From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational & Global Perspective, Conference, Newnham College Cambridge, England, 23-24 March 2017

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International Conferences


Thursday 23 March 2017

Foyer, Lucia Windsor Room

10.00 - 10.30
Opening remarks

10.30 – 12.30
Panel I. A Paradigm Shift? From Legal to Moral Solutions in Restitution Practice
Commentator: Victoria Louise Steinwachs (Sotheby’s London)
– Debbie De Girolamo (Queen Mary, University of London), ‘Fair & Just Solutions – A Moniker for Moral Solutions?
– Tabitha I. Oost (University of Amsterdam), ‘Restitution policies of Nazi- looted art in The Netherlands and the UK. A change from a legal to a moral paradigm?’
– Evelien Campfens (Leiden University), ‘Bridging the gap between ethics and law in looted art: the case for a transnational soft-law approach

12.30 – 14.00

14.00 – 16.00
Panel II. Losing Art/Losing Identity: the Emotions of Material Culture
Commentator: Bianca Gaudenzi (Cambridge/Konstanz)
– Emily Löffler (Landesmuseum Mainz), ‘The J-numbers-collection in Landesmuseum Mainz. A case study on provenance, material culture, & emotions
– Michaela Sidenberg (Jewish Museum, Prague), ‘Rescue/Ransom/Restitution: The struggle to preserve the collective memory of Czech and Moravian Jews
– Mary Kate Cleary (Art Recovery Group, New York), ‘Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: self-portraits of a woman artist as a refugee

16.00 – 16.30

16.30 – 18.30
Roundtable I. From Theory to Practice: Provenance Research in Museums
Chair: Robert Holzbauer (Leopold Museum, Vienna)
– Tessa Rosebrock (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe), ‘Inventory records as a dead-end. On the purchases of French drawings by the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe from 1965 to 1990
– Laurel Zuckerman (Independent Researcher, Bry sur Marne), ‘Art Provenance Databases: Are They Fulfilling Their Promise? Comparative evaluation of ten major museum databases in the USA and the UK
– Shlomit Steinberg (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), ‘What started as a trickle turned into a flow- restitution at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Drinks reception
Hall (speakers/chairs)

Hall (speakers/chairs)


Friday 24 March 2017

09.00- 10.45
Panel III. The Postwar Art Market: The Impact of a Changing World
Commentator: Richard Aronowitz-Mercer (Sotheby’s London)
– Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam), ‘Switzerland and Britain: Recontextualizing Fluchtgut
– Nathalie Neumann (Independent Researcher, Berlin), ‘Have the baby born in England!’ The trans-European itinerary (1933-1941) of the art collector Julius Freund
– Diana Kostyrko (Australian National University, Canberra), ‘Mute Witness: the Polish Poetess

10.45 – 11.15

11.15 – 13.00
Panel IV. Restitution Initiatives and Postwar Politics in the United Kingdom
Commentator: Simone Gigliotti (Royal Holloway University of London)
– Elizabeth Campbell (University of Denver), ‘Monuments Woman: Anne O. Popham and British Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art
– Marc Masurovsky (Holocaust Art Restitution Project), ‘Operation Safehaven (1944-49): Framing the postwar discussion on restitution of Nazi looted art through British lenses
– Angelina Giovani (Jewish Claims Conference), ‘Case study on looted art that belonged to British Artists

13.00 – 14.00

14.00 – 16.00
Panel V. Conflicting Interests: Restitution, National Politics and Vergangenheitsbewältigung across Postwar Europe
Commentator: Lisa Niemeyer (Independent Researcher, Wiesbaden)
– Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig (Wiesbaden Museum), ‘Pechora monastery, Russian collection looted by ERR and landed in Wiesbaden CCP
– Jennifer Gramer (University of Wisconsin-Madison), ‘Dangerous or Banal? Nazi Art & American Occupation in Postwar Germany and US
– Agata Wolska (Independent researcher, Krakow), ‘The Vaucher Committee as International Restitution Body – the Abandoned Idea
– Nicholas O’Donnell (Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Boston), ‘Comparison of statutory & regulatory origins of restitutionary commissions in Germany, Austria, NL & UK after WWII

16.00 – 16.30

16.30 – 18.00
Roundtable II. From Theory to Practice: Provenance & the Art Market
Chair: Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam)
– Isabel von Klitzing (Provenance Research & Art Consulting, Frankfurt) and Pierre Valentin (Constantine Cannon LLP, London), ‘From Theory to practice – when collectors want to do the right thing?
– Richard Aronowitz-Mercer (Sotheby's London), 'The Importance of Provenance Research to an International Auction House'
– Friederike Schwelle (Art Loss Register, London), ‘The difference between US and UK in resolving claims for Nazi looted art

End of the conference

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Introduction to the Conference - Organisers' Text June 2016
In recent years, the subject of looted art and the restitution of cultural property has come to the fore of historical enquiry and public consciousness alike. While popular recollections of this politically sensitive subject often display a certain lack of historical accuracy, a growing number of historians, art historians and legal scholars have devoted their energy to investigating the nuances and complexities of the phenomenon across time and space. Parallel to this, experts based at local, national and international institutions such as ministries, museums, auction houses, archives, galleries or even private collectors have started adopting measures designed to prompt the art world to adopt fair practices for identifying, recovering and restituting looted art. The field, however, remains rather compartmentalized along national, institutional and professional lines and still displays a marked tendency to focus on specific cases or collections. Instead much could be gained by studying the phenomenon in a broader comparative perspective and by exploring the tangible links to some of the central themes of 20th-century history: revolution, persecution, displacement, war, migration and genocide. 
The aim of this conference is to identify and address the historical continuities and specificities of the history of looted art and restitution in the overlapping contexts of 20th- and 21st-century British, European and World history as well as to assess its scope and relevance in light of present-day good practices and restitution policies in place in the UK and beyond. We seek contributions investigating the history of Nazi looted art and its restitution in order to gain a deeper understanding of these processes as political and cultural practices as well as to assess and foster the development of fair practices in art trade and restitution in transnational and global perspective.
The UK case offers a particularly telling example in this respect: persecuted by the Nazis, large numbers of refugees emigrated from Central Europe during the 1930s, including many collectors, artists and art dealers who fled to the UK and effected very significant changes to the country’s cultural landscape. At the same time, Nazi-looted art objects are to be found in UK collections that are either unrecognized as such, disputed or in the process of being returned. Whilst keeping a comparative perspective based on examples and policies in other countries, the focus of the conference will be on collectors, dealers and artists that were persecuted by the Nazis and fled to the United Kingdom.
We welcome papers on the following themes: 
§  Changing definitions of “looted art” and of “restitution”, their periodization and links to political history: criteria, motifs and limitations
§  Historical and legal interpretations of the interplay between spoliation, displacement and forms of cultural genocide
§  The (trans)national art world and restitution: the impact on museums, galleries, art dealing and collecting practices
§  Identity and restitution: cultural property, international/national/local power structures and identity politics
§  National policies, decision-making processes and the development of international cooperation  - including the work of both private and public actors
§  Public debates and cultural representations of restitution claims: the factors that contribute to their visibility and their impact on the public discourse
§  Looted art as a space of memory and memories of restitution: the legacy and use of institutional as well as collective restitution debates
§  The emotions of material culture: The emotional qualities of looted and restituted art as symbols of Objektkultur
§  The development of fair restitution practices and how/if they could be applied to different national and institutional contexts
§  Resources available to scholars and professionals in the field, with a particular emphasis on research resources in the United Kingdom
The conference language is English. Papers will be pre-circulated in mid-March 2017. Please send a proposal of max 400 words, accompanied by a short CV, to Bianca Gaudenzi and Julia Rickmeyer ( by 15 October 2016.
Organisers:    Bianca Gaudenzi (University of Cambridge/University of Konstanz)
Julia Rickmeyer (Sotheby’s London)
Dates: Thursday 23 – Friday 24 March 2017
Location: Lucia Windsor Room, Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DF

Programme Source 3 February 2017 and 15 March 2017

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