During World War II untold numbers of artworks and pieces of cultural property were stolen by Nazi forces. After the war, an estimated one million artworks and 2.5 million books were recovered. Many more were destroyed. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue trace the layered stories of the objects that survived, exploring the circumstances of their theft, their post-war rescue, and their afterlives in museums and private collections.
Afterlives will include works by major artists that were looted from Jewish collections during the war as well as treasured pieces of Judaica. Rare examples of Jewish ceremonial objects from destroyed synagogues; works by such renowned artists as Pierre Bonnard, Marc Chagall, Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Camille Pissarro, among others; and rarely seen archival photographs and documents will all be on view. Visitors will be able to see 53 works of art, 80 Jewish ceremonial objects, a range of photographs and archival documents, and new commissions by four contemporary artists: Maria Eichhorn, Hadar Gad, Dor Guez, and Lisa Oppenheim.
Seventy-five years after the Second World War, “Afterlives” will explore how surviving artworks and other precious objects were changed by those events; how they have moved through time, bearing witness to profound historical ruptures while also acting as enduring carriers of individual expression, knowledge, and creativity. The exhibition will follow the paths taken by works of art across national borders, through military depots, and in and out of networks of collectors, looters, ideologues, and restitution organizations.