Castaway Modernism Basel’s Acquisitions of "Degenerate" Art

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Edited by: Eva Reifert, Tessa Rosebrock Texts by: Claudia Blank, Gregory Desauvage, Uwe Fleckner, Meike Hoffmann, Georg Kreis, Eva Reifert, Tessa Rosebrock, Ines Rotermund-Reynard, Sandra Sykora, Christoph Zuschlag Graphic Design: Harald Pridgar English November 2022, 288 Pages, 290 Ills. Quarterbound hardcover 286mm x 226mm
ISBN: 978-3-7757-5222-0
| Displaced Art

Castaway Modernism illuminates an important 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. The Third Reich’s Ministry of Propaganda correctly assumed that a portion of such works would find buyers abroad, in this way certain artworks deemed “internationally exploitable” reached the art market through various channels. In 1939 Georg Schmidt (1896–1965), the museum’s director at the time, managed to acquire the painting Fate of the Animals by Franz Marc and 20 other avant-garde masterpieces. In this catalogue, renowned experts trace the events based on the seizures from German museums and explain the historical context—presenting the protagonists from the institutions involved and the art market, as well as revealing how the Nazi regime's act of cultural violence that resulted in an artificial fragmentation of modernism into art that was "exploitable" on the one hand, and art that has been destroyed or forgotten on the other. The various contributions bring the specifically Swiss aspects of this story into focus, such as on the auction of the Galerie Fischer in Lucerne, on Georg Schmidt's approach, and on the classification of the acquisitions in the context of Basel's collection history.

The KUNSTMUSEUM BASEL houses the oldest public art collection in the world.
EXHIBITION
Kunstmuseum Basel
October 22, 2022–February 9, 2023