Dusseldorf cancels exhibition dedicated to Jewish art dealer Max Stern

Stern was forced to leave Germany empty-handed in 1937


Supporters have expressed shock at a sudden decision to cancel Germany’s first exhibition dedicated a Jewish art dealer whose paintings were confiscated by the Nazis.

The show in Dusseldorf to celebrate Max Stern, who was born in the city, was due to open next February.

Stern, who represented such artists as Wassily Kandinsky, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin, was forced to leave Germany empty-handed in 1937.

The last minute move to scrap the show has triggered distress among Stern’s supporters, including sponsors in Israel and Canada.

The decision was influenced by restitution demands in German museums relating to the Stern gallery, the Art Newspaper reported.

But organisers rejected this, insisting the exhibition would have featured Stern’s life and work and not focused on current restitution claims. The city will hold an international symposium on Stern’s legacy next autumn. 

Dusseldorf’s Stadtmuseum was scheduled as the exhibition’s first stop before it move to Haifa in September and in Montreal in 2019.

Oded Horowitz, president of Dusseldorf’s Jewish Community, believed the cancellation was connected to “fears on the part of the city that some of these works will have to be returned to the heirs of the rightful owners, but obviously the wish is to avoid this.”

London’s Ben Uri Art Gallery has already extensively toured an exhibition entitled “Auction 392: Reclaiming the Galerie Stern Dusseldorf” to highlight the lost collection of the prominent art dealer.

Stern was given 17 days in 1937 to leave Germany with nothing but a small suitcase. His collection was forcibly sold at auction in Cologne.

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