Miriam Cahn plans to pull works from Zurich Art Museum over B├╝hrle Collection

Swissinfo 22 December 2021

Internationally renowned Swiss artist Miriam Cahn says she wants to remove all her works on display at the Zurich Art Museum in response to the outcry over the Bührle collection. Paintings in the collection are suspected of being linked to art looted by the Nazis.

Miriam Cahn's comments come after a media conference by the museum and the Bührle Foundation last week to respond to some of the criticism about the decision to display the controversial collection.

"I no longer want to be represented in 'this' art museum in Zurich," Cahn said in a letter to the Jewish weekly TachlesExternal link, published on Wednesday and obtained by media agency Keystone-SDA. "I wish to remove all my works from the Zurich Art Museum. I will buy them back at the original sale price," said the 72-year-old artist, who is Jewish.

She called out the museum for its "historical blindness" and criticised the "opaque mixing" between the museum, the city and various other parties that she argues led to the “stupid loan contract” of the Bührle Collection.

The inclusion of around 200 works from the Bührle CollectionExternal link into the new extension of the museum, which opened this autumn, has sparked controversy over its origins. Wealthy industrialist Emil Georg Bührle, who died in 1956, earned much of his wealth through the sale of arms to Germany during and after the Second World War. His fortune allowed him to build up an art collection which he bequeathed to the foundation.

The Bührle Foundation says none of the works on display were looted from Jews but the museum’s decision to display works from the foundation is still seen as an affront to victims of the Holocaust. Following calls from local public officials, the museum has said it will set up an independent commission to investigate the provenance of the works.

Born in Basel, Cahn's paintings can be found in numerous museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Museum in London.
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