret and salted them away for many decades.

“I spent a long time debating whether to exhibit them in public,” Breker once said. “But then I realized that they belonged to us all – and could also make a mint of money. They show the real Adolf, the open-minded Bohemian and sunny-natured artist he could have become if that hidebound Viennese Academy of Art hadn’t turned him down. We would have been spared a great deal.”

Arno & Adolf — Arno Breker’s “Adolf in the Nude” sculpture cycle can be seen at the “Haus der Kunst”

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