From Mudgee to Germany, art enthusiasts recently took a trip back in time to discover the mystery and intrigue surrounding famous works of art that were looted by the Nazis.
(min cost $8)
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Art historian Shauna Isaac, from the UK, spent time in the region as part of a speaking tour on the ADFAS lecture circuit.
The lecture titled ‘The Real Stories Behind the Most Intriguing Cases of Nazi-Looted Art’ delved into why and how the Nazis looted and the recovery process.
“We discuss the journeys from their wartime owners to where they are now and what makes them so intriguing,” she explained.
Ms Isaac’s passion for the niche topic stemmed from her aunt’s experience with looting, which sparked her imagination.
“She owned work by an Austrian expressionist painter, which was taken by a Nazi, and the whole story is how she got it back and it’s one of the most intriguing stories because it’s actually changed the way museums around the world loan art now,” Ms Isaac said.
“You can’t loan art abroad without checking what’s called the provenance or the ownership history of the work.”
Isaac currently manages an art recovery company and served on the Looted Art Working Group for the Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague, where she was instrumental in drafting the Terezin Declaration on Nazi looting, which was ratified by 46 countries.
She explained the most rewarding aspect of her career is talking to the victims.
“There are so many stories of bravery and triumphing over evil and what I do is give back a part of their history and in many respects, we’re actually righting the wrongs.”
“Art is a reflection of culture, and one of the things that the Navis tried to do through mass genocide was to not only eradicate the people but also the culture,” she said.
“People might think that art and the arts are frivolous but in thousands of years this is what historians are going to be looking back on to get an idea of what society was like.”
The next ADFAS lecture, ‘Adventures Amongst the Nomadic Tribes of Iran & Afghanistan’, will be presented on October 6 by Brian MacDonald.
More information on the upcoming lecture can be found online at adfas.org.au/societies/new-south-wales-act/mudgee/
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