Collection / Provenance Research

Provenance Research // Since late 2011, the Kunsthalle has systematically researched the origin of the paintings, sculptures and graphic works in its collection.  The aim of the project, chiefly supported by the German Office for Provenance Research, is to trace the changes of ownership of all objects acquired before 1946.  This will enable the identification of art looted during the National Socialist period and restitution to former owners or their heirs.
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Prior to the start of the research project, detailed provenance research had only been undertaken for a few isolated cases.  In 2001, an examination of all acquistions between 1933 and 1945, looking for records involving suspicious gallerists and art dealers, did identify some works that were subsequently registered with the Lost Art database,  the co-ordinating body for documenting looted art in Germany, and partially restituted to the former owners. However, overall, very little changed.
 
In the first year of the current project, a survey of all affected works was undertaken and the individual objects were assigned to one of the following categories: 'not suspicious', 'needing clarification', and 'suspect'.  There were 3694 objects in the first category, 2253 were 'needing clarification', and 613 objects in the inventory were deemed 'suspect'.
 
In order to manage the project in its next two years, the focus was on paintings and sculpture only.
Files in the Kunsthalle archives and documents in other city institutions were systematically reviewed in an effort to identify the provenance of 82 'suspect' and 531 'needing clarification' works.  At the end of the second project year, through case-by-case analysis, the history of many of the objects has been clarified and rendered 'not suspicious'.
 
The project entered its third year on 1 June 2014 with the goal of checking and establishing the provenance of the remaining 205 'needing clarification' and 65 'suspect' works.
 
Contact:
Dr. Mathias Listl
Provenance Research
(0621) 293 6287
mathias.listl@mannheim.de

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