Gurlitt Hoard to Make First-Time Appearance in Swiss and German Joint Exhibition

Another show in Berlin is being planned.

Kunstmuseum BernPhoto: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia
Kunstmuseum Bern
Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia

A Swiss and German museum will present a simultaneous exhibition featuring the controversial collection of the Nazi-era art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt at the end of the year.

The Kunstmuseum Bern and the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn announced in a joint statement that works by by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, and other modern masters will be “presented to the public in a historically and scientifically contextualized framework.”

The disputed 1,500 piece collection was discovered two years ago in the Munich apartment of the elderly and reclusive Gurlitt. He inherited works from his father Hildebrand Gurlitt, reports the Guardianwho was enlisted to build the Nazi’s art collection, much of which was looted from Jewish collectors who later perished in the Holocaust.

In 2014, Gurlitt bequeathed his artworks to the Kunstmuseum Bern, who accepted the collection. However, the museum left a third of the works with the 14-member task-force set up by the German government to conduct further provenance research.

Detail from Henri Matisse's Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair (1921). Photo: Lost Art Koordinierungsstelle

Detail from Henri Matisse’s Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair (1921).
Photo: Lost Art Koordinierungsstelle

Having concluded its research in December, the task-force identified only five works as Nazi-looted art, freeing the way for the remaining works to be shown to the public in a way that attempts to properly address the historical record.

“The exhibitions will also reflect on the fate of the persecuted collectors and their collections,” the museums said in a statement.

Max Liebermann, Two Riders on a Beach (1901). One of the paintings found in Cornelius Gurlitt's possession. Photo: Christof Stache, courtesy Agence France-Presse/Public Prosecutor's Office Augsburg.

Max Liebermann, Two Riders on a Beach (1901). One of the paintings found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s possession.
Photo: Christof Stache, courtesy Public Prosecutor’s Office Augsburg.

The museums added that they are investigating the possibility of showing the exhibition at additional institutions. For instance, a show at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau is already being planned.

Meanwhile, Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner has also laid claim to the collection, having contested the elderly man’s will and questioned her relative’s mental health during his final weeks. She lost the initial case, but her appeal is still pending.

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