Agreed! My feeling is that anti-Semitic, anti-modernist art critics felt they could not blame the artists themselves for horrible paintings. Nor could they find fault with the stout art professionals who were directors of the important art galleries. So they had to find someone else who might have sneakily pushed second-rate, miserable, modern art on an unsuspecting Christian public – the Jewish art dealers! I will present some European and American examples of racism before coming back to the Australian book, Addled Art.
In Stills and Narration from 'Der ewige Jude' (The Eternal Jew) 1940, the narrator said “These days we find it hard to believe such pieces (of art) were once purchased by almost every state and city gallery; they had to be, because Jewish art dealers and Jewish artists extolled them as the only true modern works of art”.
The Visual Arts in Germany 1890-1937 by Shearer West quoted from the Degenerate Art Exhibition catalogue of 1937. Abstract art was labelled “sheer insanity” and the excess of all the isms was attributed to the machinations of Jewish art dealers like Flechtheim.
Stephanie Barron editor of Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany was a great source. She wrote that in 1933 the earliest exhibitions of degenerate art were organised to show the German people the products of the “cultural collapse” of Germany that would be purged from the Third Reich. Confiscated works were assembled into Chambers of Art Horror whose organisers decried the huge public moneys that had been wasted on these modern horrors. It implied that many of the works had been foisted on the museums by a cabal of Jewish art dealers.
In Modern Art, Peter Watson reported Jews have been particularly pre-eminent in the economic exploitation of art and the formation of its commercial value since the rise of "modern art" in the 1880s. In that era, the centre of the art world was Paris. "There were two groups of important art dealers in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century; one was made up of Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler, Paul Guillaume, Felix Feneon, and Leonce and Paul Rosenberg, dealers in contemporary works. The other was an equally tight-knit but smaller group of dealers who formed the elite secondary markets dealing with Old Masters and increasingly in the Impressionists. At the centre of this group were Nathan Wildenstein, Rene Gimpel and Jacques Seligmann. Loosely attached to them were three other dealers in London and New York, Samson Wertheimer and Roland Knoedler, later run by Charles Henschel until after World War II." "Paul Rosenberg's strait-forward approach and steep prices shocked Parisian art circles and made him the subject of savage criticism." He even once said, "As for me, a painting is beautiful when it sells." Among those in Rosenberg's art stable was Picasso, formerly signed to David-Henry Kahnweiler & Rosenberg's brother Leon. All these people were Jewish. (p219-20)
Peter Watson had even more viciousness to say about art dealers. “Many Jewish art dealers grew to be extraordinarily successful. In 1909 Jacques Seligman "astounded Paris by acquiring the Palais de Sagan, an even more luxurious house. Seligman was the main art supplier for the French Rothschilds as well as JD Morgan; he was also known for his contacts in Russia". "Possibly the most successful, and certainly the most secretive art dealer was Nathan Wildenstein." "Another reason for Wildenstein's success was his close association with Duveen and Gimpel, which made each others businesses truly international." [p220-4]. "Notoriously dishonest, Joseph Duveen was another prominent Jewish art dealer in the early decades of the 1900s. Upon his move from Europe to New York City, Duveen was charged in a legal "case that attracted enormous publicity" with evading customs duties of $102 million at today's values. Connections with several United States Senators and other men of influence helped Duveen evade the law. [p166]
Lionel Lindsay didn't quite have all those details, but he did allude many times to the illegal or immoral way that dealers got their modern art. Re the decline of France, Lindsay said "the writing was on the wall when the Jew Stavisky was discovered to have bribed more than half the members of the Chamber of Deputies" [page ix].
And "how proverbially shrewd was the confraternity of Jewish dealers, who added the pleasure of “taking down the Goysher” for immensely over priced works of ultimate questionable value to forcing the painters of their race on the credulous Christian" [p19].
“The public was completely bewildered. Artists raged, protested, watched the spread of the epidemic sponsored by the Jew. Some abandoned their able practice to enter the arena of novelty and compete with the impostors” [p25].
“I saw at the 1926 Venice International the largest pavilion devoted to Italian Futurism. It was literally the most gigantic joke ever executed in paint. When 4 years later I returned to Venice, Futurism, unchanged and exhibition nothing fresh, was confined to a small room and soon afterwards disappeared. It was not so lucky as the Ecole de Paris. It had no Jew dealers to ensure its continuance” [p26].
“Except in Australia, the most intellectually back-ward country of European origin in the world, modern art is already moribund. The Jew dealers are dispersed and the novelty makers have no new dishes to tickle the palates of fin de siecle decadents” [p34].
“Already, in spite of strong protests by the best French artists, a large infantile canvas by the douanier Rousseau has been forced by the Jewish Blum government on the authorities of the Louvre” [p41].
Does it matter that Lionel Lindsay held these racist views or that he published them? I suppose not, but Lindsay was a trustee in Australia’s second most important state gallery (NSW). Trustees had enormous power over the Gallery’s acquisitions, de-accessions, permanent displays, special exhibitions and publications. Lindsay successfully prevented the 1939 Modern Art Exhibition from being shown in his state gallery; cut off normal advertising revenues and blocked almost all the paintings from being sold to Australian collections.