Log in

I forgot my password

Latest topics
Our latest tweets
Free Webmaster ToolsSubmit Express

7 DECADES ON, ISRAEL STILL SEEKS RESOLUTIONS FOR 'HOLOCAUST ART'

View previous topic View next topic Go down

7 DECADES ON, ISRAEL STILL SEEKS RESOLUTIONS FOR 'HOLOCAUST ART'

Post by Mazy on Sat Jan 24 2015, 01:07

7 DECADES ON, ISRAEL STILL SEEKS RESOLUTIONS FOR 'HOLOCAUST ART'
Daniel Estrin January 10, 2015
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, with Egon Schiele's 1915 work, Krumau Town Crescent I. It's one of about 1,000 works of Nazi-confiscated art the museum has received. The museum has no record of who owned the painting before it was taken by the Nazis. In some 40 cases, the museum has returned artworks when heirs were found. ( Daniel Estrin for NPR)

Before and during World War II, the Nazis seized up to 600,000 works of art from all across Europe. This has created a long-running drama that is still playing out from movie studios in Hollywood to museums in Israel.
If you saw last year's movie The Monuments Men, starring George Clooney, then you know the story line. Toward the end of the war, American and Allied forces sent teams on a treasure hunt through Europe.
Their mission was to find those stolen art works the Nazis had stashed away, and return them to their original owners. But many of those owners had been killed in the Holocaust, and a lot of art was just never claimed.

Ultimately, a couple thousand artworks were distributed to Jewish institutions around the world, with many going to Israel, including the country's leading museums.

Now, advocates for Holocaust victims say more needs to be done to get the art back to the families that once owned it.

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, director James Snyder shows me a 1915 oil painting – a sort of mosaic of rooftops – by Austrian artist Egon Schiele. It's a well-known work by a famous artist, one of about a thousand pieces of Holocaust-era art the museum received.

"The fact that no one has ever surfaced with record of its prior ownership sadly suggests that no one from the family that may have owned it before the war survived the war," Snyder says.

Today, many museums around the world are going over their collections to see if they have art that was confiscated by the Nazis. Snyder says the Israel Museum has returned about 40 works to heirs.

But art experts say it's likely that museums in Israel have many looted paintings on their walls and they don't even know it. These are likely works that museums bought in good faith, or received as gifts, and they simply aren't aware of the history, or have no way of tracing it or haven't done enough research to find out.

An Renewed Search
Stuart Eizenstat, special adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry on Holocaust issues, addressed a conference on art restitution in Israel this past summer. He said Israel hasn't done enough.

"It's ironic because Israel is the state of the Jewish people. It's ironic because Israel has the greatest number of Holocaust survivors in the world. It's ironic because Israel should be a leader as a Jewish state on Holocaust-related issues," said Eizenstat.
The Israeli organization Hashava was formed by the government to locate Holocaust victims' assets in Israel, though it only started looking into art in 2013.

"I believe Israel always had the sense that being the state of the Jewish people, things should belong here if they are heirless," says Elinor Kroitoru of Hashava.

Her organization has caused a bit of a stink on this issue, publicly accusing Israeli museums of not doing enough detective work to weed out suspect art.
 
Kroitoru has singled out one major museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She says it has a big collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art – the kind European Jewish collectors owned before the war. She thinks that statistically, it's likely the museum has looted art on its walls without even realizing it.

"The Tel Aviv museum claims they have done research internally but nothing has been published yet," she says. "We are waiting for the museum to come forward and show us and the public what they have done. They are a responsible museum. I know they are a serious museum, and I hope they will publish and work transparently."
Ruth Feldman, who recently recently retired as a curator at the museum, says the museum takes the matter seriously. "We did a lot of work in that field. There is not always the time to do it ... But things are done at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art," Feldman said.

Raising Money For Research
The Hashava organization is working to get money to fund provenance research at the Tel Aviv Museum. And this past summer, Israeli curators attended the first workshop of its kind in Israel, on how to do that research.
But even if a museum can find an heir and return a piece of art, that's not always the end of the story. In some cases, Kroirotu says, the heirs turn around and sell the piece to private collectors.

"Then we are in a very unusual situation, where art that was looted from a Jew in Europe before the war, ends up in the beautiful palace of a very rich person in Dubai. And one of the questions is, 'Is that what we want to happen to looted art?'" she asks.
In other cases, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has returned art to heirs and they have allowed the art to stay where it is, on loan, or sold it back to the museum.

That way, the heirs don't need to fuss with security cameras and climate controlled rooms for their precious painting — and the public in Israel gets to appreciate a great work of art and a piece of Holocaust history.

Transcript
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now a story about a controversy born out of the Holocaust that lingers more than six decades later. The Nazis seized up to 600,000 works of art. Much of it still hasn't been returned to the rightful heirs. Some of it has ended up in Israel. Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem that some advocates for Holocaust victims say that more needs to be done to get the art back to the families that owned it.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: If you saw "The Monuments Men," the George Clooney movie, you know the story. Toward the end of World War II, American and allied forces sent teams on a treasure hunt through Europe to look for art stolen by the Nazis and to return it to its owners. But many of those owners had been killed in the Holocaust and a lot of art was never claimed, so a couple thousand artworks were distributed to Jewish institutions around the world. A lot of them were sent to Israel.
JAMES SNYDER: We're standing in front of a work by Egon Schiele from 1915.

ESTRIN: James Snyder directs the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He says this oil painting - a sort of mosaic of rooftops - is one of about a thousand looted works the museum received.

SNYDER: The fact that no one has ever surfaced with a record of its prior ownership sadly suggests that no one from the family that may have owned it before the war survived the war.

ESTRIN: So nothing written on the back of the painting?
SNYDER: Nothing to identify it in any way.

ESTRIN: Today, many museums around the world are scouring their collections for Nazi-confiscated art. Snyder says the Israel Museum has returned about 40 works to heirs. But art experts say it's likely that Israeli museums have more looted paintings hanging on their walls and they don't even know it - works that museums bought in good faith or got as gifts. Stuart Eizenstat, special advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry on Holocaust issues, addressed a conference on art restitution in Israel this summer. He said Israel has been slow to act.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
STUART EIZENSTAT: It's ironic because Israel is the state of the Jewish people. It's ironic because Israel has the greatest number of Holocaust survivors in the world. It's ironic because Israel should be a leader as a Jewish state on Holocaust-related issues.

ESTRIN: The Israeli organization Hashava that the government formed to locate Holocaust victims' assets in Israel - it only started looking into art in 2013. Elinor Kroitoru works at the organization.
ELINOR KROITORU: I believe Israel always had the sense that being the state of the Jewish people, things should belong here if they are heirless.

ESTRIN: Her organization has caused a bit of a stink on this issue. It's publicly accused Israeli museums of not doing enough detective work to weed out suspect art. Kroitoru has singled out on major museum - The Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She says it has a big collection of impressionist and postimpressionist art, the kind European Jewish collectors owned before the war. She thinks statistically it's likely the museum has looted art on its walls without even realizing it.

KROITORU: The Tel Aviv Museum claims that they have done research internally, but nothing has been published yet. We are waiting for the museum to come forward and show us and show the public what they have done. And I hope that they'll publish and work transparently.

ESTRIN: Ruth Feldman is a recently retired curator from the Museum. She says the Museum takes this issue very seriously.
RUTH FELDMAN: We did a lot of work in that field. We did. There's not always the time to do it and the manpower to do it. But things are done at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

ESTRIN: Kroitoru says Israeli museums are moving forward. This summer, curators attended the first workshop in Israel on how to do this provenance research. And the Hashava organization is working with a Tel Aviv Museum to get funding for the research. But even when the rightful family is found, that's not always the end of the story. In some cases, Kroitoru says, heirs turn around and sell their art to private collectors.

KROITORU: And then it's - we are in a very unusual situation where art that was looted from a Jew in Europe before the war ends up in the beautiful palace of a very rich person in Dubai. And one of the questions is that really what we want to happen to looted art?

ESTRIN: Here's one arrangement. When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has returned art to heirs, some heirs have just kept their art hanging at the Museum on loan or by selling it back. That way, they don't need to fuss with security cameras and climate-controlled storage for their precious painting and the public of Israel gets to appreciate a great work of art and a piece of Holocaust history. For NPR News I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Mazy
Achieving total Clooney-dom

Posts : 2883
Join date : 2012-11-03

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum