Art: The Hinterside of Life

One day in 1944, a ragged column of Nazi conscripts marching toward Poland was suddenly startled when a middle-aged recruit dropped out of line, turned around, and started marching homeward at the same tempo. A sergeant barked at him to stop, but Painter Werner Gilles replied mildly and matter-of-factly, "That blackbird up in that tree just told me, 'No, no, Gilles, this can come to no good.' " In time, Adolf Hitler's army psychiatrists sent Gilles back to the safety of civilian life, but for the painter the talking blackbird had been as...

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