Behind the Iron Curtain:
A case study of the East German exports of art and their connection to Nazi loot
Margaux Dumas, Université du Paris/Technische Universität Berlin
Xenia Schiemann, Technische Universität Berlin
Evening lecture at the digital conference “‘VEB Kunst’ – Kulturgutentzug und Handel in der DDR” organised by the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste, 30 November 2020
Lecture Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmZQq7OmYYI&feature=youtu.be
The presentation investigates the outstanding history of one of two mahagony commodes made in 1787 by the important Parisian furniture artist Guillaume Beneman. While one commode is still exhibited in the Louvre, its counterpart experienced a journey through the French Revolution, the Second World War, and the GDR era. Acquired in 1941 in France by the Reichsbank, this commode was included after the war in the Répertoire des biens spoliés published between 1947 and 1949. In 1952 the Beneman commode was transferred to the Märkisches Museum in East Berlin by the GDR Ministry of Finance. Finally, it is to question how this important piece of furniture was sold on the other side of the Iron Curtain in 1986. Thus, the analysed study case clearly illustrates the interface between the provenance research, the art market, and the museum studies on one hand and the close connection between different appropriation contexts on another hand.