Between Definite
and Dubious

5/4–11/5/2017

Sculptures and Their
Histories

Acquired 1933–1945

The exhibition

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This spring, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung will take a look back at a chapter in its history that has rarely been a focus of attention to date: the Nazi period and the acquisitions made during those years. With the aid of twelve selected objects, the exhibition will offer insights into the history of the museum in the years 1933 to 1945 and tell the stories of the people intimately linked with the twelve works. Since 2001, the Städel Museum has been examining its collections with regard to artworks whose owners were deprived of them in connection with Nazi persecution. It was thus one of the first museums in Germany to embark on this task.

In the spring of 2015, its provenance research activities were expanded through the addition of a comprehensive project supported by the German Lost Art Foundation and the city of Frankfurt am Main: the systematic examination of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung holdings. The special exhibition will now present this initiative’s current research results by way of a tour through the sculpture collection’s three main departments – Antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance to Neoclassicism.

The exhibition will tell the eventful stories of collectors such as Harry Fuld, Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild or Carl von Weinberg, who maintained close ties to the Liebieghaus for many decades, but also of personages meanwhile all but forgotten, for example Oswald and Alice Feis. At the same time, it will look at the sometimes contradictory actions of the museum’s employees, particularly Liebieghaus director Alfred Wolters, during the National Socialist era.

A concentrated overview of the Liebieghaus history with a special focus on the period from 1933 to 1945 will serve as an introduction. The show will also address such issues as lawful and unlawful art acquisitions in Germany and abroad, personnel policy, the closure of the museum due to the war, the placement of its collection in external storage, war losses, and the restitution agreements of the post-war period. The twelve selected objects stand for various acquisition forms and the related courses of action. Within this context, the exhibition will also present its most recent, as-yet-unpublished provenance research findings to the public.

A research and exhibition project sponsored by German Lost Art Foundation and the city of Frankfurt am Main
Social media The Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung is communicating the exhibition in the social media with the hashtags #Provenienz und #Liebieghaus.

Provenance research at the Liebieghaus

Provenance research carried out at museums is concerned with identifying objects taken from their owners as a consequence of Nazi persecution. It thus assumes the moral responsibility to examine the holdings of public institutions with a view to Nazi stolen art as set forth in the Washington Principles resolved on 3 December 1998.

Since May 2015, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung has been systematically examining the origins of all objects in its holdings acquired after 1933. The aim is to determine whether there are works among them that entered the collection from Jewish ownership as a consequence of Nazi persecution. In the years 1933 to 1945, the Liebieghaus acquired altogether 471 objects. Today, 152 of them are still in the collection.

Digitorial

Take the digitorial before you come to our exhibitions ‒ as a well-informed visitor you’ll enjoy the show all the more! With the digitorial you can prepare for "Between definite and dubious" in advance with the aid of informative texts, entertaining audio tracks and lots of pictures ‒ at home, in a café, or on the way to the exhibition.

To the Digitorial

Made possible by Aventis Foundation

Gallery