'Die "Sammlung Gurlitt" der Neuen Galerie der Stadt Linz' (The "Gurlitt Collection" at the Neue Galerie Linz)
This research report was compiled by Walter Schuster, head of Historical Archives at the Linz City Archive (Upper Austria). The report describes and examines the activities of Berlin art dealer and publisher Wolfgang Gurlitt during the Nazi period, his role in the creation of the Neue Galerie Linz in the post-war years, and the city’s acquisition of part of Gurlitt’s collection in the 1950s.
The Neue Galerie in Linz opened in 1948. A significant part of its original collection consisted of works from the collection of Wolfgang Gurlitt, who was closely involved in the creation of the art gallery from the start and held the post of director between 1946 and 1956. For several years, the gallery bore the suffix Wolfgang-Gurlitt-Museum. Between 1953 and 1956, the city acquired 111 oil paintings and over 459 prints from Gurlitt’s collection for the gallery.
In September 1998, the mayor of Linz, Dr. Franz Dobusch, instructed the city’s municipal archive to research those acquisitions. A report was published four months later in January 1999. The Neue Galerie, now renamed Lentos Museum of Modern Art Linz, re-opened in a brand new building in May 2003.
The report is divided into nine sections, the first of which introduces the goals of the research: to investigate and clarify the acquisitions from the Gurlitt collection by the city of Linz and to search for indications that they originated from 'Jewish collections.' Wolfgang Gurlitt’s background and activities and his 'ambivalent' relationship with the city of Linz are also a focus.
The second section details the life of Wolfgang Gurlitt (1888-1965) and his activities during the Nazi period. Sections 3, 4 and 6 describe the creation of the Neue Galerie, the purchase of works from Gurlitt’s art collection and the souring of the relationship between the art dealer and the city, including the protracted argument over the removal of Gurlitt's name from the gallery’s title. Section 5 outlines the research undertaken on several works of art with a suspect provenance, including two paintings which have since been restituted, Die Näherin by Lesser Ury and Krumau, 1916 (or Städtchen am Fluss ) by Egon Schiele. Section 7 contains concluding remarks and is followed by a list of archival sources and a bibliography in section 8.
Catalogue of Acquisitions (1947-1957)
Section 9 of the report is a catalogue of all acquisitions of the Neue Galerie between 1947 and 1957 compiled by Roland Leitgeweger, archivist at the Linz Municipal Archives, with the assistance of staff at the Neue Galerie. The catalogue includes works bought directly from artists and works created after 1945, but excludes Gurlitt's collection of works by the Austrian artist Alfred Kubin (Gurlitt acquired the works directly from the artist; according to the text these works are generally seen to be 'in the clear' because of the two men's friendship).
The catalogue lists paintings and sculptures separately from works on paper and is further divided into acquisitions from the Gurlitt collection and those from other sources. Within these categories, the works are ordered alphabetically by artist. The entries include the title of the work (including any variations in brackets), the inventory numbers of the Neue Galerie, references to catalogues raisonnés (WV = Werkverzeichnis), the date of acquisition by the 'Neue Galerie', the purchase price and name of the seller and, if known, provenance information. No illustrations are provided.
The report can no longer be consulted online, but is available here.
Dr. Walter Schuster
Archiv der Stadt Linz
Tel.: +43 (0)70 7070 2973
Fax: +43 (0)70 7070 2962
Walter Schuster, Die “Sammlung Gurlitt” der Neuen Galerie der Stadt Linz, Linz 1999
<http://www.linz.at/archiv/index_e.html>, accessed 4 July 2007.
http://www.oesta.gv.at/site/7753/default.aspx, accessed 30 October 2017