There are two ways Nazism put its hands on art: attempting to destroy every trace of the so-called “Degenerate Art” and implementing a systematic looting of classic and modern artworks.
In 1937 the Nazi regime held two exhibitions in Munich: one to stigmatize the “Degenerate Art” and one, personally curated by Hitler, to glorify the “Classic Art”.
This film is an amazing journey through 5 exhibitions displaying an incredible number of masterpieces by Botticelli, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Chagall, Renoir, Gauguin, just to name a few. Linked to each exhibition there are several impressive human and artistic narratives:
“Degenerate Art” and “Great German Art Exhibition”, Munich, July 1937
Edgar Feuchtwanger was just a child when his father was sent to Dachau and his family library was confiscated by the Nazis. His relatives, the Bernheimer family, very famous art merchants, was able to escape from Dachau bartering freedom with artworks.
“21 rue La Boétie”, Paris, March 2017
Anne Sinclair, director of the Huffington Post, tells the story of her grandfather, Paul Rosenberg. He was a French Jew, a friend of Picasso, Braque and Matisse, and an extraordinary art collector, who in 1910, opened a gallery at 21 rue La Boétie, where he collected works of ‘degenerate art’. In 1942 he was deprived of his French nationality and part of his collection was stolen by the Nazis.
“Gurlitt Collection”, Kunstmuseum, Bern, November 2017
This story brings us to 22nd September 2010. A train speeding down the track. On board an elderly German gentleman who turned out to be Cornelius Gurlitt. His father, Hildebrand, was the famous ‘Hitler’s Merchant’. Cornelius was hiding some of the most priceless art treasures of the century, among them “Portrait of a Lady” by Matisse, the painting belonging to Paul Rosenberg and paintings belonging to other protagonists of our story.
“Looted Art – Before, During and After WWII”, Deveneter, Bergkerk cathedral, May, 2017