A new look at Bührle art collection’s shadowy past – SWI swissinfo.ch

A new look at Bührle art collection’s shadowy past


Emile George Bührle in his Zurich gallery in 1954, between paintings by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Derain and Degas

Is the Bührle art collection in Zurich, one of Europe’s most highly regarded private repositories, doing enough to locate the owners of works of art that the Nazis may have stolen?

A new book has rekindled the controversy, while the Zurich Museum of Fine Arts, or Kunsthaus, is preparing to display a large number of the collection’s paintings.

Meanwhile, the Swiss government wants to boost efforts by museums to research the ownership history of the works they house.

The very title of the new book is slightly sulphurous. “The Bührle Black Book” (in German), co-authored by Thomas Buomberger, historian and journalist, and the art historian Guido Magnaguagno, aims to reopen the debate on the art collection of German-born industrialist Emil Bührle (1890-1956), who made a fortune selling arms to Nazis and the Allies during the Second World War.

The timing of the publication is significant. Subtitled “Art stolen for the Zurich Kunsthaus?”, the book has appeared just as the art museum is starting construction of a new wing.

Much of the Bührle collection – which includes paintings by Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh among its 190 masterpieces – will be housed in the extension, which should be completed by 2020.

The conditions under which Bührle (pictured opposite) purchased the works are already widely known, thanks in particular to theBergier Commission, whose research into Switzerland’s relations with the Nazi regime was published between 1998 et 2002.

‘Gurlitt effect’

So why has this book appeared now?

Read complete text at: A new look at Bührle art collection’s shadowy past – SWI swissinfo.ch

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