Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts

May 13, 2014

Ginanne Brownell quotes ARCA Founder Noah Charney in "New Arms for Fighting Back Against the Looters" (International New York Times, May 8)

ARCA Founder Noah Charney quoted in GINANNE BROWNELL's piece on MAY 8, 2014, "New Arms for Fighting Back Against the Looters" in the International New York Times:
WARSAW, POLAND — The Division of Looted Art at Poland’s Ministry of Culture is a small office with a big mandate. Since 1992, the four-person unit has been charged with collecting and digitizing information about the more than 63,000 objects stolen from the Polish state, churches and private citizens during World War II. Until now, the division’s website was only able to exhibit 3,000 of the objects. Thanks to an upgrade and reintroduction in March, today almost 14,000 lost pieces — including Raphael’s “Portrait of a Young Man,” taken by the Nazis from a family collection in Krakow — will have a virtual home. 
“The Internet has become the main source of finding information on Polish looted art,” said Karina Chabowska, an employee, seated next to several filing cabinets full of photographs and files about stolen works waiting to be uploaded. “The new site will be important to exchange information with auction houses, with people from museums and also to give them some tips of what to do if they find pieces of art that could have been looted or stolen from Poland.” 
Technology has given new impetus to the search for lost and stolen art. Through projects ranging from websites to digital fingerprinting of artworks, governments and organizations are now able to share information and images of missing works widely, allowing the images to be recognized and, it is hoped, returned. 
“For people interested in lost treasure, technology has made it much more likely that we will find things like, for example, locations to excavate to find dozens of other hiding places,” said Noah Charney, an art historian and founder of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. “So technology has made the world both smaller and more transparent.”

April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014 - ,, No comments

FBI Announces Return of 75 paintings by Hanna “Kali” Weynerowska to Poland

"Boy on Donkey" (Courtesy of FBI)
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

The FBI office in San Francisco located paintings by a Polish painter in a storage facility and have been turned over to a Polish museum in Switzerland, the FBI announced in a press release.
Seventy-Five Paintings by Hanna “Kali” Weynerowska Considered Polish Cultural Artifacts, National Treasures ... Hanna Weynerowska, also known as “Kali” in her association with the Polish Underground Resistance during World War II, was a career artist. Following the war, she returned to painting and traveled the world until she immigrated to San Francisco. In 1998, Weynerowska died, but her paintings were being pursued by a museum custodian, but the transfer never occurred. Recently, the paintings were located in a storage facility under safe keeping by a member of Weynerowska’s family. The paintings will be housed and displayed at The Polish Museum in Rapperswil, Switzerland. Notably, “Boy on Donkey,” “Boy with Rooster,” “Pacheco Pass,” “Rafaelito,” “The Cobbler,” and “Walking a Bird” were among the 75 paintings returned.... This investigation was conducted by the FBI San Francisco Field Office and FBI Legal Attaché Office in Warsaw.
Here's the report by Jose Rosato Jr. for NBC Bay Area; he begins with:
By all accounts, Hanna “Kali” Weynerowska led a colorful life – the sort of colorful life she might depict in one of her many paintings. As an up-and-coming painter in her native Poland, she was building something of a name for herself before World War II broke out. Then she was captured by Nazis, escaped from a concentration camp, became a freedom fighter, and eventually made her way to San Francisco, where she continued to paint.

February 4, 2014

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - ,, No comments

San Francisco Chronicle's Sam Whiting on Polish artist Moshe Rynecki's art work and the great-granddaughter's search for her legacy

"Artworks lost in Nazi era at the heart of the hunt" by Sam Whiting for the San Francisco Chronicle covers the subject of Elizabeth Rynecki's search for Polish artist Moshe Rynecki's artwork:
When Holocaust survivor George Rynecki died in 1992, he left a war memoir in the trunk of his car, bequeathing the family legacy to his only grandchild, Elizabeth. "It was like, 'Whoosh,' " recalls Elizabeth Rynecki, who is still feeling the blowback of 700 paintings by her great-grandfather that went missing after the war. She set out to find them, a search that has now taken 22 years and may take 22 more. To continue reading this story, you will need to be a digital subscriber to SFChronicle.com.
 Here's an update on the search as published in the ARCA blog.

December 11, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Update on the search for the oeuvre of Polish artist Moshe Rynecki by his great-granddaughter

Elizabeth Rynecki has written about her search to identify and recover her great-grandfather's oeuvre of art which Moesche Rynecki hid around Warsaw during World War II before he was believed to have perished in the Majdanek concentration camp in 1943 of which is written:
After the Germans destroyed the Warsaw ghetto in spring 1943, SS and police officials deported between 18,000 and 22,000 survivors of the uprising, including women and children, to Majdanek as forced laborers, along with the equipment of some of the Warsaw ghetto workshops. The SS intended that these prisoners would work for the benefit of a new SS-owned labor deployment concern, East Industries, Inc. (Ostindustrie, GmbH). The surviving documentation is insufficient to determine whether and how many of the Jewish survivors of the Warsaw ghetto were killed upon arrival at Majdanek. As many as 3,000 may eventually have been transferred to the Budzyn forced labor camp. 
Here's an article in the Spring issue of The Journal of Art Crime about the loss of works by Moesche Rynecki: 
At the outbreak of the Second World War, my great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943), took his oeuvre of work (about 800 paintings depicting the Jewish community) and divided them into bundles to be hidden in and around the city of Warsaw, Poland. He gave a list of the locations where works were hidden to his wife, son, and daughter, in hopes that after the war the family would retrieve the bundles....After the war, my great-grandmother Perla and her cousin went to see if any of the bundles of the paintings survived. They weren’t very hopeful because of the enormous devastation in and around Warsaw. They found just a single package in the Pragash district, across the river Vistula. The package was in the cellar of a home. As my grandfather George recalls in his memoir:
The people were away, and the paintings, all on paper or parchment, fairly small, were strewn on the basement floor in the cellar. Some damaged, some cut in half with scenes missing. They seemed to have gone through the same fate as the Jewish people – massacred and destroyed. About 12-15 percent of Jews survived the Holocaust. So did my father’s paintings. One hundred and twenty were found out of a count of close to eight hundred works. (G. Rynecki 94)
Here's a link to her blog which updates her journey and work on the documentary Chasing Portraits: A Family's Quest for Their Lost Heritage. This blog post on Nov. 5 tells about the photos of paintings Ms. Rynecki saw in the Otto Schneid archive at the University of Toronto Thomas Fischer Rare Book Library.

Here's on article published on Oct. 31 in The Canadian Jewish News by Fern Smiley (ARCA Alum) "Search for lost pre-World War II art bears fruit in Toronto". Ms. Smiley wrote:
While it’s possible that much of Moshe’s extant oeuvre has been stolen, this can’t be easily proven. Since Moshe’s work was never recorded or catalogued, it’s impossible to prove whether paintings that surface at auctions, for example, came from the bundles. As an art historian, Rynecki can search for her great-grandfather’s paintings, establish relationships with those who have his pieces, and potentially learn the stories that tie all of those who have experienced the work into a larger narrative.
 In return, she receives gifts, and that night at her talk, Prof. Barry Walfish gave her several more. After the questions ended, he raised his hand and explained to Rynecki and the audience that the University of Toronto Library, where Walfish works as a Judaica specialist, holds handwritten letters of her great-grandfather as well as more than a dozen photographs of his paintings. Among them was a photo of the damaged painting she showed during her talk.
In the rain, after a long lecture, Walfish accompanied Rynecki to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, where he opened two archival boxes from the Otto Schneid archives. Schneid, a European-born Polish painter, sculptor and historian, wrote a book on modern Jewish art in the Diaspora. In his research, he solicited autobiographies and photos of artwork from dozens of Jewish artists in Europe, including Moshe. In 1938, after Germany’s annexation of Austria, the printing of his authoritative book by his Viennese publisher was halted by the Nazis. Schneid fled Poland for Palestine, but never saw his book in print. A Hebrew version that he prepared in Israel and was ready for publication in 1957 also never saw the light of day. The unpublished manuscripts, in German and Hebrew, along with all the background material he collected, were gifted to the Fisher Library by his widow, Miriam, in 2002.
Out of the boxed archives came more than a dozen photos of paintings Rynecki had never seen before, including one called Kabbalist and one haunting death-bed scene of Moshe’s own father, as well as the intact photographic reproduction of his watercolour Prayer, and a handwritten letter in Yiddish from Moshe to Schneid, introducing himself, which begins: “I was born an artist…”- See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/opinions/search-lost-pre-wwii-art-bears-fruit-toronto#sthash.e1LphXXJ.dpuf

August 15, 2013

Elizabeth Rynecki on "Lost, Forgotten, Looted or Destroyed: A Great-Granddaughter's Search for her Art Legacy" (The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2013)


In the Spring 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Elizabeth Rynecki writes about "Lost, Forgotten, Looted or Destroyed: A Great-Granddaughter’s Search for her Art Legacy": 
At the outbreak of the Second World War, my great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943), took his oeuvre of work (about 800 paintings depicting the Jewish community) and divided them into bundles to be hidden in and around the city of Warsaw, Poland. He gave a list of the locations where works were hidden to his wife, son, and daughter, in hopes that after the war the family would retrieve the bundles. Unfortunately, Moshe was deported from the Warsaw Ghetto, my family believes to Majdanek, where he perished. His daughter, Bronislawa, was murdered in June 1943 at the entrance to a slum house on Nalewki Street in the Warsaw ghetto. His wife Perla, his son George, and George’s wife Stella and their young son Alex survived the war.
Moshe Rynecki, Krasinski Park, 1930. Oil on Cardboard
After the war, my great-grandmother Perla and her cousin went to see if any of the bundles of the paintings survived. They weren’t very hopeful because of the enormous devastation in and around Warsaw. They found just a single package in the Pragash district, across the river Vistula. The package was in the cellar of a home. As my grandfather George recalls in his memoir: 
The people were away, and the paintings, all on paper or parchment, fairly small, were strewn on the basement floor in the cellar. Some damaged, some cut in half with scenes missing. They seemed to have gone through the same fate as the Jewish people – massacred and destroyed. About 12-15 percent of Jews survived the Holocaust. So did my father’s paintings. One hundred and twenty were found out of a count of close to eight hundred works. (G. Rynecki 94) 
M. Rynecki, The Water Carriers, 1930. Oil on Parchment.
In 1949 my grandfather, grandmother, father, and the paintings left Europe and came to America to start life anew. In his new country, my grandfather treasured those paintings as a physical link both to his father and to a world and way of life that had been destroyed. He proudly repaired those paintings that had been damaged, framed the collection, and displayed them prominently on the walls of his home. 
Elizabeth Rynecki attended Bates College where she studied Rhetoric. She received a master's degree in Rhetoric and Speech Communication at U. C. Davis where her graduate work focused on children of Holocaust survivors and the voice and role of the second generation within Holocaust discourse.

Here's a link to the documentary project: Chasing Portraits: A Family's Quest for Their Lost Heritage.

This article is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by ARCA Founder Noah Charney. The Journal is available electronically and in print via subscription and Amazon.com. The Journal's Associate Editor, Marc Balcells (ARCA '11), is a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.

August 3, 2013

Anna A. Perl on "Poland's Restitution Efforts in the United States" (The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2013)

In the Spring 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Anna A. Perl writes on "Poland's Restitution Efforts in the United States":
During the Second World War Polish public and private art collections suffered tremendous losses due to theft, confiscation, coercive transfer and looting by the Germans and Soviets. The recent restitution efforts undertaken by Poland's government in the United States are presented against a historical background. The article recognizes the difficulties encountered throughout the restitution process, resulting inter alia from large-scale destruction of records, lapse of time, complexities of provenance research, and intersection of international and national legal systems. The analysis examines legal remedies, which are available to original owners pursuing their restitution claims in the United States. The article recognizes the commitment of the US museum community to addressing the issues of unlawfully appropriated art. Examples of recent restitutions from American collections, both public and private, are illustrative of different means, by which resolution of cultural property disputes has proven successful in the last decade.
Anna A. Perl is First Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC. Prior to assuming her current position, she was Deputy Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Poland's Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. From 2001 to 2006, she served as a political officer at the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC. Anna Perl received her master's degrees in law and applied linguistics from the University of Warsaw, Poland. She holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree from the Colombus School of Law of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and is a member of the New York Bar.

Ms. Perl writes in her article:
Any analysis of the efforts to recover works of art lost or displaced during and in the aftermath of World War II should be seen against a historical background. Few countries suffered cultural losses on a scale comparable to that of Poland. The agreement signed in August of 1939 between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and their joint invasion of Poland brought defeat to the county and plunder of its cultural property on a massive and unprecedented scale. The once splendid art collections were destroyed or dispersed due to theft, confiscation, coercive transfer and looting by the Germans and Soviets. The fate of the Warsaw University Library is a case in point. Home to the oldest and most valuable graphics collection in pre-WWII Poland, the Library lost in the years 1939 through 1945 more than 60,000 prints and drawings. Three magnificent pen and ink drawings by Dürer that were housed in this prestigious institution never returned to Warsaw. 
The confiscation of works of art was meticulously planned and implemented with a ruthless precision by the German authorities in the weeks and months following the occupation of Poland. In the early days of October 1939, the German Confiscating Commission arrived in Warsaw to carry out its mission of "safeguarding" Polish culture property. It was responsible for much of the looting carried out on behalf of the Reich. A formal decree of December 16, 1939, issued by Hans Frank, Nazi General Governor of Generalgouvernement, institutionalized the looting and provided a basis for Nazi pillage. The most valuable artworks seized by the Nazis were included into a catalogue known as Sichergestellte Kunstwerke im Generalgouvernement, which governor Frank presented to Hitler in 1940. This "catalogue of plunder" contained descriptions and photographs of 521 masterpieces. Post-war restitution efforts resulted in several returns, yet some of the most treasured artifacts, such as Portrait of a young man by Rafael, or the three pen and ink drawings by Dürer stolen from the Warsaw University Library are still missing.
Ms. Perl's article is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney and published by ARCA, and available electronically (pdf) and in print via subscription and Amazon.com. The Associate Editor is Marc Balcells (ARCA '11), Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.

November 9, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine"

Da Vinci's "Lady
 with an Ermine"
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog editor-in-chief

Leonardo Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine created a sensation with the public in Berlin for the past few months during it's first trip out of Poland since the masterpiece was recovered from the Nazis after the end of World War II.

Today it opened at the National Gallery in London as part of the exhibition, "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan". Conservationists have insisted that once the painting returns from London in February 2012 that it will remain in Krawków for at least ten years (The News.pl).

In 1489, just some 20 years after artists began using oil paints, 37-year-old Da Vinci used oils when his employer, Lodovico "Il Moro" Sforza, the Duke of Milan, commission the Renaissance master to paint his 15-year-old mistress, Cecilia Gallerani, on a 21 by 15 inch walnut wood panel. When "Il Moro" married someone else, Cecilia had to leave the palace but took the portrait with her. "Il Moro gave her a dowry and a castle outside Milan where she spent the rest of her life with her husband Count Pergamino," according to the Czartoryski Museum.

Princess Isabela Czartorska founded the Czartoryski Museum in 1796. Two years later, her son, Prince Adam Jerzy, traveled to Italy and purchased Da Vinci's "The Lady with an Ermine" (and the still missing painting by Raphael "Portrait of a Young Man"). Condemned to death by the Russians after the 1830 November Uprising of the Russian-Polish war, Prince Jerzy fled to Paris, bought The Hotel Lambert, and set up the Living Museum of Poland (displaying all the objects from the first museum).

"Lady with an Ermine", which has only traveled cautiously since its return to Poland after World War II, traveled extensively in escaping to safety throughout various wars.

In 1871, after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Prince Jerzy's son packed or hid all of the museum's objects and fled. In 1874, the city of Krakow offered him a building and four years later the current museum opened.

To protect the works from war in 1914, the most important objects were taken to Dresden by the Czartorska family which continued to manage the museum. The collection was finally restored to the museum in Krakow in 1920.

In August 1939, on the eve of the invasion of Poland, cases of objects were hidden but later found by the Germans. In January 1940, 85 of the most important objects are sent back to Dresden to be part of Hitler's collection at Linz. The paintings went to Berlin then Neuhass before being claimed by the Polish representative at the Allies Commission for the Retrieval of Works of Art on behalf of the Czartoryski Museum (excluding the Raphael and 843 other artefacts).

The communist government operated the museum behind the Iron Curtain until 1991 when the museum was returned to its rightful owner, Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski, who set up a foundation to oversee the museum today.

"The Lady with an Ermine" traveled to Milwaukee Art Museum in 2002 and to Houston and San Francisco in 2003. This year the painting traveled from Madrid to Berlin.