Ample cases of restitution for artworks looted in Nazi Germany have been making headlines for weeks, but one of the most major cases was announced yesterday. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation will return a painting by German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, titled “Artillerymen” (1915), to the living heirs of German Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.
The Guggenheim Foundation carried out two years of extensive research to uncover the history of the painting, cooperating with the Holocaust Claims Processing Office of New York State’s Department of Financial Services and the Flechtheim heirs’ lawyers.
A press release issued by the Guggenheim on October 4 explains:
[A]fter Flechtheim fled Germany in 1933, moving to Switzerland, Paris and finally London, Artillerymen was in the custody of his niece Rosi Hulisch (Dr. Hulton’s aunt), who remained in Nazi Germany until her death by suicide in 1942 on the eve of her deportation to a concentration camp. In 1938, the painting was acquired in Germany by Kurt Feldhäusser, a member of the Nazi party. By that time, Flechtheim’s sole designated heir, nephew Henry Alfred Hulton, was living as a refugee in London. Research also confirms that both before and after Flechtheim’s death the Nazis singled him out as a target of particularly virulent anti-Semitic propaganda.
Feldhäusser was killed in Germany in 1945 and his art collection was left to his mother, who consigned it to the Weyhe Gallery in New York in 1949. Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May of St. Louis, Missouri purchased Artillerymen in 1952 and donated it to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York in 1956. In 1988, the painting was transferred by MoMA to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in exchange for other works. The Guggenheim relied on Donald E. Gordon’s catalogue raisonné of the work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1968), which incorrectly stated that before Artillerymen had entered Feldhäusser’s collection, the painting had been owned by German collector Hermann Lange. New research shows that the painting was owned at that time by Flechtheim and not Lange.
“An essential part of the work of the Guggenheim Foundation is the ongoing investigation into the history and provenance of our collection, and we regard this responsibility with the greatest seriousness. After an extensive examination of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this work and in keeping with the 1998 Washington Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and the guidelines of the American Association of Museum Directors, we are satisfied that it will be restituted to the Hultons,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said in the release.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.