Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect Is White Supremacist Artist?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that the white supremacist behind the Holocaust shooting is an “artist” but I am, lest we forget Hitler was an artist too:

NBC News is reporting that the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is James W. Von Brunn, an 89-year-old man with ties to white supremacist groups.

From his bio on the website Holy Western Empire:

…He is now an artist and author and lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

[via HuffPost]

I googled Von Brunn and found a profile on AskArt along with this image:


While there’s no way to verify it is by the same man, the age of the artist (born 1920, according to the AskArt profile) certainly places this in the realm of possibility (NBC News reported the shooter was 89 years old). I’ve archived the AskArt profile screenshot here in case it is taken down.

I perused the site’s message board and read this poignant assessment by Susan Vaughn of how his being an artist may factor into this:

Soul of an Artist?
Your act today cements the fact that creativity does not have anything to do with the soul.

How true. But then again, another commenter (Wonketter) wanted to dismiss his work as “Nazi Wacko Art? kitschy, I guess.” I don’t really think it’s kitsch and I believe it’s dangerous to dismiss right wing art as dominanted by kitsch tendencies since Italian fascist architecture for all it’s flaws still had some amazing contributions to modernism.

Von Brunn’s work doesn’t look all that different from some of the art I saw this weekend at the Bushwick Open Studios. No, I’m not inferring that Bushwick is plagued with right wing extremists (though NY Mag seems to think it’s full of anarchists) but that evil is banal (to quote Hannah Arendt) and the art it produces can be very middlebrow. Sadly, the art world is awash with middlebrow art.

More info on Von Brunn via Jeffrey Feldman’s always excellent Frameshop blog.

4 responses to “Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect Is White Supremacist Artist?”

  1. The painting you posted looks like kitsch to me. It seems like revenge of the kitsch, trying to impose a kitsch order over non representational art.

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