Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Nazi Art

The discovery of almost 1500 artworks including examples by Picasso, Munch, Matisse, Kirchner and Klee in the properties of Cornelius Gurlitt in 2012 stunned the art world. The ‘Munich Art Hoard’, as it became known, was immediately suspected of being looted during the Nazi era, not least because Cornelius’s father was the celebrated art historian and dealer, Hildebrand Gurlitt – a man who it transpires was prepared to exploit every aspect of Nazi policy to personally enrich himself, despite his Jewish heritage.

In 2012, nearly 1500 artworks were found in the properties of Cornelius Gurlitt, in Munich, Germany (Credit: Bundeskunsthalle Bonn)
Perhaps the publicity pricked Cornelius’s conscience, for on his death in 2014 he controversially left the hoard to the Kunstmuseum in Bern, stipulating that the provenance of the works be examined and any looted art returned to the heirs of the original owners.

The rise of the National Socialists meant that anyone seen to promote ‘degenerate art’ came under pressure

The first exhibitions to analyse the collection, jointly organised between the Kunstmuseum in Bern and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, are not art historical in any conventional sense. Instead they focus on the circumstances which allowed Hildebrand Gurlitt to build his collection; the persecution of ‘degenerate artists’ and Jewish collectors and dealers under the Nazi regime.

Cornelius’s father was the celebrated art historian and dealer Hildebrand (Credit: Alamy)
Hildebrand Gurlitt’s taste in art ran counter to the men who would become his masters and twice cost him his job, first at the Zwickau museum where his exhibitions of Die Brücke artists such as Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Emil Nolde fell foul of the Militant League for German Culture, and then at the Kunstverein in Hamburg where the rise of the National Socialists meant that anyone seen to promote ‘degenerate art’ came under pressure, and he was forced to resign in 1933.

Classified as a quarter Jew under the Reich Citizenship Laws because of his Jewish grandmother, Gurlitt was no longer able to work for the state. Relying on the excellent contacts he had made as a museum director he set himself up as a dealer, taking the precaution of registering the business under the name of his Aryan wife Helene.

Here he was, cautiously, still able to exhibit artists he favoured such as those of Die Brücke and the later Expressionists including Otto Dix, George Grosz and Max Beckmann.
Taking advantage

He soon became very successful – but it is clear that his success relied largely on the exploitation of other Jewish dealers and collectors. Membership of The Reich Chamber of Fine Arts became compulsory for dealers and from 1935 Jews were systematically excluded, forcing them to liquidate their collections and allowing dealers like Gurlitt to benefit from lower-than-market prices as well as the increasing lack of competition.

Exhibitor List for Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2018

Next month, Art Los Angeles Contemporary will once again take over the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California, and present a bounty of galleries from around the world, some of them no doubt pleased to be escaping wintry climates for some Golden State sunshine. This year, 67 galleries will be participating, including longtime local stalwarts such as David Kordansky Gallery, Ibid and Ghebaly Gallery. Other return clients include Jack Hanley from New York, Peres Projects from Berlin and Shane Campbell Gallery from Chicago.

But there are also some newcomers from various parts of the globe: Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran in Montréal, Instituto de Visión in Bogotá, LAZY Mike in Moscow, Revolver in Lima, and Vigo Gallery in London. And the Freeway sector, which focuses on young galleries, returns for the third year, and will feature exhibitors such as Marinaro from New York, Galerie Derouillon from Paris, and the North Little Rock outfit Good Weather.

“As the international art community looks towards Los Angeles as a new global epicenter, it is essential to have an event that draws upon a comprehensive notion of the city,” Tim Fleming, the fair’s founder and director, said in a release. “ALAC is a product of Los Angeles’ unique cultural community composed of an incredibly diverse array of artists, galleries, curators, institutions, collectors and enthusiasts.”

ALAC will hold an opening reception January 25, 2018, and opens to the public the following day.

The full list is below.

ALAC 2018 Exhibitor List:

10 Chancery Lane Gallery (Hong Kong)

313 Art Project (Seoul)

1301PE (Los Angeles)

AA|LA Gallery (Los Angeles)*

Louise Alexander Gallery (Porto Cervo)

Altman Siegel Gallery (San Francisco)

Peter Blake Gallery (Laguna Beach)

Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago)

Edward Cella Art & Architecture (Los Angeles)

Ceysson & Bénétière (Geneva / Luxembourg / New York / Paris / Saint-Étienne)
China Art Objects Galleries (Los Angeles)

Club Pro (Los Angeles)*

Galerie Derouillon (Paris)*

DOCUMENT (Chicago)

Anat Ebgi (Los Angeles)

Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran (Montréal)

Gallery EXIT (Hong Kong)

Henrique Faria (Buenos Aires / New York)

Five Car Garage (Santa Monica)

Honor Fraser (Los Angeles)

Galerie Christophe Gaillard (Paris)

Asya Geisberg Gallery (New York)

Ghebaly Gallery (Los Angeles)

Good Weather (North Little Rock)*

Halsey McKay Gallery (East Hampton)*

Jack Hanley Gallery (New York)

The Hole (New York)

Ibid Gallery (Los Angeles)

Instituto de Visión (Bogotá)

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles (Los Angeles)

Kayne Griffin Corcoran (Los Angeles)

Lisa Kehler Art + Projects (Winnipeg)

Marie Kirkegaard Gallery (Copenhagen)

KLOWDEN MANN (Los Angeles)

David Kordansky Gallery (Los Angeles)

LAZY Mike (Moscow)

Josh Lilley (London)

M. LeBlanc (Chicago)*

M+B (Los Angeles)

Marinaro (New York)*

Miles McEnery Gallery (New York)

Meliksetian | Briggs (Los Angeles)

Nino Mier Gallery (Los Angeles)

Mixografia (Los Angeles)

Shulamit Nazarian (Los Angeles)

Nicodim Gallery (Los Angeles / Bucharest)

Night Gallery (Los Angeles)

Ochi Projects (Los Angeles)*

ODD ARK•LA (Los Angeles)

ONE AND J. Gallery (Seoul)

Parisian Laundry (Montréal)

Parker Gallery (Los Angeles)*

Peres Projects (Berlin)

The Pit (Los Angeles)

The Pit II feat. FriendsWithYou (Los Angeles)

Praz-Delavallade (Paris / Los Angeles)

Printed Matter (New York)

REGARDS (Chicago)

Rental Gallery (East Hampton)

Revolver Galería (Lima)

Reyes Projects (Metro Detroit)

Marc Selwyn Fine Art (Los Angeles)



Vermelho (São Paulo)

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (Los Angeles)

Vigo Gallery (London)

Odysseus Edition

World War II

The New York Times reports that “the mayor of Düsseldorf has backtracked on his last-minute cancellation of an exhibition at the city’s Stadtmuseum about Max Stern, a Jewish art gallery owner who fled Nazi Germany in 1938.” Ronald Lauder, and many others, had called for the show to go forward, which the mayor had previously scuttled because of “current demands for information and restitution in German museums in connection with the Galerie Max Stern.” [The New York Times]

Some 500 academics have condemned Poland’s right-wing government for changes it has orchestrated at the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk, the Art Newspaper reports. “Poland is losing one of the few truly cultural and scientific institutions of international importance,” they said in an open letter. [The Art Newspaper]

Market Action

The record-breaking Leonardo sold at Christie’s for $450.3 million last month was widely touted as the last picture by the artist in private hands, but Bloomberg‘s Katya Kazakina spoke with experts on the Renaissance master, and they point to two—and, perhaps, three—works by the artist that are not in museums and could, conceivably, one day be sold. [Bloomberg]

The absolutely indefatigable painter Mark Bradford, fresh off shows at the Hirshhorn and the Venice Biennale, will have the first show at Hauser & Wirth’s Hong Kong gallery, which opens in March. The gallery’s president, Iwan Wirth, told the Art Newspaper, that there is “enormous appetite” for the artist’s work. [The Art Newspaper]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired from Sotheby’s a Hebrew Bible created in the first half of the 1300s in Spain, Al Día reports. Once owned by collector Jaqui E. Safra, the piece had been estimated to fetch $3.5 million and $5 million on the block, but it was purchased in a private deal. [Al Día]

The Talent

After 16 years at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, Rebecca Nagy is retiring from her position as its director. Nagy told the Gainesville Sun that she’s looking forward to having some time to draw. [The Gainesville Sun]

An anonymous donor has given Indiana University in Bloomington $1.5 million to endow a chair for the study of African art in the art history department of the College of Arts and Sciences. [Press Release]


A public tile mural by Larry Rivers for a Philadelphia mall, which “legions of conservators and public art mavens said could not be moved, has been moved,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. And it has been restored and moved to a public-transit station. “It was a painstaking project for us,” the conservator on the project said, “probably the most difficult we’ve ever done.” [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Artist Paul Chan has penned a stemwinder of an essay that is too complex to summarize here, but very loosely speaking, takes up the topic of Odysseus as an artist. Chan writes, “Being exposed to art means among other things seeing all the resourceful and ingenious ways in which someone has tried to make—using what is readily available—something more than what is there.” Head to the Los Angeles Review of Books to read the piece.

John Russell on Works by David Hockney for a Production of ‘Ubu Roi,’ in 1966

With a David Hockney retrospective having recently opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we’re turning back this week to the September 1966 issue of ARTnews, in which John Russell, in a column about the London art world, addressed the British artist’s work for a production of Ubu Roi and a publication of Constantine Cavafy’s poetry. (Ubu Roi, it should be noted, has a history with artists; Rainer Ganahl recently became the latest to make work related to the famed Alfred Jarry play.) Russell’s thoughts on Hockney’s then-new work follow below. —Alex Greenberger

In a sense, the most rewarding one-man show of the late summer in London was not in an art gallery at all but on the stage of the Royal Court Theater, where David Hockney had designed the sets and costumes for Ubu Roi. As a production, this was no masterpiece: the play had been re-written, rather than translated or adapted, and very little remained of its demonic energy, radical social criticism and weird flights of linguistic parody. Hockney at least had enough respect for Jarry to keep his costumes within the gamut indicated by the author and his decors within the limits laid down in Jarry’s first-night speech on December 10, 1896. Nothing is easier, in fact, for Hockney to suggest a world in which “palm-trees flower at the foot of the bed, for baby elephants to munch the leaves as they bend down from the étragères.” Hockney is, also, a gifted observer of vestimentary indiscretions and has bagged some top-class examples in the course of travels that have taken him from East Berlin to Los Angeles by way of Cairo and Alexandria.

Hockney on Ubu and Cavafy

So he was one jump ahead even of Jarry’s nimble imagination as the burlesqued historical drama swayed to and from Poland (“that is to say, Nowhere”) to the Ukraine and back to the Baltic. Hockney’s gift is for characterization within an absolute minimum of physical means, and this was ideally suited to the mockery-within-mockery which is the basis of the picaresque parts of Ubu. Where he did not succeed (and, in terms of this production, would never have been allowed to) was in conveying the violence and overriding the ill-nature of Ubu. The pear-shaped toy-figure prescribed by the producer and ratified by the principal actor, could never have inspired terror: for this reason the spectacle remained thin.

Hockney in life is a gifted comedian, and much of his work is very funny indeed in an unemphatic way. But the funniness often masks a genuine poetic sensibility, and Hockney has a rare gift for reading and re-reading some text that has caught his fancy until the author in question becomes, almost, his second self. The Greek poet Constantine Cavafy is a case in point: one of Hockney’s finest etchings, Kaisarion in All His Beauty, was based on a poem by Cavafy. The London firm of Editions Alecto commissioned him to make a series of etchings after Cavafy to accompany a new translation on which Stephen Spender has been working, and these etchings, combined with the preliminary sketches for Ubu, were recently shown at Kasmin.