Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

The German Lost Art Foundation releases the second volume of its publication series “Provenire”

New book on the Gurlitt Art Trove

Date 2020.05.04

The case changed the art world: When the dis­cov­ery of rough­ly 1,500 works of art owned by the son of art deal­er Hilde­brand Gurlitt was re­port­ed in Novem­ber 2013, the al­leged “Nazi trove” made head­lines around the world. Af­ter com­ple­tion of the sys­tem­at­ic study, the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion has now re­leased a sci­en­tif­ic pub­li­ca­tion on the “Gurlitt Art Trove” as part of its “Provenire” se­ries. The an­thol­o­gy, to ap­pear on 5 May, re­flects the lat­est re­search. It al­so il­lu­mi­nates pre­vi­ous­ly less­er-known as­pects of the spec­tac­u­lar case, which has sig­nif­i­cant­ly height­ened pub­lic aware­ness of the di­men­sions of Nazi art theft and was a vi­tal stim­u­lus for the ex­pan­sion of prove­nance re­search in Ger­many.

The Min­is­ter of State for Cul­ture and the Me­dia, Moni­ka Grüt­ters, sup­port­ed the re­lease of the pub­li­ca­tion with funds from the fed­er­al cul­tur­al bud­get. Ms Grüt­ters stat­ed: “With ev­ery art­work we iden­ti­fy as hav­ing been mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed due to Nazi per­se­cu­tion and for which we find a just and fair so­lu­tion with the orig­i­nal own­ers or their de­scen­dants, we can make a small con­tri­bu­tion to his­toric jus­tice. We owe it to those peo­ple who were robbed of their prop­er­ty and their rights by the Nazi regime. From the be­gin­ning, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment thus rec­og­nized and sup­port­ed the sys­tem­at­ic study of the Gurlitt Art Trove as part of Ger­many’s his­toric re­spon­si­bil­i­ty in deal­ing with the lega­cy of Nazi art theft. The vol­ume pub­lished by the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion con­tains a re­mark­able wealth of in­sights in­to the Gurlitt Art Trove gained through the fed­er­al­ly fund­ed re­search of the Task Force and cor­re­spond­ing fol­low-on projects. These in­sights are in­valu­able even be­yond the ‘Gurlitt case’, as they help clar­i­fy prove­nances and strength­en the over­all knowl­edge base of prove­nance re­search on Nazi art theft. This pub­li­ca­tion by no means marks the end of our ef­forts to deal with the lega­cy of Nazi art theft. Quite the op­po­site: it is a start­ing point from which to pur­sue the truth with even more re­searchers who are equipped with even bet­ter sci­en­tif­ic tools than be­fore.”

Hilde­brand Gurlitt played an im­por­tant role as buy­er for Hitler’s planned “Führermu­se­um” (Führer’s mu­se­um) in Linz, as a deal­er for mu­se­ums and not least in the dis­pos­al of what is known as “de­gen­er­ate art”. Con­tri­bu­tions in the vol­ume ad­dress, among oth­er top­ics, Gurlitt’s com­pre­hen­sive ac­tiv­i­ty in the French and Dutch art mar­kets and his net­work dur­ing the post-war era. Apart from in­sights about the struc­tures and stake­hold­ers of Nazi art trade, the book de­lib­er­ate­ly re­veals gaps and flaws in the re­search and sug­gests ap­proach­es to fur­ther work.

Gilbert Lupfer, Aca­dem­ic Di­rec­tor of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion and co-ed­i­tor of the vol­ume, com­ment­ed: “To­day, more than six years af­ter the world learned about the ‘Schwabing Art Trove’, we know a lot more than we did be­fore, for in­stance about the move­ments of art in oc­cu­pied France or in the Nether­lands. It is very for­tu­nate that many re­searchers who had al­ready been in­stru­men­tal in shed­ding light on the ‘Art Trove’ were will­ing to make their large­ly un­pub­lished re­search find­ings avail­able for this vol­ume.”

“Kun­st­fund Gurlitt. Wege der Forschung“ (Gurlitt Art Trove. Re­search path­ways), edit­ed by An­drea Bare­sel-Brand, Na­dine Bahrmann and Gilbert Lupfer, is the sec­ond vol­ume in the pub­li­ca­tion se­ries “Provenire” re­leased by De Gruyter (188 pages, 39.95 eu­ros).

In its pub­li­ca­tion se­ries “Provenire”, the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion pub­lish­es sci­en­tif­ic pa­pers from the field of prove­nance re­search.

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg was es­tab­lished in 2015 by Fed­er­a­tion, the Län­der and the na­tion­al as­so­ci­a­tions of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. It is the cen­tral point of con­tact, na­tion­al­ly and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly, for all mat­ters per­tain­ing to cul­tur­al prop­er­ty which was un­law­ful­ly seized. The Foun­da­tion’s pri­ma­ry fo­cus is on cul­tur­al prop­er­ty tak­en from its own­ers as the re­sult of Nazi per­se­cu­tion, es­pe­cial­ly Jew­ish prop­er­ty. The Foun­da­tion sees its work as an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to­wards com­pen­sat­ing vic­tims for the in­jus­tice they have suf­fered.

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