Spoils of War: The Loss, Reappearance and Recovery of Cultural Property

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Based on the acclaimed international symposium held in 1995, The Spoils of War explores the ongoing debate over the vast amounts of art and cultural property displaced as a result of World War II. Not only paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts but also archaeological artifacts, rare books and manuscripts, musical instruments and scores, religious objects, and memorabilia of every description were seized by the Nazis, taken by individuals, or removed to the USSR by the Soviet army at the end of the war. Now, ...
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Overview

Based on the acclaimed international symposium held in 1995, The Spoils of War explores the ongoing debate over the vast amounts of art and cultural property displaced as a result of World War II. Not only paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts but also archaeological artifacts, rare books and manuscripts, musical instruments and scores, religious objects, and memorabilia of every description were seized by the Nazis, taken by individuals, or removed to the USSR by the Soviet army at the end of the war. Now, more than fifty years later, lost and stolen objects continue to appear on the art market and in private, museum, and state collections, including masterpieces of Impressionist painting, old master drawings from the Franz Koenigs collection, and gold treasures excavated by Schliemann at Troy. Questions of ownership remain unresolved and are battled out in court, legislated, or negotiated in treaties. At the three-day symposium, organized by The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York, distinguished specialists - government representatives, curators, archaeologists, historians and journalists, former military officers, and experts in art law - took part in spirited, candid, and often moving discussions, which are fully documented only in this unprecedented book.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Based on a much-discussed 1995 international symposium at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, this book unites an impressive variety of valuable testimonies about the problems-historical, artistic and legal-posed by the looting of artwork during WWII and the restitution of these objects. The subject is very much a work in progress, since although some major treasures like the Quedlinburg medieval art booty, stolen by an American GI, was sold back to Germany by his heirs, a vast trove of artwork looted by the Soviets after the war and exposed in a 1991 ArtNews feature are as far as ever from being sent back to their owners, despite hints and even pleas to the Russians in essays in this book. A touching perspective is given by surviving members of the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, now octogenarians, about their fascinating work, accomplished immediately after the war, sorting out Europe's lost, stolen and strayed art treasures and the unexpected fun had by doing so. Tragedy is brought into the picture by the large numbers of works still lost or presumed destroyed, including masterpieces by Raphael and El Greco and an exquisite 12th-century cross called "the most important national relic of Belarus." This is an extremely timely and well-organized book of urgent interest to every art lover. 123 illustrations, 25 in color.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on a much-discussed 1995 international symposium at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, this book unites an impressive variety of valuable testimonies about the problemshistorical, artistic and legalposed by the looting of artwork during WWII and the restitution of these objects. The subject is very much a work in progress, since although some major treasures like the Quedlinburg medieval art booty, stolen by an American GI, was sold back to Germany by his heirs, a vast trove of artwork looted by the Soviets after the war and exposed in a 1991 ArtNews feature are as far as ever from being sent back to their owners, despite hints and even pleas to the Russians in essays in this book. A touching perspective is given by surviving members of the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, now octogenarians, about their fascinating work, accomplished immediately after the war, sorting out Europe's lost, stolen and strayed art treasures and the unexpected fun had by doing so. Tragedy is brought into the picture by the large numbers of works still lost or presumed destroyed, including masterpieces by Raphael and El Greco and an exquisite 12th-century cross called "the most important national relic of Belarus." This is an extremely timely and well-organized book of urgent interest to every art lover. 123 illustrations, 25 in color. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The ever-rapacious Nazis looted staggering quantities of great art and antiques from the nations they occupied. Much of it found its way back to Germany, and following the Allied victory, many thousands of rare (and some priceless) pieces were identified, and returned to the countries from which they had been taken. But not all of the paintings, statues, and archaeological treasures were recovered: Some were taken by Soviet troops and disappeared into Russia. Still others slipped into the black market in western Europe, and were snapped up by wealthy (if unprincipled) collectors. A 1995 symposium at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts brought together European and American investigators and historians to discuss both the the Nazi thefts and the current state of knowledge of the whereabouts of the many still missing treasures. Those papers are reprinted here. While the pieces are detailed, dry, and likely to be of most interest to specialists, there are some extraordinary stories, most prominently the description of the recent rediscovery of "Priam's treasure," excavated by Schliemann at Troy and hidden since WW II in a Russian museum.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810944695
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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