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Famous Seattle Ceramicist Exposed as Holocaust Denier

By Bill Morlin on March 6, 2013 - 3:47 pm, Posted in Holocaust Denial

For decades, iconoclastic Seattle artist Charles Krafft has made references to Nazis in his highly acclaimed, sometimes shocking pieces of art that most critics and art lovers brand as simple, ironic satire pushing the boundaries.

He crafted a ceramic Hitler-bust teapot now in a San Francisco art museum, and put swastikas on other pieces of art, even on a ceramic wedding cake. He made a ceramic Uzi assault rifle, hand grenades and an “assassin’s kit” – a gun and dagger.

Now, the 65-year-old hippie-turned-artist is at the center of a growing controversy following a published report detailing evidence — including his own words — that suggests he is a white nationalist who believes the Holocaust is a myth.

Hundreds of comments about Krafft are being posted on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere, and the art and culture world — particularly in ceramic art circles — are abuzz over the revelations published in The Stranger, a Seattle alternative paper. The headline on that piece was hard to misunderstand:  “Charles Krafft Is a White Nationalist Who Believes the Holocaust Is a Deliberately Exaggerated Myth.”

Beyond E-mail correspondence with Krafft, writer Jen Graves reported that she had found Krafft’s comments on a white nationalist website where he makes repeated anti-Semitic remarks. “I believe the Holocaust is a myth,” Krafft says on a podcast published last July.  The article goes on to say that Krafft believes the Holocaust is “being used to promote multiculturalism and globalism.”

Krafft, sounding as if he, too, is surprised by the backlash, didn’t back away from any of that when contacted by Hatewatch.

“Since I’ve admitted to being a Holocaust skeptic and identifying as a WASP on a White Nationalist website, I really can’t claim I was smeared,” Krafft said. “However,” he continued, “I would like to point out that I never tried to dupe liberal art collectors and curators with satire and irony in my art while laughing at them. I came by my controversial opinions on race and WWII history relatively recently.”

In one white nationalist podcast, Krafft says Christianity is being replaced “by this new secular religion of the sacrifice of 6 million Jews. And the museums, memorials, monuments, study centers, Holocaust chairs at the universities — it’s all part of the promotion of a new kind of, like I said, civil religion maybe. … We’re the heretics in a new religion that’s being promoted and built up and being embraced by governments throughout the United States and Europe.”

The Stranger’s piece on Krafft — reposted repeatedly on the Web — has hit particularly hard in the art world.

“When this broke loose, it all did come as a big surprise,” nationally known ceramic art dealer, historian and author Garth Clark, of Santa Fe, N.M., told Hatewatch. Clark has sold Krafft’s art works and spoken with the artist numerous times, but never represented him.

“This was an artist who, in the ceramic world at least, was very well liked and respected,” Clark said. While Krafft’s work always has “had a very dark side to it,” Clark said that the art world had “assumed the dark side was ironic. In fact, everybody made that assumption.” After all, he said, people in the art world are “prepared to deal with pretty raw ideas.”

Michael Upchurch, the art critic for the Seattle Times, said the revelation about Krafft came as a surprise to him and others in the city’s art community. “He’s definitely big time here in the art community, that’s for sure,” the writer said. “I’ve always thought his work was humorous,” the product of a clever artist who tackles horrific subject matters with a fine porcelain medium, he said.

Krafft always has been at the leading edge of provocative art. Clark recalled a series of ceramic art works the Seattle artist did a decade ago, claiming to use human cremains for pieces he called “Spone,” a satirical poke at the 18th-century English ceramics artist Josiah Spode, who used crushed animal bones to produce “bone china.” “Most of us thought that was kind of radical, and deeply, darkly amusing,” Clark recalled.

Using Hitler’s bust to make a ceramic teapot or referring to the Holocaust in art is one thing, Clark said, but actually embracing and promoting white supremacist and Holocaust-denying views is “ridiculous.” Now, some suggest that Krafft’s teapot was a clever way to keep the Nazi leader’s image alive and on public view.

With these new revelations and Krafft’s own words and postings on his Facebook page, Clark said there “doesn’t seem to be much doubt that he is, indeed, a white supremacist and a Holocaust denier. “Being provocative in a way that’s intellectually valid is one thing, but it’s another if the artist is actually being bigoted.”

As the criticism grew this week, Krafft posted a new Facebook photo of a piece of metal sculpture he calls “Fowlschwitz,” a concentration camp for birds – a birdhouse surrounded by barbed wire.

He didn’t talk about that, but he did tell Hatewatch that he believes the Seattle newspaper article wrongly suggested that he was concealing the intent of his art for years and urged collectors and museums to re-examine his work “for subversive content” and then censor or cut off access to the pieces.

“Very, very little of the art I’ve made has had any Nazi symbolism in it,” Krafft claimed. “I’d like to point out to those I speak with about articles accusing me of being a Nazi in sheep’s clothing how dishonest I think this is.

“I would also point out there are differences between Holocaust denial, Holocaust skepticism and Holocaust revisionism, White supremacy and White Nationalism that have been overlooked, or blurred for shock value, and [that blurring has been used] to paint me in the worst light possible,” he told Hatewatch without elaborating on what he sees as the differences.

“My deep research, here and abroad, into 27-year harassment of Archbishop Viorel Trifa, the founder of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America, was instrumental in contributing to the formulation of my reactionary opinions,” he said.

Despite his attempts at explanation, criticism of Krafft is still boiling, with pointed anger directed at him showing up in some Facebook posts.

“I was devastated about the revelation that Krafft was a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite,” New York author and blogger Phil Campbell, formerly of Seattle, responded when reached for comment by Hatewatch.

Most of Krafft’s art, Campbell said, “relies on the idea that Krafft as an artist is treating the themes he manipulates — violence, Nazis, the Holocaust among them — with a deft, ironic sense of humor. If he’s sincere (in his personal beliefs), the work itself is corrupted, which is an irony in itself (albeit a twisted one).”

“Conceptual art can be a dicey issue, with so much left open for the audience in terms of the inference of meaning, but this is one of those very specific cases, I think, where the artist’s intent is absolutely crucial to the understanding of the objects made; the artistic intent changes the meaning of the art,” Campbell said. “If Krafft is indeed a Holocaust denier, as he appears to be, then it corrupts the art itself. I simply cannot look at any of his art in the same way again. Only Aryan Brotherhood members are going to want to buy his porcelain hand grenades now.

“I also think this also could be the case of a man well past his prime who is indulging some delusional tendencies that have been there for a very long time, but perhaps weren’t that strong in the beginning,” Campbell continued. “Krafft has always been an iconoclast, but now his iconoclasm is hardening, becoming a deadening ideology. The older he gets, the more his opinions seem to be calcifying, degrading.”

“Since the Stranger piece came out I know of several people who claim that Krafft has intimated all along that he harbors certain sympathies for these anti-Semitic opinions,” the art critic said. “Perhaps. But now Krafft is making his beliefs public, so now there should be no doubt.”

David Barclay Moore, a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker and photographer, also was among dozens who took to Twitter to comment on the Krafft controversy.  Contacted by Hatewatch, Moore said the revelation may devalue pieces of the artist’s work and make them less powerful.

Krafft’s’ work was ingrained with a sense of creative spirit — “elements of bitter histories into comic ironies,” Moore said.   “Now that at least some of his art appears to have originated from a much more literal place, their once perceived brilliance must rinse off in the wash, leaving behind an embarrassingly dull residue of thoughtless intolerance.”

In Washington, D.C., travel and art writer Melanie Renzulli, who once worked in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, also posted comments about the controversy.

“If Jen Graves’ theory is true, that Krafft may have used art as a means of smuggling in a nationalist-white power message, then I think that curators in those museums that own artworks by Krafft should consider shelving or archiving his work rather than taking advantage of the controversy,” Renzulli told Hatewatch.

Now, his pieces of work are “insensitive to survivors and their families,” she said, especially in light of a recent story in The New York Times detailing new research that shows there were 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe – far more than ever believed.

“Krafft’s art seems to exist to desensitize, to diffuse the power of some of the world’s controversial symbols,” Renzulli told Hatewatch. “In doing this, it seems that deniers and/or Nazi sympathizers can rally around a swastika in plain sight. Even if this is one big joke by Krafft, it’s not a very funny one.”

  • Spark

    Here is something anti-semitic Krafft wrote under his tag “whodareswing”

    Forced assimilation is “The Warburg-Kalergi Plan” named after Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, the godfather of the European Union. Go to Wikipedia and look him up. Scroll down to the section of his “Views on Race and Religion.” The West is slated to become a global plantation worked by Egyptian colored consumer slaves all watched over by Jews of loving grace.

  • http://www.hitlerschildren.com/article/787-holocaust-denial-understanding-holocaust-deniers Philip

    It is incredible how people can see the same thing and think 2 completely different things. Even when there really is only one way to look at it.

    horrible!

  • Mark Potok

    A note to our commenters:

    As a lot of you know, we’ve developed a problem with the antagonistic nature of the comment threads on Hatewatch. As a result, and after talking to some of you, we’ve decided to try and restore some civility and sense of community.

    From now on, we’re just not going to publish comments that include name-calling of any kind, no matter whose side of a particular issue you’re on. We’re not going to publish guttural expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, misogyny and so on. We will publish white nationalist arguments, but only if they’re presented civilly and calmly, like the fellow from Stormfront who recently made an effort to politely argue with other commenters here. We will not publish bogus claims about certain groups’ alleged inferiority, and we won’t publish links to racist sites or sites that contain misleading or false statistics. Finally, we plan to stop publishing comments from a few posters who have become a real problem on our threads.

    This is not an attempt to censor people’s thinking, but it is an effort to make Hatewatch more of a community of people discussing important issues. We don’t want it to degenerate yet another Internet shouting match.

    Thanks for your understanding. We appreciate your contributions to the blog very much.

    Mark Potok

  • Brock Henderson

    Oh my goodness, Reynardine (yes, by the way, the following will prove your assertion that I tend to scatter here and there amongst the topics I comment on, but this was just crying out for rebuttal), so THAT’s where the Indus Valley is! Seriously, I ask for an example of a superior NON-CAUCASOIDAL civilization from the past, and the only one you can give me is – gee-golly, wouldn’t you know it! – a CAUCASOIDAL civilization! You have totally failed! In the process, you have also indicated that your real beliefs about race are in reality no different from your average white supremacist. Sure, you’re doing a dutiful job TRYING to CONVINCE yourself that there’s no difference genetically between the races, but at the end of the day, it always fails, doesn’t it? Absolutely hilarious.

  • Reynardine

    Well, Erika, damn, I’m good!

  • Erika

    and isn’t it so funny how easy it was for rey to get little brockie to admit that he has a sister who is way more successful and accomplished than he is?

  • Erika

    brock, why don’t you make up your mind of exactly what you are trying to say and stick with one thing rather than jumping back and forth? Earlier you are saying that women can work outside of the house in your ideal male-female relationship now you say that women can only work inside of the house taking care of the housework and kids. You also list your feminine ideal as Phyllis Schafley who worked outside of the house.

    rey is right, you are like totally a weasel.who won’t give a straight answer to anything.

  • Erika

    and brock, i have no doubt that your sister is very embarassed of you :P

  • Erika

    brock, “allowing” a woman to work outside of the house but being total control of a man (and no doubt having her money go to the man for him to be able to control) sounds very suspiciously like the relationship between a prostitute and a pimp.

  • Brock Henderson

    Aron, read Erika’s mindless screed beginning with “rey, its quite possible that you are right.” Yes, “supporting a lazy husband” IS how she characterized the wives of traditional family men. However, I meant housework and taking care of the kids, not employment outside the home.

  • Aron

    Wow Brock. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Who ever said that women work outside the home just so they can support a lazy husband? Because it certainly wasn’t any of us!

  • Reynardine

    Well, Brock, to paraphrase Maxim Gorky, you won’t catch a mud viper by reaching into the air.

  • Gregory

    Brock,
    You are in no position to accuse anyone of losing touch with the real world.

  • Brock Henderson

    Uhh, yes, that’s true, Reynardine, except for the “get past it” part. I’m actually quite proud of her. You’re sinking pretty low, lady.

    Erika, you don’t believe me because your silly beliefs that you cling to blind you to the real world outside of your own ideological framework.

  • Reynardine

    Erika, his sister has done better than he has and he can’t get past it.

  • Erika

    brockie, i simply do not believe you.

  • Brock Henderson

    Erika, I’m going to San Jose State to study library technology – a grad program – after English at Sac State, because I ultimately want to become a librarian.

    A woman being allowed to work in order SUPPORT HER HUSBAND’S LAZY ASS . . . haha, umm, Erika, you are deranged and your eyes are obviously blind to the world of working- and middle-class families. Take a Midol, a few other meds, and try to type a comment that isn’t a juvenile diatribe.

  • Brock Henderson

    Erika, my dear, I believe I mentioned when I first started commenting here that two years of evangelical Christian preschooling are the sum total of non-public schooling I’ve ever experienced.

  • Erika

    apparently brock’s ideal male female relationship is based upon the interaction between parasites and hosts – and yes in his ideal world where the woman is “allowed” to work oustide of the house to support the family while the men no doubt would be able to play all day pretending to be Viking Warriors or Knights or internet tough guys or whatever – would most definitely be the parasites.

    Small wonder why no women are interested.

    And a word of advice brockie baby, considering that even intelligent English majors are basically unemployable you had better let your mail order bride work outside of the house because otherwise you will starve to death

  • Erika

    rey, its quite possible that you are right.

    brock, the fact that you term it as the man “allowing” the woman to work speaks volumes. i’m sure that the man will also allow the woman to do all of the cooking and housework and then force his wife to have sex when she is too tired after working all day to support his lazy ass and still having to do the housework.

  • Reynardine

    Erika: No. He’s nuts.

  • Erika

    rey, i still think its possible that he was just home schooled by white supremacist parents using the Politically Incorrect Guides as the text and there is still hope that he might learn that the books that he got his entire knowledge about history are not fit to line birdcages with. but he’s going to have to get over himself and get past his arrogance – but i suspect that is also a product of being homeschooled by white supremacist parents who told him that he was destined to rule and was superior to everyone else purely by virtue of being white (and of course not indoctrinated by those public schools).

  • Brock Henderson

    Erika, why should I trust YOU on the subject of what is respectable inside CONSERVATIVE circles? Chickens don’t take advice from foxes on how to build a safe and secure henhouse.

    Hmmm, you know what I just figured out? It IS possible for a household to be run by a father and husband who IS entrusted with all authority over the family, and also DOES allow the wife and mother to have a job outside the home.

    Ron Paul doesn’t call himself a libertarian anymore, so far as I know.

    The “wrongheaded” criticism does have an actual point to it, so I’ll check it out, but as for the next two . . . oh yeah, they DON’T. They simply restate my own opinions, and that of Gutzman, and emptily imply that said opinions are those of the Devil himself. Now let me guess, before I click on that link, who a person like you trusts as a reasonable and acceptable “conservative” – David Frum? David Brooks? Rush Limbaugh?

  • Erika

    brock, why would i find the views of a neo-Confederate who i never heard of whose views are mocked basically outside of the Mises Institute and the League of the South threatening. i simply find it hilarious that you are so foolish and stupid as to actually find him to be a reputable source.

  • Erika

    Brock you fool here above is where you said that you oppose women working outside of the home:

    “I am FOR the traditional Christian family structure, featuring nearly-absolute male authority, sex for procreation only, many children”

    If you somehow think that your above stated view allows for women working outside of the home you are even more foolish than i had thought.

  • Erika

    Brock, because i had never heard of Kevin Gutzman and had no idea who he was, i looked him on the internet to find out who he was – he lists himself as a “libertarian” and posts material on well known “libertarian” websites. He also backed self proclaimed “libertarian” Ron Paul for President. He also writes scholarly articles for a self described libertarian journal.

    Now if you want to argue that he is not really a libertarian (and there would be strong evidence including his opposition to the incorporation of the Bill of Rights to apply to the states and general opposition to individual liberty – real libertarians since they are strongly in favor of individual liberties are in favor of incorporation of the Bill of Rights since it favors individual liberty) you can. i’d even agree with you, because a real libertarian supports personal liberty and your guy doesn’t. But since he calls himself a libertarian i’ll let him.

    As far as whether he is a source you should take seriously, check out this harsh review of one of his books from a conservative group:

    http://www.claremont.org/publi.....detail.asp

    or just look at the key points (and remember this is coming from a right winger reviewing the book for a right wing group):

    “But alas, the first two-thirds of this book [covering the Constitutional convention through the Civil War] are wrongheaded, tendentious, and bizarre”

    “Readers can be excused for suspecting that he does not actually like the Constitution very much.”

    and the conclusion: “Gutzman is a neo-Confederate who resents the course our history has taken since the first day of the Philadelphia Convention.”

    So yes honey, your views are completely outside of the mainstream based upon a guy who even conservatives consider “wrongheaded,” “bizarre,” and a “neo-Confederate” as your sole source for everything about U.S. history and law.

  • Aron

    Well Brock, if you were responding to Gregory why didn’t you bloody say so, you dolt? And then you have the gall to chide us for your own poor writing.

    Tut tut, Brockie. Some you’re not an English major: you’re a Pidgen English major.

  • Reynardine

    Brock, goddamn it, get psychiatric attention.

    Erika, this guy is too scattered to be even a malignant narcissist. A grandiose paranoid schiz is nothing that can be dealt with in a forum like this one. I am asking the Hays Office to put a stop to this charade now. I’m serious.

  • Gregory

    Phyllis Schlafly and Kevin Gutzman

    That’s it? That constitutes your rebuttal?

    Well, why not? In the imaginary nation of Brockistan these people wield considerable influence. In the Real World that the rest of us live in, not so much.

  • Brock Henderson

    The mainstream, Erika? Haha, you sound like some insecure kid in middle school who watches MTV every evening to make sure she knows what’s cool, hip, and in, and what’s lame and out, or what the geeks do. What is the defining feature of this “mainstream,” Erika? Constantly twisting one’s self into intellectual pretzels to justify the legal existence of an overstretched and morally and financially bankrupt imperial regime? Thanks but no thanks, I’ll stay out of the mainstream.

    I don’t think Gutzman is a libertarian. And while I don’t know everything about libertarianism since I am not one, I don’t think they’re against all government to begin with. Sounds more like anarchism, which he definitely does not subscribe to. Anti-Federalist or Republican in the mold of Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson is a better description of Gutzman. I can see that you are desperate to create a strawman version of him to beat, and really wish to marginalize him because you feel threatened by his views.

    And I was answering Gregory’s question about women who simply agree with my views, not women who are tenured professors, Aron and Erika. Last but not least, Erika, please tell me where and when I said that women should always stay at home and never have jobs.

  • Erika

    question two for brock:

    who says that it is a sin for women to work outside of the home and to have minds of their own?

    once again the same hint – it isn’t God.