News

The National Institute of Art History, which is in the process of creating a database of sales catalogues from occupied France in order to aid the country’s restitution efforts.

France Needs to Overhaul Its Policies on Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art, Report Finds

A report commissioned by former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay states that France is lagging behind in the international effort to return Nazi-looted art. Citing “a lack of communication and transparency” and “weak responses and inaction,” cultural heritage adviser David Zivie, who authored the report, advised the government to create a cultural heritage task force to oversee restitution cases. The recommendation would shift the responsibility for such cases from the culture ministry to a council of experts.

According to the Art Newspaper, which reviewed the findings, the state is still debating about whether to release the document to the public. Zivie began working on his investigation of the country’s restitution policies in May 2017. He finished the report in mid-March and then delivered it to Azoulay’s successor, Françoise Nyseen.

Zivie notes that French curators are not trained in how to conduct provenance research like museum professionals in the United States and Germany. He also recommends that all French institutions make an inventory of the works from their collections that lack provenance information between the years of 1933 and 1945 and then publish the inventories on a website dedicated to restoring artworks to their rightful owners.

While some progress in France is being made—the National Institute of Art History is working to create a database of sales catalogues from occupied France, and the government is researching the origins of some two thousand works labeled “MNR,” or “national museums recovery,” that were removed from Germany after World War II ended—Zivie claims that these efforts lack the necessary resources to be more effective. The Louvre also recently designated an area in the museum for the exhibition of works that were stolen by the Nazis in an attempt to encourage descendants of the pieces’ previous owners to come forward, but critics claim it is not doing enough.

In November, the twentieth anniversary of the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art will be commemorated at an international symposium in Berlin. Zivie said that France should “act fast” in order to show the country’s commitment to restituting works.

 

 

LATEST NEWS