The building was inaugurated as the House of German Art with a huge display of Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung ("Great German art exhibition"). This was intended to be an antidote to what Hitler had called, entartete kunst (Decadant Art). which is to say, anything abstract or modern. One imagines Hitler as being the kind of chap who would say, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like". The German state owned art galleries were cleared of any art that could be categorised thus and this was brought to Munich for display and eventual disposal.
The pieces were put on display along with mocking slogans and the price paid by the previous government shown. The Weimar Republic is now famous for the rampant financial inflation of the time. Yet, the time of this first German democratic government had been one of huge creativity. This included not just the classic arts of painting and sculpture, but also films, architecture and interior design.
Amongst those deemed decadent were Bauhaus, the group of cutting edge building and interior designers. Bauhaus were designing furniture in the 1920s that still looks modern today.
Cubism, Surrealism and Impressionism were also deemed decadent art. The work of lesser known artists was burnt with some ceremony. But the Nazi regime was not one to miss a chance to make money, and all the valuable pieces were sold abroad. The art veto extended to popular music, especially jazz because of its ethnic roots. They had many musicians and much music banned.
The famous jazz guitarist, Django Reinhart was extraordinarily lucky to survive the war. He was in Paris when the Nazi's conquered it. As a gypsy, and a jazz musician, he had two strikes against him. Many gypsies, but not Reinhart, ended their days in concentration camps.
After the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung, the Haus of Kunst was filled with much more conventional art. Portrait painters, recognising the way the wind was blowing, produced endless portraits of the Fuerher. Included this extraordinary Knight in shining armour.
Check this link for more examples.
The new, preferred art, was also to depict life in Germany and this one, is intended to depict a typical German rural family listening to the radio. It might have appeared in the American Saturday Evening Post.
By 1945, the Haus of Kunst had survived the bombing. The US Army turned part of it into an Officers Club. But, a few years later, the Haus of Kunst was back in business as an art gallery. Among the first exhibits were the previously shunned work of modern artists and Picasso's Gurnecia was on display.
Gurnecia depicts the Spanish town that was bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Spanish civil war. It is abstract but its meaning is clear enough.
Since the war years the patrons of the Haus de Kunst have, metaphorically speaking, continued to stick two fingers up at the Fuerher. The Haus de Kunst has no permanent displays, but provides a temporary home for travelling exhibitions from around the world - the most abstract, avant guard works, in the most way out style imaginable.
More on Hitler's art.