Provenance Research

From September 2019 until February 2022, the Graphic Arts Collection of the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz will conduct the project, co-funded by the German Federal Government, related to materials confiscated by the Nazis: Provenance Research on Drawings, Prints and Books with Original Prints in the Graphic Arts Collection of Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz for the acquisition period 1933-1945. The German Lost Art Foundation (Deutsche Zentrum Kulturgutverluste) in Magdeburg is promoting this research throughout Germany on behalf of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The basis for the centre’s work in this area are the Washington Principles, internationally adopted in 1998. In 1999 Germany committed itself to implementing this with the Joint Declaration of the German Federal Government, the German federal states and the leading municipal associations, in the spirit of its historical and moral commitment and towards locating and returning cultural assets confiscated in the course of Nazi persecution, especially those of Jewish ownership.

Project description

Friedrich Schreiber-Weigand, the first director of Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, was granted leave of absence by the National Socialists a few months after they seized power. He was dismissed in October 1933. Schreiber-Weigand’s successor aligned the institution to National-Socialist ideology, removed the art that had been ostracised as “degenerate”, acquired art that conformed to the system instead, and filled the gaps with art from the German Romantic period. This art was, in turn, purchased on the art market, above all from dealers and auction houses, among them, C. G. Boerner (Leipzig), Gustav Gerstenberger (Chemnitz), Curt Naubert (Leipzig) und Dr W. A. Luz (Berlin), which are now known through the findings of the research done on goods stolen by the Nazis.

The aim of the project is to systematically investigate the acquisitions between 1933 and 1945. The focus is on the drawings, prints, and books with original prints acquired during this period and which are in the holdings of the Graphic Arts Collection. During the course of the work, the results of research on artworks proven lost due to persecution or cases in which such cause of loss cannot be ruled out, are to be made accessible to the public. In the event of unlawful acquisition, the lawful owners or their legal successors will be sought and efforts made to achieve a fair and equitable solution in accordance with the Washington Principles.

Contacts

Dr Frédéric Bußmann (project head), frederic.bussmann@stadt-chemnitz.de