Most often in restitution battles the disagreement boils down to whether a painting was looted, and/or whether it changed hands under circumstances that failed to pass clear title to the predecessor of its current possessor. Then, controversy frequently ensues about the extent to which the possessor resists restitution on grounds other than the title of the painting (jurisdiction, statute of limitations, etc.). Rarer is the type of dispute where the parties don’t even agree about what they’re disagreeing about, like the one brewing between Austria and Poland over a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder that hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559).
Topics: Musée des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Krakow, Nazi-looted art, Diana Blonska, Gauleiter, Otto Gustav von Wächter, Feliks Kopera, Charlotte Wächter (née Bleckmann), Restitution, Kampf gegen Fasching und Fasten, Frau Wächter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Poland, Austria, Museums, Vienna, The Battle Between Carnival and Lent
A few weeks ago some interesting speculation started circulating about the possibility of a new forgery operation in Germany, which was home to the now-infamous Wolfgang Beltracchi. Beltracchi successfully fooled buyers for years with forged Expressionist and Modernist paintings, going so far as to invent a fictional “Jäger Collection” (including a staged photograph of Beltracchi’s wife purporting to show a painting on the wall of an ancestors home). The most interesting thing about the current story is that it is impossible to tell yet whether there is really a problem; the most detailed efforts to date have been unable to confirm whether Kurt Waldmann, the artist in question, even existed. Many of the indicia of concern are there, but they are hardly conclusive.
Topics: Jäger Collection, Kurt Waldmann, Brussels, Forgery, “Künstliche Tatsachen / Boundary Objects", authentication, authenticity, Pascal Polar, Strasbourg, Bauhaus, Dada, Berlin Wall, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Jean Milossis, Wolfgang Beltracchi, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Kunsthaus Dresden, Museums, Berliner Kurier