'Degenerate' art stolen by Nazis on show in Rostock

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15 Jun, 2008 Updated Sun 15 Jun 2008 11:06 CEST
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An art exhibition has opened in Rostock showing hundreds of works stolen by the Nazis and condemned as ‘‘degenerate’’, which have not been seen since the 1950s.

The works, by artists as celebrated as Paul Klee, Ernst Barlach, Lyonel Feininger and Ersnt Ludwig Kirchner are all included in the show, called, “Modern Masterworks - from the survivors of art confiscated by the National Socialists in 1937”.

It has been hailed as a sensation as it is the first time they have been displayed together since 1957, and due to the insight the collection gives into the mindset of those who wanted to ban ‘‘degenerate’’ art.

Thousands of ‘degenerate’ artworks were burned by the Nazis when they cleared the museums and galleries of art which did not fit with their philosophy.

But art historian Andreas Hüneke, who has analyzed a list of more than 20,000 works, said most of the burned art was by unknown artists. “One has to understand that the really big names were not burned with them,” he told Die Welt newspaper.

Bernhard Böhmer, a collector who worked with some of the most important art dealers of the Third Reich, spent years dealing with the ‘‘degenerate’’ art taken by the regime from museums. Those he could not sell, he kept – 1,000 of them.

After the war around 400 were returned to the museums they hailed from, but those which had come from West German museums, remained in Rostock.

The exhibition has sparked a debate about what to do with the rest. In the meantime they are finally available for people to see at the Kulturhistorisches Museum in Rostock – until September 7.



2008/06/15 11:06

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