German Exhibit Celebrating Holocaust-era Art Dealer Reinstated After Last Month's Cancellation

Max Stern took over his late father’s art gallery in Dusseldorf in 1934 until the Nazis made it illegal for Jews to sell art

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A memorial 'stepping stone' to Holocaust-era art dealer Max Stern in Dusseldorf, Germany.
A memorial 'stepping stone' to Holocaust-era art dealer Max Stern in Dusseldorf, Germany.Credit: Harald Malte Schwarz / Wikimedia Commons
JTA
JTA

A planned exhibit about world-renowned Jewish Montreal art dealer Max Stern has been reinstated by the mayor of Dusseldorf, Germany, after he canceled it last month.

Due to open in February after more than three years of planning by Dusseldorf’s Stadtmuseum, the exhibit – titled “Max Stern: from Dusseldorf to Montreal” – also was slated to include a stop in Israel before finishing in Montreal.

At the time of the November cancellation, German city officials cited “current demands for information and restitution in Germany” as the reason for the exhibit’s abrupt cancellation.

The exhibit will now go ahead in a “more complete and revised form” at a later date, the city said in a statement. It will now take place in the Stadtmuseum with an additional, yet-to-be-appointed curator and a “scholarly advisory board,” the city statement said. Mayor Thomas Geisel told the New York Times that the target date for the revised exhibition is October 2018. The city also is planning an international symposium about Stern to “offer a forum for research on the subject and to discuss possible forms of communicating and documenting it.”

A native of Dusseldorf, Stern took over his late father’s art gallery there in 1934 until the Nazis made it illegal for Jews to sell art. During this period, the Nazis looted hundreds of valuable artworks from his gallery.

Stern soon left Germany and settled in Montreal, where he established the renowned Dominion Gallery.

Following his death in 1987, Concordia became the base for the Max Stern Art Restitution Project, which uses funds left by his estate to Montreal’s Concordia and McGill universities and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to seek out and recover gallery artworks stolen by the Nazis.

To date, 16 have been recovered and returned to their rightful owners, with hundreds still unaccounted for.

The list of Stern gallery artworks includes some works in the collection of the Stadtmuseum and the city of Düsseldorf.

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