Gurlitt collection may be going on display at Documenta 14

2017 may provide an opportunity to see the Gurlitt hoard in its entirety. The artistic director of Documenta 14, one of the world’s most hotly anticipated contemporary art events, has told a German newspaper that he hopes to exhibit all of the works of art in the collection of the late Cornelius Gurlitt in the next edition of the fair. 

Speaking to the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Adam Szymczyk said: “I am not interested in an exclusive or first spectacular presentation but I would like to show the entire Gurlitt estate in the political and aesthetic context of Documenta 14. Our exhibition provides a unique and timely public platform for such a presentation.”

Szymczyk has already created controversy with his announcement that the quinquennial art show will take place in Athens as well as Kassel in Germany, where it was founded in 1955. This latest move appears to be in keeping with his stated belief that contemporary art should be a wider reflection of current events and issues, not just contemporary art production.

Although Szymczyk said that he had a “very constructive meeting” with Matthias Frehner, the director of the Kunstmuseum Bern (who were bequethed the works by Gurlitt in his will), he also mentioned that t the museum’s board of trustees “did not share this interest”. He hopes to display the hoard, which comprises around 1,300 works by artists including Picasso, Chagall and Renoir, “in a quiet way, almost neutrally, maybe just arranged chronologically.”

Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of culture, told him that the works could be presented in Germany only “for the purpose of informing about the history of persecution of the original owners” and so that heirs can claim what is rightfully theirs.  Szymczyk says that would be “exactly” what would be achieved by showing the controversial hoard during Documenta.

For the latest updates and commentary on the Gurlitt case see our posts here and here.

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