How does a work of art become popular? Who were its owners? And under what circumstances did its ownership change? Interest in the history behind works of art, in how they change hands, particularly in the period from 1933–45, is constantly increasing. Provenance research often supplies previously unknown or surprising answers. In collaboration with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Zentralarchiv (Central Archive), the Nationalgalerie is presenting an exhibition focusing on the collection at the Museum Berggruen, which retells the histories of paintings, drawings and sculptures by artists such as Picasso, Klee, Matisse and Braque.
Introductory essays on selected works in this catalogue illustrate the behind-the-scenes history of Heinz Berggruen’s private collection, which in turn examines the complexity of provenances. This volume discusses not only well-known dealers and collectors, such as Daniel Henri Kahnweiler, Alfred Flechtheim and Douglas Cooper, but also delves into subjects that include art looting by the National Socialists in Germany and France, Picasso’s circle, and the American popularization of classical Modernism. Excellent illustrations of the works, photographs of the backs of works, historical photographs, portraits of the owners, an annotated list with detailed provenance information of the 135 artworks examined, and a lexicon of the people mentioned complete the volume.