The Hidden Meaning Behind Hitler's Paintings

Adolf Hitler is remembered for many things. Perhaps his second greatest claim to fame is the way that, nowadays, you can pretty easily figure out if you're going to hate someone based on whether or not they toss a "but" after the words "Hitler was a monster."

As for the third most famous thing about him, the infamous Nazi Führer and dumb, dumb mustache enthusiast was, as many people know already, big into painting. He actually applied for art school in Vienna, but was denied admission twice, according to History, thanks to his unsatisfactory submissions. There's a lesson in there, for finicky college admissions boards.

Not wanting to be an Adolf Quitler, the future mass murderer continued to pursue a painting career, even finding some limited success selling his work to tourists, despite lackluster responses from critics. Today, it's almost impossible to get an objective read on his level of talent — it's hard enough to separate the art from the artist under normal circumstances, let alone when said artist tried to slaughter entire populations. Maybe that's why, in 2002, a man named Frederick Spotts presented a critic with some of Hitler's work, without telling him who had authored it. The results were weirdly on the nose.

Das Joy of Painting

The experiment was conducted as research for Spotts' 2004 book, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. An anonymous critic was asked what they thought of Adolf Hitler's work, with the whole "this was painted by a genocidal maniac" detail left out. Fascinatingly, the critic reportedly observed that the unnamed artist "displayed disinterest in the human race," according to History Daily.

Now, there are a couple of ways to read that. Maybe the critic in question was doing what sommeliers have been paying their rent with for decades: the subtle cold read, assigning vague values to stuff so that people will think you're deep. Or maybe Hitler actually displayed signs of sociopathy in his watercolors. Who's to say?

In any case, the critic also said that Hitler's paintings were "quite good," which is the sort of thing they should open their Tinder profile with, but probably don't. There's just no accounting for taste.