© Sture Johannesson. #1
1«…Swedish Translation by J.P. Stewart
The National Public Art Council Sweden
The Swedish Artists’ National Organization
(KRO, Konstnärernas Riksorganisation),
and The Swedish Arts Council
(Statens Kulturråd) were instituted by the Minister of Ecclesiastics,
Arthur Engberg, in 1937 based on the Reichskulturkammer
(Reich Chamber of Culture)
of Nazi Germany. The German model was subdivided into Reichskammer der bildenden künste, Reichs-filmkammer, Reichsmusikkammer,
Reichspressekammer, Reichsrundfunkkammer, Reichsschriftumskammer and
Reichstheaterkammer. Membership in the Reichs-kulturkammer was compulsory and
persons who were denied membership found themselves unable to continue working inside Germany.
An enthusiastic description is provided by the well-known fascist ideologue Per Engdahl (1909-1994),
leader of the so-called “Neo-Swedish Movement”, in his autobiography Fribytare i
folkhemmet (“Freebooter in the People’s Home”, Cavefors, Lund 1979), where he
recounts a meeting with Minister
“I met with Arthur Engberg shortly after he had made these views public.
Deepening the culture into an attitude to life embraced by all the people — this was an
old Neo-Swedish wish, and thus I was almost poignantly in harmony with the Social
Democrat minister of Culture. During our conversation we also touched on recent
developments on the continent. Engberg said that he understood our Neo-Swedish
endeavors. ‘I can only wish’, he said, ‘that the Social Democratic party would evolve from
a class party to a party of the Homeland, of the whole Reich.’ This comment is among
the words that have etched themselves into my consciousness. The fundamentals, the
vital elements of both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism ought to be able to
be absorbed and reshape a free society.”
Arthur Engberg, the minister of Ecclesiastics, was a great admirer of the
Third Reich and with his flair for eclecticism he also propagated its ideas. (Eclecticism; in
philosophy, the selection of elements from different systems of thought, without regard
to possible contradictions between the systems.) As Editor-in-Chief of the daily Arbetet,
he wrote anti-Semitic editorials already in the twenties, advocated “race hygienics”
and the establishment of the World’s first Race-Biological Institute, which now can be read on the Internet, e.g. at
The Swedish welfare State system, the “People’s Home” grew from the same roots as Italian Fascism,
with aspects of pure Nazi ideals. Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson (1885-1946) had been a party fellow with
Benito Mussolini (1883-1845) in the ‘second International’ and they continued their “exchange of ideas” even after
going their “separate ways”.
‘Entartete Kunst’ and ‘inferior art’
In an article entitled “Good Art a Tool in Building the People’s Home” (“God konst ett verktyg i folkhemsbygget”)
by Anna Orrghen (SvD 3/15/2003) about the thesis Power and Taste in Art. Social and Political Conflicts on the Swedish
Art Market 1920-1960
by PhD Martin Gustavsson, Stockholm University, Ms. Orrghen writes of “the prohibition against the import of inferior art
that was established in 1937 and not repealed until 1953. The prohibition was based on collaboration between the State
and agents from the field of Art who collectively wanted to counteract bad taste.”
(Read also Martin Gustavsson:
The Market in the State and the State in the Market and about the project:
The Art of Success In Art. Social Origin, Gender, Education and Career 1945-2007).
The timing of the legislation enacted by the Swedish government against “inferior art” was in complete lockstep with
the concept of ‘Entartete Kunst’ which was introduced at an exhibition in Nazi Germany in the summer of 1937, inaugurated
by the head of State, Adolf Hitler. It is significant that the law here in Sweden remained in force long after the fall
of Nazism, as was the case with eugenics and coerced sterilizations, due to the fact that there never was any reckoning
with the Nazi collaborators and their ideas. The cooperation “between the State and agents from the field of Art” —
consultants or hostages, if you prefer — was also a basic concept in the Reichskulturkammer and with its president
1933-1945, Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. The aim was to push out dissidents and critics of the system by
employing the “politically correct” as “agents from the field of Art” in control of public acquisitions, grants and
stipends, etc. Like other ruling powers, the gentlemen of the Third Reich had a problem with free artists; John Heartfield,
George Grosz, Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz and other anti-fascist artists disturbed the image of a unified culture and
commonality of the people. They could raise the consciousness about what was happening; perhaps create resistance movements
The concept of ‘Entartete Kunst’ which is usually associated with Nazi Germany is far more relevant to the Swedish State
Art Control. The law was in function in Sweden twice as long as in Nazi Germany. It is a tradition that has been well-maintained by the certified political commissars
of the authorities.
Corporativism and Fascism
In its Member Register for 1977, KRO (The Swedish Artists’ National Organization)
gives its own history of how it was founded:
“In order to reasonably rapidly gather a significant membership in the new organization, it was decided to create a list
of names of all the artists who might be eligible as members of KRO, and in the month of May 1937 invitations went out to
443 artists in various locations inside and outside of Sweden. In a missive from minister Engberg, KRO was requested to
forthwith submit at least two sculptors and two painters who were suitable candidates to become members of The Swedish
National Art Council. KRO’s proposals were drawn up on June 21, 1937. We had thus in a short time frame succeeded in
creating an organization that could function as a body of electors (Swedish: ‘valkorporation’) for the newly established
National Public Art Council.”
Corporativism, the fundamental ideology of Fascism, means “a political view that advocates a form of government where
the roles of the State are taken over by corporations, i.e. civic assemblies representing trades and professional groups.
Mainly in Fascist countries, Italy (under Mussolini), Spain (under Franco)”.
Wollen Sie das Totalen Kunst?
Since the founding of The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs, The National Public Art Council Sweden, and KRO in 1937, the base organizations have been
expanded in the spirit of Arthur Engberg to form a conglomerate of institutions for total regulation and control of the
means of existence of the artist. In the State-run bonus system, it is the peddlers, mainly in Stockholm, who become
rewarded State artists. Today, KRO is aggressively pushing its demands and privileges of appointing so-called consultants,
and vigorously defends its role as subcontractor for the outsourced functions of employment office, administrator of grants
and awarder of public arts commissions, with “agents” in all the governmental Arts institutions; the National Art Council,
Arts Grants Committee,
The Visual Arts Fund, IASPIS, BUS,
academies, boards, government sponsored organizations like The Public Art Society of Sweden (Sveriges Allmänna Konstförening),
“reference groups”, etc. Just like previous corporativist systems this has led to massive corruption and loss of direction.
Jan Myrdal is right when he identifies corporativism in the cultural sector as the greatest and most immediate threat to
freedom of expression and artistic quality in Sweden.
It is this governmental Art Control that I sum up with the designation “The Swedish State Art Control Stations”.
Just like the infamous Swedish race biology, “The Swedish State Institute for Race-Biology”, it is one of the instruments
of power to control and correct reproduction as well as “inferior” expressions in thoughts, ideas and values. For decades,
using compulsory sterilization of individuals deviating from the Arian norm, Sweden conducted a genetic purification of the
national “stock”; here racial theories were developed that became a prototype for the Nazi Holocaust. The World’s first
institute for racial biology was enthusiastically applauded in the propaganda of the Third Reich: “Wir stehen nicht allein!”
(We do not stand alone!).
In the same vein, the Swedish Art Control, with a State mandated responsibility for the “politically correct” ideological
production, with power to mutilate and suffocate, incinerate and eradicate society’s dissidents in the controlling Swedish
To this day, the structure of the Swedish State Art Control Stations, the Reichs-Culture-Camaraderie, is in complete agreement
with the prototype of the Reichskulturkammer, where it also has its basis. The successors of Joseph Goebbels naturally
wear suits of a more modern cut, but their function is the same: to keep Art clean. Clean from views and expressions that
have not been imposed or sanctioned by the ruling Party, a task that is diligently administered by reliable minions with
a sense of responsibility for the ideological production. Equipped with a handful of money from the coffers of the Swedish
government, these cultural bureaucrats buy their way into the international art world and appear there in their disguises
as “international curators” in order to market the “Swedish model”. At home, the bloated tame cattle of the Department of
Culture and the Arts Grants Committee sit safe and warm in their manure-heated sty — “the artist representatives”, who in exchange
for generous benefits have made themselves available as hostages, legitimizing the intentions of the authorities. Around
them, the licking and sucking fatted calves gather, the arbitrarily chosen ones who will be canonized and become the future
holy cows of the Art province. But not everybody is to be included — some will be sent straight to the slaughter.
Those who lack a solid pedigree or are seen as social deviants — those who are neither pure of breed nor pure of faith.
The goal was a total eradication of deviants. Then as now, in Sweden…
“It is the fattest dancers who make a career in the union.”
Birgit Cullberg, choreographer (1908-1999)
ReShape!? The Snake changes skin — not Nature!