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Castaway Modernism

Basel’s Acquisitions of "Degenerate" Art
Tierschicksale, Franz Mark, 1913
The Kunstmuseum Basel’s department of classic modernism houses one the most prestigious collections of its kind. It was in fact assembled at a comparatively late date. In the summer of 1939 — shortly before the outbreak of World War II — Georg Schmidt (1896–1966), the museum’s director at the time, managed to acquire twenty-one avant-garde masterpieces all at once. The works were among those denounced in 1937 by Nazi cultural policy as “degenerate” and forcibly removed from German museums. The Third Reich’s Ministry of Propaganda correctly assumed that a portion of such works would find buyers abroad and bring in foreign currency. In this way certain artworks deemed “internationally exploitable” reached the art market via various channels.
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St. Alban-Graben 16/20; Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
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