What is one to make of all this hoopla concerning provenance research in Germany? It took an ill-managed investigation into the activities of an octogenarian art collector, Cornelius Gurlitt, followed by a raucous international outcry to stimulate a debate over how museums in Germany treat their collections and the extent of knowledge they possess about the origins of the objects they own and curate.
|Monika Gruetters to the left of Chancellor Angela Merkl|
Since the announcement in early 2014 by Monika Gruetters, German Minister for culture, that she would increase funding for provenance research into the origins of art works in German state collections, the post-Gurlitt “process” has become even more bogged down in bureaucratic molasses as if the creation of yet another organization will magically make the problem of looted art simply go away.
The new entity, German Lost Art Foundation (Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste), will move to Magdeburg, Germany, in April 2015. Magdeburg is where one can find the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg, run by Michael Franz and his deputy, Andrea Baresel-Brand. It is the official German governmental database on art looted during the Third Reich, known as lostart.de. One can find in that database the items which make up the residual of the Gurlitt collection, euphemistically known as the “Schwabing Art Trove.” The Foundation will receive 6 million dollars a year to bolster provenance research, or triple the annual allocation to provenance research in Germany up to now.
Judging by Ms. Gruetters’ own statements regarding the creation of the German Lost Art Foundation, the Office of Provenance Research (Arbeitsstelle fuer provenienzforschung), run by Uwe Hartmann, and the “Degenerate Art” program at the Free University of Berlin directed by Meike Hoffmann, will remain independent and might benefit from the largesse of the new Foundation.
Professor Uwe Schneede heads up the honorary board of the Foundation and Dr. Hermann Simon chairs its Research Council. Prof. Schneede is a highly respected figure in the German art world and Dr. Simon, head of the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin, a leading scholar of Jewish life in Germany and especially the Berlin Jewish community.
|The Foundation's Stiftungsrat|
For a full reading of the articles establishing the Foundation, please click on the following link: