Status Report Gurlitt is the title of two exhibitions shown concurrently at Bundeskunsthalle and the Kunstmuseum Bern. They are the first to present a selection of works from the estate of Cornelius Gurlitt to a wider audience. The two exhibitions examine different aspects of the story behind the Gurlitt cache. In Bern, the focus is on the Nazi campaign against ‘degenerate’ art. The presentation in Bonn, on the other hand, sheds light on the criminal machinations of Nazi cultural politics and the problematic role of the art trade during that period.
The Gurlitt cache was amassed by Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt’s father, a passionate champion of Modernism in the early years of his career who went on to become one of the leading art dealers in Nazi Germany.
Parallel to Hildebrand Gurlitt’s ambiguous biography, the exhibition looks at the lives of some of his contemporaries, focusing in particular on the fate of Jewish artists, collectors and art dealers who fell victim to the Nazi regime.
Despite painstaking research, it remains unclear how most of the approximately 214 works shown here came to be in Hildebrand Gurlitt’s possession. The detailed provenances that accompany the works summarise the current state of research.
This goes hand in hand with a political and moral obligation to deal with the history of nazi-confiscated cultural property in a transparent way. In doing so, there can be no statute of limitations.