Looted Art: Kunsthalle zu Kiel Expands Original Project | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 05/28/2022 06:00 AM

Kunsthalle zu Kiel has been conducting a critical examination of the origin of its holdings since 2014. The question is whether the collection contains objects belonging to the so-called looted art.

by Anina Pomerinki

Since May 2018, the source of artwork from the Graphic Art Collection has been specifically scrutinized – this project has now been extended for another two years, project manager Annette Wisner stated in an interview.

Mrs. Wisner, how important is that Art gallery in Kiel Searching for the source?


Annette Wiesner is the Scientific Director of the Graphics Group at Kunsthalle zu Kiel.

Annette Weisner: We have already implemented a project on the topic of paintings, which has already been researched. And we’ve already checked part of the set of graphs. The project that we now want to start in early summer will form the end result. We anticipate a search time of about two years. Then we checked all of our possessions to see if we had any cultural origins here in the Kunsthalle that were related to persecution. This is a very important and central project for us.

Any of your holdings problematic or suspicious?

Wisner: The works are suspicious and one does not know where they are between 1933 and 1945. This is the alleged source gap. If we don’t know what happened to the business during this time, it’s an indication for us that we should take a closer look at it. There are also certain art stores that are known to trade in cultural assets associated with persecution. These are the “red flag names” – look closely. If you already know that something comes from a Jewish property, then you should pay maximum attention.

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Outside Kiel Kunsthalle © NDR Photo: Andreas Kluge

Kunsthalle zu Kiel is a cultural partner of NDR Kultur. Current exhibitions and activities can be found here. external

How can we imagine your business exactly?

Wisner: It is a multi-stage job. If you apply for funding to the German Lost Art Foundation, you first look at stock books and a list of possible works, which works could be contaminated and which ones are undoubtedly harmless. A preselection of works to be examined is put together. In this second project, we have 820 works – that’s a very large collection.

The next step is where the actual research work begins. Papers are brought from the warehouse and closely examined. Appearance is of particular interest: are there any collector’s notes or stamps, i.e. anything that could give clues as to where this paper was originally from? This is not easy with printouts, because there are several copies of one sheet. Next, you will go to the internal archive and search for specific documents. Is there specific correspondence or purchasing documents that provide more information? But you also take a step outside and look for example in the state archives in Schleswig, the city archives in Kiel or the university library in Kiel.

After that, we leave Schleswig-Holstein and look at other archives: for example in the Hamburger Kunsthalle or the archives of some art dealers that interest us. It goes so far that at some point you also visit the Federal Archives in Koblenz or the German Art Archives in Nuremberg. An Internet search of relevant databases is also important, including “Lost Art”, “Provina. Research Database Origin” or “Holocaust Survivors and Victims”. In our case, a total of 25 archive flights were planned.

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Katja Lempek © picture alliance / dpa Photo: Christophe Gatto

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What has been the most significant result of this work at Kunsthalle zu Kiel so far?

Wisner: It is not possible to talk about a single result. It is important for us to examine our entire group to see if there are any cultural properties associated with persecution. We would like to conclude by saying that we have investigated everything that might be relevant. A tangible result of the painting project was the return to Russia of the oil painting “Forest Bond” by Russian painter Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov. It was the looted art that was returned to the Taganrog Museum Park as the rightful owner.

What does Internal Collection Processing mean to you personally?

Wisner: I am the Scientific Director of the Graphics Group and this is a very important area for Group Directors to explore and learn about their own group. We have about 30,000 sheets of paper, which is not a small amount – so it’s a very cool project to deal extensively with certain items in the set. At the same time with the history of the house and the history of experiments – where does the artwork come from? It is very important to me personally, and also from a moral point of view, that if we plunder the art here, we find a good, just and just solution, as stated in the Washington Principles.

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Looted art is also part of the inventory of many museums in the North. Where do things come from? Where is the possession of the victims? more

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Culture NDR | 05/28/2022 | 8:15 am

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