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Exhibitions lift veil on Nazi-era art hoarding

AFP
Published : Nov 2, 2017, 6:48 am IST
Updated : Nov 2, 2017, 6:49 am IST

Hildebrand Gurlitt, worked as an art dealer for the Nazis starting in 1938.

The first exhibition of Cornelius Gurlitt’s collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, on Wednesday. (Photo: AFP)
 The first exhibition of Cornelius Gurlitt’s collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, on Wednesday. (Photo: AFP)

Bern, Switzerland: Portions of the spectacular art collection hoarded by the son of a Nazi-era dealer will be shown for the first time since World War II in parallel exhibitions in Switzerland and Germany starting Thursday.

“Gurlitt: Status Report”, which displays around 450 works by masters including Monet, Cezanne, Renoir and Picasso, aims to shed a light on the systematic looting of Jewish collections under Adolf Hitler.

The works in the two exhibitions, which run in Bern and the German city of Bonn until March, are just a small fraction of the more than 1,500 pieces discovered in 2012 in the possession of Cornelius Gurlitt.

His father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, worked as an art dealer for the Nazis starting in 1938.

The discovery of the stash made headlines around the world and revived an emotional debate about how thoroughly postwar Germany had dealt with art plundered by the Nazi regime.

“At last it is out of hiding,” the German weekly Die Zeit said about the collection, noting that “for the first time it will be possible to view what many have spoken and written about in the past few years, without being able to see it so far.”

The show, split between the two museums, is the result of years of disputed research into Gurlitt’s collection, which was discovered in the course of a tax probe.

Inspectors found the works in Gurlitt’s Salzburg home and his cluttered Munich apartment, many in poor condition, unframed and mouldy.

“With these two exhibitions, we wish to pay homage to the people who became victims of the National Socialist art theft, as well as the artists who were defamed and persecuted by the regime as ‘degenerate’,” Rein Wolfs and Nina Zimmer, directors of the Kunsthalle Bonn and the Kunstmuseum Bern, respectively, said in a statement.

Gurlitt, who died in 2014 at the age of 81, was described in the press as a recluse who lived off of the sale of his collection, valued in the millions of euros.

Tags: cornelius gurlitt, exhibitions, world war ii