Whose Art Is It?

Trixi Steil and Lara Mia Padmadaban together with Vanessa von Kolpinski on the podium of the international conference "20 Years of Washington Principles: Ways into the Future" on 27 November 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung
Trixi Steil and Lara Mia Padmadaban together with Vanessa von Kolpinski on the podium of the international conference "20 Years of Washington Principles: Ways into the Future" on 27 November 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung

The issues of looted art, loss of cultural assets and the restitution of art have regularly been in the headlines. Who owns art today that was stolen 60 years ago and now hangs in museums? At the EUSTORY Summit 2018, EUSTORY prizewinners researched this topic with their finger on the pulse of the times. A few days later they were able to put their results into practice at an international conference in Berlin.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the international guidelines for the fair and equitable treatment of Nazi looted art, the so-called "Washington Principles", the EUSTORY prizewinners Lara Mia Padmadaban and Trixi Steil were on the podium of the high profile conference "20 Years of Washington Principles: Roadmap For the Future".

They presented the results of their EUSTORY workshop, which was organised in cooperation with the German Lost Art Foundation as part of the EUSTORY Summit, to the expert audience. One of their proposals was not to leave works of art of controversial provenance statically in one place, but to make them accessible to the public at changing locations worldwide.

In addition, six young adults were able attend a workshop of provenance research in Dresden, organised by the Körber Foundation, the German Lost Art Foundation (DZK) and the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD). The young EUSTORY alumni together with Maria Obenaus (DZK/SKD) dealt with the porcelain figures of the Klemperer family in the porcelain collection in the Dresden Zwinger. The participants followed the stories of the figures from the robbery by the Nazis to the restitution to the Klemperer family. Together with the illustrator Elke Steiner, the participants created a comic that will in future convey the findings of provenance research to young visitors to the exhibition in an impressive way.

The basis for the participation in the conference in Berlin and in the workshop in Dresden was laid at the EUSTORY Summit workshop "Restitution of Art - Finding Fair and Just Solutions", which was developed in cooperation with the German Lost Art Foundation. In this workshop 16 participants from 12 countries worked together with Vanessa von Kolpinski (DZK) on questions of restitution of stolen art. They dealt with the complex issues of who actually owns art, how the Washington Principles as an international agreement seek fair and just solutions, and how young people can and should be involved in these questions. The results of their EUSTORY workshop in Berlin were captured in short films.

Thanks to the cooperation between the Körber Foundation, the German Lost Art Foundation and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, it has been possible to introduce young people to the complex subject of the loss of cultural assets through educational work and to use their expertise to convey an interest to other young people and make a lasting contribution to a relevant topic of our time.

The film summary shown at the conference "20 Years of Washington Principles" as well as the short films made during the workshop can be viewed here.

Link to the conference "20 Years of Washington Principles: Ways into the Future" and the programme.

 


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