Basel’s Acquisitions of "Degenerate Art"
Published by Hatje Cantz.
Edited with text by Eva Reifert, Tessa Rosebrock. Text by Claudia Blank, Gregory Desauvage, Uwe Fleckner, Meike Hoffmann, Georg Kreis, Ines Rotermund-Reynard, Sandra Sykora, Christoph Zuschlag.
Taking inventory of a collection saved from the Nazis’ assault on modern art
This hardcover volume illuminates a pivotal moment in the history of the Kunstmuseum Basel's collection. In 1937, the Nazi cultural policy denounced thousands of works as “degenerate” and forcibly removed them from German museums, selling many to collectors and museums abroad. Georg Schmidt, the Kunstmuseum Basel's director at the time, acquired over 20 of these looted works, including avant-garde masterpieces such as Franz Marc’s Painting Animal Destinies. This publication tells the story of these acquisitions, tracing the events leading up to it and the players involved, as well as the impact of the Nazi regime’s cultural violence on modern art. Switzerland emerges as an important character in this tale, and Castaway Modernism homes in on its cultural resonances as expressed through the auction of Galerie Fischer in Lucerne, Georg Schmidt’s approach as a collector and the classification of the acquisitions.