Sunday, July 17, 2011

Alfred Flechtheim Scandal at Museum of Modern Art - MoMA - Continues

I reported previously that the MoMA published a catalog called German Expressionism:The Graphic Impulse by Starr Figura that COMPLETELY eliminated mention of Alfred Flechtheim.

Image of Rudolph Belling's sculpture Portrait of Alfred Flechtheim (1927)
More on Alfred Flechtheim and MoMA's attempts to write him out of art history hereand here

MoMA has perpetrated the fiction that Alfred Flechtheim's gallery was not Aryanized in 1933 because MoMA wishes to shield its collection, particularly the items that were stolen from Alfred Flechtheim, from public scrutiny.   More information on the Nazi taking of Flechtheim's inventory here.

MoMA's website does not even show an image of Belling's Portrait of Alfred Flechtheim, and the MoMA has never told the story of Flechtheim's role as a Nazi persecutee story here.
But after the scandal of publishing the German Expressionism catalog that pretends Flechtheim does not exist, MoMA's website now shows 28 works that it claims were published by Alfred Flechtheim:

That's just completely ridiculous, MoMA's collection has many more works from Flechtheim's 1933 inventory.   As I argued here the provenance of Paul Klee's Pastorale shows that it was likely taken by the Nazi Alexander Voemel from Flechtheim in 1933.

Pastorale (Rhythms) (1927)
Paul Klee (German, born Switzerland. 1879-1940)

1927. Tempera on canvas mounted on wood, 27 1/4 x 20 5/8" (69.3 x 52.4 cm). Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund and exchange

Collection work meeting criteria specified in Introduction.


Rudolf Probst (Galerie Neue Kunst Fides; Das Kunsthaus), Dresden/Mannheim. Until 1928

Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin and Düsseldorf, then in London. 1928 – at least 1930 [likely until Flechthem’s death, in March 1937]

(J. B. Neumann (Jsrael Ber Neumann), New York. 1930. Agent for Flechtheim)

(Alex Vömel, Dusseldorf. Former Flechtheim Gallery, became Alex Vömel Gallery from March 1933. [Likely on consignement from Flechtheim, 1933 – 1934])

James Mayor Gallery, London. [Brought to London by Flechtheim when he started to work for the Mayor Gallery, c. 1934.] 1934 – 1935

For sale during Paul Klee exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel, 1935

(Paul Klee, Bern. Returned to him from above exhibition, unsold, 1935)

[Likely returned by Klee to Flechtheim in London]

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paris. [Likely acquired/on consignment from Flechtheim] by 1937 - by 1939

Mrs. Stanley B. Resor, New York. By 1941

Nierendorf Gallery (Karl Nierendorf), New York (New York gallery opened in 1937). Acquired from Stanley B. Resor, by 1945

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired from Nierendorf through Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund and exchange, 1945

And astonishingly, after publishing a catalogue for a 2011 German Expressionism exhibition that pretends Flechtheim did not exist, MoMA's website now has the following:
Alfred Flechtheim


Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011

Alfred Flechtheim opened his gallery in 1913, with sponsorship from Paul Cassirer. Became known as the leading dealer in Germany for modern French art, much of it obtained through his friend Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the eminent Parisian gallerist and German émigré. Despite his ambivalence toward contemporary German art, eventually also exhibited a select number of Expressionist, Bauhaus, and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists, including Ernst Barlach, Max Beckmann, George Grosz (under contract from 1925 to 1931), Paul Klee (whom he represented from 1927 to 1933), Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and August Macke. Published prints by Grosz, Else Lasker-Schüler, Ludwig Meidner, and many other now less familiar German artists. In 1921 began to issue the cosmopolitan art and culture periodical Der Querschnitt; three years later, sold it to the publishing house Propyläen. Highly successful, particularly in the postwar years, moved his primary operation to Berlin in 1921, and opened branches in Frankfurt and Cologne in 1922. A victim of Nazi anti-Semitism, was forced to emigrate in 1933, and died, impoverished, in London in 1937.

Selected Bibliography

Jentsch, Ralph. Alfred Flechtheim und George Grosz. Bonn: Weidle, 2008.

Peters, Hans Albert, and Stephan von Wiese, eds. Alfred Flechtheim, Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger. Exh. cat. Düsseldorf: Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, 1987.

Iris Schmeisser

So it looks like MoMA's website is trying to make it look as if Starr Figura, the one who wrote the catalog that eliminated any mention of Flechtheim, actually did include mention of Flechtheim, but MoMA hired Iris Schmeisser to write the Website's description of Flechtheim.

Alfred Flechtheim's influence on MoMA in its first year of existence was tremendous and remains undocumented by MoMA's pseudo-art historians.  Why doesn't MoMA acknowledge its intellectual and artistic debt to Flechtheim?   And what happens to someone who writes a catalog on German Expressionism who calls Flechtheim AMBIVALENT towards German contemporary art when indeed he was perhaps one of its greatest champions?

Just look at Rudolph Belling's portrait of Alfred Flechtheim, one of which he gave to Harvard to launch what became the Busch-Reisinger collection.   Does that reflect AMBIVALENCE toward German contemporary art?   Why is Belling's sculpture featuring Flechtheim's nose not front and center in the German Expressionism exhibit?

Where the hell is Flechtheim's nose?

Flechtheim's assistant, Curt Valentin, became a Nazi agent and sold massive quantities of Nazi-looted art onto the U.S. market.   Story here

The Belling sculpture of Flechtheim was a "gift" of Curt Valentin to MoMA:

Why won't MoMA photograph and exhibit this artwork?
 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

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