3-year project will tell stories of Jewish art collectors

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With the aim of telling human stories about certain cases of Jewish art restitution, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Bavarian State Painting Collections have teamed up for a new project.

According to the Managing Director of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, Bernhard Maaz told DW: “We have been doing provenance research for 20 years helping with restitutions or initiating them.” He added, however, that the emotional impact of their efforts has yet to be felt.

According to a report by DW, 1,500 works of art were found in properties belonging to the son of a Nazi art dealer in the 2012 Gurlitt case. Notably, very little information is available on the people who were behind these sketches, paintings and drawings.

In an effort to acquaint people with the intriguing stories related to these works of art and their Jewish owners, thirty stories will be told through films in a 3-year project.

In an effort to acquaint people with the intriguing stories related to these works of art and their Jewish owners, thirty stories will be told through films in a 3-year project. In the project, the owners of the work will be found thanks to collaborators and each story will end with the return of the work.

Very little is known about Jewish art collectors, but the paintings associated with them are still quite famous. “The Eye of the Law (Justitia)” by Carl Spitzweg, “Berlin Street Scene” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Gustav Klimt’s Golden Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer are among the stolen artworks that tell stories of murder, persecution and expropriation.

Efforts have been made to return the stolen artworks, as the Bavarian State Painting Collections of Bavaria have so far returned 25 works from 17 collections. Considering that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has returned more than 350 works of art and 2,000 books to their owners since 1999. In particular, Germany had pledged to examine and identify works of art looted by the Nazis under the Washington Principles on Nazi Confiscated Art. According to Bernhard Maaz, a provenance research is underway for the artwork, which involves historical research into how the objects were obtained. He insists on the fact that this research is often time-consuming because each work is a particular case.

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