Sunday, December 3, 2017

Germany: Why did Düsseldorf cancel an art show honoring a victim of the Nazis?

Via The New York Times:
The mayor of Düsseldorf is coming under intense fire for canceling an exhibition about the Jewish art dealer Max Stern, who was forced to liquidate his gallery there after the Nazis took power before World War II. 
Critics of the decision to cancel the show, which had been scheduled to open in February at the city’s Stadtmuseum, now include the German culture minister. 
The exhibition, organized by curators in this country and in Canada, had been designed to pay homage to the life and legacy of Mr. Stern, who fled Germany in 1938 and eventually settled in Montreal. But the Düsseldorf city government abruptly canceled the show after three years of preparation, citing “current demands for information and restitution in German museums in connection with the Galerie Max Stern.” 
Mayor Thomas Geisel has not explained his objections in detail, but his concern seemed focused on the listing, as part of the exhibition, of works that Stern’s estate is seeking to recover, some of which are held by German museums. Mr. Geisel said he wants a full, scholarly investigation into the history of these pieces before they are discussed publicly. 
Local Jewish groups and the exhibition’s co-organizers in Israel and Canada voiced dismay at the cancellation. 
“It is a frustrating decision,” said Nissim Tal, the director general of the Haifa Museums in Israel. “We believe that the Max Stern story should not be eliminated.” 
The show, “Max Stern — From Düsseldorf to Montreal,” was to travel to Haifa in September and to the McCord Museum in Montreal in 2019. Instead of the exhibition, the city said it plans to hold an international symposium on Mr. Stern next fall.
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