In recent years the question of the history and provenance of works of art has become a matter of increased public awareness. The interest in former owners, exhibition histories, and provenance, in particular during the years 1933-1945, has grown immensely. Thus one of the functions of museums is of course not only to research the provenances and histories of works, but also to present the results of this research to the public.
Rounding out a three-year provenance research project, the exhibition ‘The Lives of Images’ recounts the hitherto unknown biographies of exhibited paintings, drawings and sculptures, among other works, by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. The exhibition is divided into five thematic chapters: Art dealers and collectors, Nazi-era art looting in France: Alphonse Kann and Paul Rosenberg, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Picasso’s milieu, Paul Klee in the USA.
Biographies of selected artworks illustrate each topic area. The methodical work of provenance researchers is demonstrated, among other things, by presenting the reverse side of a work to reveal evidence of its provenance. All of the works that have been the subject of research are provided with labels outlining the chain of provenance. The exhibition focuses on works’ provenance and history of ownership prior to 1945.