A new exhibition bringing together works from the well documented Lucerne auction in 1939 has been mounted in Liège. On the eve of the Second World War, the Nazi authorities wished to dispose of modern art works that were in the collections and on display in German art galleries and museums, considered “degenerate”by the Third Reich.
In June 1939, they organised a grand auction in Lucerne. This auction, took place on an historic dimension. It offered works by some of the greatest artists of the period: Gauguin, Chagall, Matisse, Kokoschka and even Picasso…The Belgian government was represented at the auction, as was a delegation from Liège that had managed to raise quite a large sum. Belgium acquired several works of art for the museums of Antwerp and Brussels while Liège purchased nine exceptional paintings that today form part of the city’s major collections. Now scattered around the world in prestigious private and public collections, a large number of the works from the auction will be brought together for the first time and exclusively presented at the Cité Miroir in Liège. The exhibition will be enriched by numerous documents evoking the historical context of the auction. The Cité Miroir, a building with an exceptional architectural style, is a new multipurpose cultural venue in the very heart of Liège. It was built in 1939 and has just been fully renovated. This complex housed the Sauvenière public baths and swimming pool. It is now devoted to public and cultural projects. The venue will also host a varied programme of animations, including film screenings, conferences and events related to the exhibition.
On display at the Fine Arts Museum of Liège (BAL). The nine paintings originating from the Lucerne auction will leave the walls of the Museum for six months. During this period they will be replaced by nine other major works that the Liège delegation acquired from renowned art galleries in Paris in August 1939. The Lucerne auction proved to be an excellent deal and the Liège delegation only spent 16.7% of its ‘war chest’ (BEF 834,951.98 out of their available 5 million). Buisseret, Gilbart and Ochs therefore decided to visit Paris in August where they were able to acquire nine paintings of great value: James Ensor (1860-1949): Shells (Coquillages), Othon Friesz (1879-1949): The port of ntwerp (Le port d’ nvers Marcel Gromaire (1892- 1971): Peasant with fagot (Paysan au fagot), Armand Guillaumain (1841-1927): Lock at the Bouchardon Watermill at ro ant (L’ cl se d o lin o chardon ro ant , Jean Picart-Ledoux (1902-1982): Nude (Nu), Paul Signac (1863-1935): Comblat Chateau (Le ch tea de o lat , Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955): The Galette Mill (Le moulin de la Galette), Kees van Dongen (1877-1968): The Violinist (La violoniste), Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958): Red Flowers (Fleurs rouges).