From Weimar to Westwood
In 1956, Fred Grunwald established the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at UCLA. His gift to the university hinged on a promise to donate over a period of years his excellent collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French, German, and American prints.# Born Friedrich Grunewald near Düsseldorf in 1898, Grunwald, a German Jew, immigrated to America with his family in 1939.#He had survived serious injuries in World War I as well as various forms of Nazi persecution, which included the reported seizure and possible destruction of the print collection he assembled prior to 1933. Only after World War II had ended and he was settled in Los Angeles as a successful clothing manufacturer did he return to collecting works on paper, forming the nucleus of the Grunwald Center Collection (figs. 1–2). Now one of the country's most important university print cabinets, the Grunwald Center collection has grown to include more than forty thousand prints, drawings, and photographs that span the Renaissance to the present.
While the basic outlines of Grunwald's story have been part of the Center's narrative from its inception some sixty years ago, recent research has expanded our knowledge of Grunwald's life and collecting activities, particularly with respect to the nature of his first collection and its relationship to his postwar activities.# Thanks to a careful analysis of works in the collection as well as recently uncovered restitution documents and other archival materials presented on this website, we can reconstruct the full scope of Grunwald's collection throughout the course of his lifetime, from its early formation in Weimar Germany to its eventual dispersal after his death. The historical record explored here is at times internally inconsistent. Other discoveries have given new dimension to a historical moment fraught with trauma and questions of accountability. Furthermore, the difficulty of conducting provenance research has been exacerbated by the status of prints as multiples, as the whereabouts of individual impressions are often particularly difficult to track.# Despite these obstacles to our research, a romance of reparations has emerged in which the collection's complex and disputed past prefigures its present state.
Although Grunwald was not a prominent international figure, his struggle ultimately shaped the history of a major American museum collection. This may prove one of the most interesting and distinctive features of Grunwald's collecting history—one that adds an additional layer of complexity to our research, as it appears that neither Grunwald, nor the Nazi authorities who seized the original collection, ever made an inventory of its contents. The reconstruction of the original collection is thus based entirely on postwar accounts, which are likely compromised by memory and personal bias. Grunwald's collecting history also offers a relatively unique case within the extensive literature on World War II–era reparations. Unlike other studies that have emphasized the impact of Nazi racial ideology and profiteering on public art collections, German artists, and high-profile individuals, this study examines the practical impact of Nazi looting on a comparatively modest provincial collector.# It encapsulates the fundamental paradox of much reparations research: often the most flagrant thefts are undocumented.
The biography provided by Grunwald's son, Ernest, offers a fascinating, though imperfect, account of the origins of the Grunwald Collection. Brimming with seedy antagonists and dramatic reversals, Ernest's biography of his father is the most cinematic of the existing sources. While in some respects it is the most detailed, Ernest was misinformed about some aspects of his father's collecting history, which are clarified in greater detail below. According to Ernest, Fred Grunwald was drafted into the German army and served on the western front until 1918, when the bones of his left leg were shattered. Despite two years in the hospital undergoing extensive surgeries, the leg was eventually amputated at the knee. His interest in German graphic arts of the period developed while he was in the hospital, and he responded sympathetically to the frustration they expressed (fig. 3). It was also during this period of convalescence that he met his future wife, Gertrud Löwenstein (Trude to her friends), a young single woman from a wealthy family who volunteered by consoling Jewish veterans. During the early part of his marriage, Grunwald worked for his sister's husband, Hermann Wistinetzki, in Wuppertal, a town about thirty kilometers east of Düsseldorf, and their two children, Ernest and Lotte, were born. In 1930 he established his own business, which prospered into the early years of the Third Reich. It wasn't until 1937 when Grunwald decided that they needed to emigrate after their house was raided and he was questioned by the Gestapo.
By August 1938, the family's possessions and some valuables, including unspecified "pictures," were smuggled into moving crates while the family waited anxiously for the necessary visas. On the morning of November 10, the day after Kristallnacht, Fred was arrested along with more than one hundred other Jewish men from Wuppertal. According to his son's biography, Fred was saved from internment in a concentration camp by a sympathetic Gestapo officer and fellow veteran who, upon seeing his war wounds, not only let him go, but subsequently helped him arrange the release of other detainees. However, according to another surviving witness, who was twenty-two years old at the time, Grunwald was among a group of men transported to Dachau after the arrests.# Though no additional information has surfaced that would clarify these details, Grunwald must have been released shortly thereafter. Finally, after a failed blackmail attempt by a former employee almost thwarted their escape, Fred, Trude, Ernest, and Lotte Grunwald sailed from Hamburg in February 1939.
Ernest Grunwald's biography of his father does not provide many details on Grunwald's first collection; he merely states that, upon his return to civilian life after World War I, his father "built up a modest collection. However, the exigencies of surviving in business during a depression and, later, the Nazi ban on German expressionism limited its development."# Regarding the postwar collection, its genesis is attributed to two events of 1949: the death of Grunwald's first wife, Trude, yet another tragedy that left him in need of solace, and his receipt of restitution money that had to be spent in West Germany, which Ernest mistakenly dates to between roughly 1949 and 1951.#
Ernest acknowledged that his retelling of events, while correct in essentials, relied on what he hoped or assumed rather than knew to be true. He was also somewhat judgmental of his father's late collecting habits, which he dismissed as an eccentricity of old age. Unfortunately, the biography does not provide a great deal of substantive information on his father's early collection beyond a few tantalizing though unsubstantiated suggestions. Other primary and secondary sources, including restitution claims and Grunwald's own correspondence, have allowed us to correct this narrative. They suggest that while Grunwald's postwar collection would prove to be more extensive than whatever he had previously obtained, it was nevertheless intimately reflective of its predecessor in deeply personal ways.
Three sets of documents contain information about the collection Grunwald assembled in Germany. They differ in several particulars. The earliest existing account comes from an essay by Frederick Wight, then director of UCLA's Art Galleries, in the small 1956 publication that celebrated the founding of the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation, as the Grunwald Center was then known. This is Wight's brief account:
He began collecting prints from the day he was out of the hospital, first the work of Käthe Kollwitz, then of Liebermann. At that time, he was also interested in Jaeckel, and Meidner; Gotheim, Orlich, Slevogt, Klinger, Corinth, Hans Meid, and Hans Thoma. He had etchings by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, prints by the American Joseph Pennell. But soon, his interest took another direction and he began collecting Franz Marc and Lehmbruck. Later in the nineteen-twenties he was absorbed in the work of the Expressionists and acquired first Pechstein, then Schmidt-Rottluff and Kirchner. By 1933 he had seven or eight hundred prints. The next year the Nazis seized half of them—the better prints, of course, since they were confiscating the Expressionists, primarily, as "degenerate art."#
While Wight doesn't mention a single actual impression, the list does seem to represent one viable version of what Ernest Grunwald had only summarily referred to as the graphic arts of the period, and works by seventeen of the eighteen artists mentioned by name either currently belong to the Grunwald Center or were represented in Grunwald's collection at his death.# Wight's list of names skews heavily to German artists, and significantly, none of those mentioned are French. It also hints at a certain evolution in Grunwald's early taste. First he discovers Käthe Kollwitz, possibly through her popular political graphics (fig. 4). This spurs him on to a broader investigation of the print medium that tends toward the pastoral and picturesque. This is exemplified by the potato diggers of Max Liebermann (fig. 5), the sensuous landscapes of Hans Meid, works by foreign artists like the American illustrator Joseph Pennell, as well as German artists favored by right-wing elites, such as Hans Thoma.# The works encompass a variety of subjects, including portraits, genre scenes, city and architectural views, and classical and literary themes. Finally, having developed some sensitivity to the print medium, his discovery of figures like Max Pechstein kindles his interest in the more avant-garde printmakers associated with German Expressionism (fig. 6).
While many of the 153 prints and illustrated books by the aforementioned artists that remain in the Grunwald Center's collection can be traced to postwar purchases, it is apparent that as Grunwald matured as a collector he came to recognize and appreciate rarity. His selection of works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, to take just one example, contains some remarkable objects, including an unrecorded state of the artist's color drypoint Two People Seated near a Lamp (fig. 7). On the reverse, there are very faint drypoint impressions of studies of a seated figure and a portrait head (fig. 8). Among the most exceptional rarities are a pair of books that relate to Kirchner's illustrations for Georg Heym's Umbra Vitae, a book of poetry republished in Munich in 1924. This remarkable two-volume work, set in gorgeous green and black Secession-style bindings, presents designs, drawings, and proofs from the 1924 publication inset into its own pages (figs. 9–11).#
The other two accounts of Grunwald's early collection derive from reparations claims that he filed in the late 1950s, and they differ significantly, both from one another and from the list of works discussed thus far. Grunwald's restitution documentation is particularly compelling, and German restitution policy provides an important context for understanding the difficulties he faced in seeking to recuperate his losses. The first restitution legislation passed by the American military government on November 11, 1947, known as Military Law No. 59, became the restitution standard in the occupied zones. It strove to make restitution possible for all ascertainable property that had been taken away on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, or political opposition to the regime. Yet German authorities, frequently the same persons who had implemented the discriminatory measures in the first place, often opposed or attempted to reduce the scale of restitution, which they viewed as a form of arbitrary punishment rather than as fair recompense. Treaty provisions reinstating West German sovereignty placed limits on West Germany's liability for stolen goods that paled in comparison to realistic estimates.
Exacerbating this situation, the Federal Republic of Germany did not pass legislation that included a mechanism for actual payment until 1957. Only then, with the July 15, 1957, amendment to the BRüG, did the government acknowledge liability for Nazi seizures that took place elsewhere in Europe or make restitution possible for lost property.# Even then, claimants had to prove that the loot was taken within or moved to the territory of modern West Germany; East Germany categorically rejected the restitution of private property as anathema to the socialist state. Eastern bloc residents were excluded from West Germany's settlement mechanism until after German reunification decades later.# Furthermore, compensation for persecuted Jews was subject to a strict "material reductionism" by German restitution authorities that required precise listings of individual losses. Like many claimants, Grunwald's restitution claims provided an autobiographical narrative of personal, physical, and financial struggle condensed into a discrete parcel of bank slips and itemized lists.# The process itself was challenging: it took Grunwald and his attorney more than a decade to finalize his settlement while different inquiries and complaints were routed through the labyrinthine German bureaucracy, and some claims were still being litigated after his death.#
According to the initial application filed on Grunwald's behalf, the head of the Gestapo as well as several plainclothes officers arrived at his residence one early morning in May of 1934 or 1935.# They used his membership in the B'nai B'rith lodge as a pretext to search the apartment, arrest him, and secretly remove eight to ten portfolios kept in an antique cabinet in the master bedroom. When Grunwald was released, he realized that roughly four to five hundred sheets from his collection were missing, though the application states that he is unable to provide an itemized list. However, it does note names of artists whose works were seized, including some mentioned above, like Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Franz Marc, as well as listing individual titles, including several by Edvard Munch. The list offers a much more focused account of what was in the collection, hinging almost exclusively on artists associated with either Die Brücke in Dresden or Der Blaue Reiter in Munich. However, even this list is of limited value because details are scant and not all of the named works are securely identifiable.
More, and sometimes contradictory, details emerge in the final paperwork filed in 1960 that marked the resolution of Grunwald's art restitution claim, for which he was awarded 125,000 deutsche marks, at the time equivalent to roughly US $31,000.# This paperwork includes a statement of testimony by Grunwald's former landlord Alice Beitzen which explains that she lived in the same building as the claimant and was familiar with his art collection. The seizure Beitzen witnessed happened in 1934 or 1935. The homes of influential Jews were being searched, and Grunwald was being targeted. Beitzen testified that Grunwald knew this was coming, and warned her in advance, even going so far as to ask if she would open the door for the Gestapo when they arrived. She says, "I can still remember clearly that they came one morning just shortly before seven o'clock. . . . Outside there were three or four people in civilian clothes, who pushed me aside and said, 'Where is the Jew?'"# She followed them upstairs and watched from the next room as they tore the bedroom apart and rummaged in the cabinet where the art was kept. She couldn't see what was removed, but noted that there were three or four thick portfolios under their arms when they left. Later, Grunwald told her that they had only left behind the work by Jewish artists. She couldn't remember who the artists were, admitting, "Even at that time the names of Modern artists were not so familiar to us. Munch and Feininger are names that I still remember."# In Beitzen's account certain details match the initial application—the intimidating physical stature of the Gestapo chief, for example, or the location of the materials in a cabinet in the master bedroom—while others diverge—three or four portfolios are mentioned, for example, not eight or ten.
The second witness testimony is provided by Alex Vömel, a former employee of Alfred Flechtheim who took over Flechtheim's Düsseldorf gallery in 1933.# Vömel recalls that Grunwald was a frequent visitor and patron of Flechtheim, and that he himself had visited Grunwald's house once in 1928. Vömel corroborates what was in the application—that for the most part, Grunwald owned works by Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter artists. However, he also adds, "Of course I cannot now recount all of the particulars that I observed, still I know that the claimant had drawings, woodcuts, etchings and lithographs by Kirchner, Gauguin, Klee, Kollwitz, Kandinsky, Macke, Marc, Otto Mueller, Ensor, Toulouse-Lautrec, Barlach, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Beckmann, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and others" (figs. 12–17).# In addition to the German artists that we might expect to see in Vömel's list, he has added some important French and Belgian Modernists.
Some aspects of this account are problematic. Vömel's list closely resembles the one Grunwald had provided in a recent affidavit, as the nineteen names all appear among the twenty-three listed in Grunwald's affidavit, and in the same order.# The correspondence isn't all that troubling in and of itself—after all, Vömel was writing twenty-five tumultuous years after he could have last encountered Grunwald or his collection—but it suggests that Vömel relied on Grunwald's statement for the particulars of what the latter had owned. This is substantiated by a letter from Karl With to Alex Vömel dated July 25, 1960, in which With, a UCLA art history professor, solicits Vömel to assist Grunwald with his reparations claims. With assures Vömel that Grunwald's claim is not intended for personal enrichment and attempts to jog Vömel's memory of Grunwald's identity:
And as it is possible that you yourself remember him, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that his former name was Fritz Grunewald, that he resided in Elberfeld, and that he was a slightly overweight, witty, and amusing man, who limped a bit because he had lost a leg in the war.#
Vömel's response is no longer extant.# Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that Vömel's existing memory of Grunwald's collection was supplemented with information from the affidavit Grunwald submitted to the German government dated June 23, 1960, just more than one month prior to the date of With's letter.
The dating of the theft—to May of 1934 or 1935—also raises a series of interrelated questions. Within the acknowledged history of Nazi art looting, state-sanctioned seizures of private property were not widespread until after 1938, after the Austrian Anschluss and the passage of severe laws regarding the confiscation of property belonging to Jewish owners in tandem with organized efforts toward their incarceration and extermination.# Dispossessions prior to 1937 were less widespread, though not unheard of, and were often either the result of forced sales due to increased tax burdens or the handiwork of particular individuals who smelled opportunity thanks to the darkening cultural climate.# Grunwald offers a very reasonable justification for his lack of certainty regarding the date—he writes in his affidavit that "twenty-five years, coupled with the difficulties of a Jew in Germany, together with the hardships of emigration and the rebuilding of a new life have severely reduced my memory of the details."# Nevertheless, the only seizure that Ernest mentions occurred in 1937, a significant event that precipitated the family's desire to emigrate but wherein no art was taken.#
Furthermore, in a 1994 video testimonial, "Escape from Germany," Ernest implies that some of his father's restitution claims were opportunistic, and that the family did succeed in smuggling out unnamed "pictures."# However, Ernest's knowledge of his father's collection was not unimpeachable, and there are other factors that could explain this discrepancy. Perhaps Ernest was unaware of, or neglected to mention, a separate seizure that ostensibly occurred when he was ten or eleven years old. Perhaps Fred, who acknowledged that his memory of certain particulars was foggy, misremembered the actual date of the theft, and it in fact occurred in 1937. The lack of available Gestapo records, which were systematically destroyed for most German cities after the war, makes verification virtually impossible. However, it should be noted that the German authorities who awarded money for most but not all of Grunwald's restitution claims were convinced enough to grant him a relatively sizable sum. He was given more than six times as much as the settlement awarded to Alfred Flechtheim, Grunwald's erstwhile dealer and a highly visible target of persecution by Nazi functionaries.#
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Grunwald's 1960 affidavit is the addition of French artists. Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso were not mentioned by Wight at the Grunwald Center's founding. Their addition transforms the ethos of the early collection from something tinged with provincialism into a much more prescient and cosmopolitan endeavor. As will be discussed below, his postwar collecting activities likely shaped his prewar memories in significant ways. Research on the extant works in the Grunwald Center's current collection has not yielded definitive information regarding what may indeed remain from Grunwald's Weimar-era collection. However, given that most of the major Modern French and German Expressionist works in the collection can be traced to postwar sales, it seems provident to take Grunwald at his word and assume that the most valuable impressions he owned were lost.#
Grunwald's postwar collecting was systematic and voracious.# The Parisian firm of Paul Prouté et Ses Fils, which regularly sent him works to review on consignment, became his most important source for new acquisitions in the 1950s. Grunwald met Hubert Prouté, the owner's son, in the early 1950s, likely on a honeymoon trip with his second wife, Saidee Herz Grunwald, and quickly made an impression on the successful dealer.# The pages from Hubert's stockbook demonstrate the evolution of Grunwald's ambitious collection (figs. 18–19). The dotted lines and arrows document its growth from a representative selection of Modern French printmakers into a more nuanced and comprehensive one thanks to a concerted commitment to the work of particular artists, notably Picasso, Renoir, and Jacques Villon. Purchases encompassed artists whose critical fortunes have declined in subsequent decades, such as Henri Georges Adam (French, 1904–1967), who was represented in Grunwald's collection by at least twenty works, as well as artists such as Paul Cézanne, whose relatively small graphic output remains highly celebrated. Grunwald's six Cézanne impressions included three versions of his famous Bathers series, including two impressions—one color, and one black and white—of the large version. Grunwald was clearly aiming to create an exhaustive collection with multiple examples of particularly notable prints. His acquisitions from Prouté spanned the Etching Revival to Surrealism and beyond. They included nineteenth-century works by Félix Bracquemond, Eugène Carrière, Mary Cassatt, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; leading twentieth-century Modernists such as Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, André Masson, Henri Matisse, and Georges Rouault; and more contemporary artists such as Mario Avati, André Fougeron, and Silvio Loffredo. Grunwald's correspondence from the 1950s with Ebria Feinblatt, longtime print curator at LACMA, demonstrates that he was working closely with experts and intended his works to end up in a museum setting.
Concurrent to his dealings with Prouté, Grunwald was reconstituting his late nineteenth- and twentieth-century German collection, working primarily through select German and Swiss dealers such as Ackermann and Sauerwein in Munich, Wolfgang Ketterer in Stuttgart, and Kornfeld and Klipstein in Bern.# Purchases from Ketterer included notable works by German artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Otto Dix as well as the occasional French works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, and Maurice de Vlaminck. His purchases from Ackermann and Sauerwein of more than 140 works by German and Scandinavian artists were of particular quality and interest. They included rare early states, hand-colored impressions, and trial proofs that are among the Grunwald Center's most significant examples of German Modernist graphic art (figs. 20–21).# Despite the importance of the German dealers for the growth of certain areas of his collection, Grunwald appears to have preferred doing business with the Parisians, confessing to Feinblatt that he felt much more comfortable with the reserved cordiality of Prouté than with the false warmth of Ketterer and his Teutonic colleagues.#
Grunwald's postwar collecting was also recuperative, and there are demonstrated instances where works in the Grunwald Center collection correspond conspicuously to items he claimed to have lost. This is true of the Degas print of Mary Cassatt at the Louvre (fig. 22), as well a host of other works: bathing scenes by Kirchner; color woodcuts by Gauguin; works by Kollwitz, including Weavers on the March and Bar in Hamburg; Wassily Kandinsky's Little Worlds series; and at least two dozen other examples (figs. 23–24). The most poignant moment of Grunwald's reconstructive postwar collecting was Otto Mueller's gypsy series. Frederick Wight, as well as the Grunwald Center's founding curator, E. Maurice Bloch, both stated that this series of works celebrated Grunwald's return to collecting after the hiatus induced by exile and war.# They are also among the works enumerated in the 1960 affidavit of what was seized, and the Gypsy Madonna is mentioned by name (fig. 25).# Such images must have had incredible resonance with Grunwald. Mueller was an artist who had been associated with both Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, so would have been very familiar to him.
Like Grunwald, Mueller also suffered a debilitating injury during World War I. Several of Mueller's paintings and one of the lithographs from this group were included in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich in 1937, labeled as avatars of racial and moral depravity and the "Jewish longing for the wilderness."# Looking back from a more stable position, the image of an itinerant family next to a covered wagon must have recalled Grunwald's own experience of exile, even if his emigration involved sailing on a Cunard ocean liner and not bouncing along dirt roads (fig. 26). This work would have carried another layer of meaning for Grunwald, something like what has been ascribed to Albrecht Dürer's Melencolia. According to Bloch, this set of works was a gift from Grunwald's first wife, Trude, who was killed just two years later in an automobile accident.# Her death occurred in 1949, the same year that Grunwald returned to collecting seriously, according to Ernest.# The Mueller print embodies the contiguity between the two phases of the collection. Grunwald was making up for material and nonmaterial losses alike, and his collecting activities in the last two decades of his life must have inflected his recollections of the past.
While attempting to recover his losses, Grunwald's collection also expanded in new directions. Feinblatt acquired a slew of contemporary Italian prints on his behalf in 1955 (fig. 27). Their correspondence demonstrates Grunwald's pragmatism, as his collecting was increasingly entrusted to third parties due to poor health. He wrote to her, "I am very interested in the prints by Morandi. . . . If you feel that they are very high buy just one or two, if you feel they are high you can buy more and if you feel they are not too high you can buy even more."# The 1955 Contemporary Italian Prints exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum (now LACMA) was drawn almost exclusively from Grunwald's collection.# He regularly lent work to exhibitions in and around Southern California, and his collection was featured in two landmark print exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum. Grunwald was a driving force in the 1954 exhibition of Modern German printmaking, and his entire collection was included in the 1955 Renoir retrospective.# Grunwald's desire to make his private collection available to larger, public institutions would shortly become a defining aspect of his legacy.
The growth of Grunwald's postwar print collection and the founding of the Grunwald Center proper coincided with a renaissance in American printmaking, which witnessed the foundation of several important print publishers and printmaking workshops, including the Contemporaries Graphic Art Centre (now Pratt Graphics Center), New York, in 1955; Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York, in 1959; and the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, in 1960.# Grunwald collected American prints extensively. He became a good friend and close supporter of June Wayne and her fledgling Tamarind Lithography Workshop, which helped redefine the medium of lithography for contemporary artists. The first exhibition of Tamarind prints opened at the UCLA Art Galleries in 1962 under the auspices of the Grunwald Center and its founding director, E. Maurice Bloch, and subsequently traveled to ten American cities throughout the Midwest and the West Coast.# Grunwald was also closely associated with the UCLA printmaker John Paul Jones, whose marvelous intaglio prints spurred the Los Angeles print renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s.# He corresponded with Lessing Rosenwald, whose collection forms the basis of the print cabinet at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and maintained close contacts with West Coast dealers such as Jake Zeitlin, O. P. Reed, and R. E. Lewis.# Grunwald became an integral part of the flourishing print culture of Southern California, a phenomenon that in turn laid the foundation for the development of Los Angeles as an independent and cosmopolitan artistic center.
When Grunwald's relationship with the Los Angeles County Museum soured, for reasons that remain subject to speculation, UCLA became the recipient of his generosity.# He established the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation in 1956 with a twofold promise to donate works from his collection on an annual basis, and to leave the remainder to UCLA in his will.# A letter to the university's chancellor heralded Grunwald's gift as "one of the most significant proposals for implementing and enriching the teaching program for the arts and humanities that could come to any University."# E. Maurice Bloch, a newly appointed UCLA professor and former curator at New York's Cooper Union, was appointed to oversee the new center, which was temporarily located in a small closet in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning building and relocated to the Dickson Art Center after Grunwald died.#
At Grunwald's death in 1964 he had donated more than two thousand works. But past is prologue, as they say, and this romance of reparation would not wrap up quite as neatly as Grunwald had intended. He did not actually make a provision for UCLA in his will, so fewer than one hundred works from his estate were given to the foundation; the remainder was divided up between his children and second wife.# While his heirs donated many of the works bequeathed to them and remained major supporters of the fledgling institution, an important group of approximately sixty works was sold by his widow, Saidee, after 1977 through the San Francisco dealer R. E. Lewis.# Of the fifty-three Renoirs that he had purchased through Prouté, a complete representation of the artist's printed works, the Grunwald Center retained only one (fig. 28).
Nevertheless, this tale of loss and restitution has a happy ending. The 3,236 works gifted to the Center from Grunwald's collection balance incredible range with areas of significant depth and offer a rich testimony of a remarkable lifetime of collecting. Prints from Grunwald's collection have been featured in countless scholarly publications and are continually loaned to major museums across the country. The Grunwald Center provided a model for other institutions, like LACMA's Robert Gore Rifkind Center, and it remains a vital resource for students, scholars, and the general public. Today, more than fifty years since the Grunwald Center's founding, Fred Grunwald's legacy continues to flourish.
Grunwald's gift offer was first recorded in a letter from Gibson Danes, chair of the Art Department, and Frederick Wight, director of the University Art Galleries, dated January 25, 1956. An amended version of Grunwald's original proposal, which stipulated that Grunwald would include a provision in his will to ensure completion of the plan, was dated March 5, 1956, and the gift was formally accepted by the UCLA regents on June 22, 1956 (according to a handwritten note on a letter from Raymond Allen to Robert Sproul, June 7, 1956). The institution's original name, the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation, was changed in October 1972 to the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts with the consent of the Grunwald family. See letter from Charles Young to Saidee Grunwald, Ernest Grunwald, and Stanley Talpis, October 19, 1972. Key Documents File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.
For the sake of simplicity, I will call him Fred Grunwald throughout this essay.
This research has been carried out thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of digital initiatives related to the Hammer Museum's collections and exhibitions. The research team included the author, Cynthia Burlingham (director, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts and deputy director for curatorial affairs, Hammer Museum), Philip Leers (Andrew W. Mellon Project Manager for Digital Initiatives), Kirk Nickel (2015–16 Grunwald curatorial fellow), Peter Fox (2016–17 Grunwald curatorial fellow), and Maia Woolner (PhD student in the UCLA Department of History). The author also wishes to thank the scholars, curators, and archivists who offered generous research advice and assistance in the early stages of our undertaking, including Carol Togneri, Amy Walsh, Tim Benson, Andrea Gyorody, Naoko Takahatake, Claudine Dixon, Jessica Gambling, Julia Armstrong-Totten, and Jonathan Petropoulos; and to thank Freyda Spira and Elizabeth Rudy, who included an earlier version of this paper in their panel "The Art of Collecting" at the 2016 College Art Association conference. A very special thank you goes to Fred and Saidee Grunwald's grandchildren and their families, particularly Peggy Cooper, Allan and Carol Lewandowski, and Trude Lisagor, for their contributions to our research.
Because of their fragility and lower value compared to painting and sculpture, looted works on paper were less likely to survive Nazi purges. Olaf Peters and Jonathan Petropoulos estimate that of the roughly twenty-two thousand (predominantly graphic) works removed from German museums, around a quarter to a third were destroyed. Olaf Peters, "Genesis, Conception, and Consequences: The 'Entartete Kunst' Exhibition in Munich in 1937," in Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937, ed. Olaf Peters (New York: Prestel and Neue Galerie, 2014), 119; Jonathan Petropoulos, "From Lucerne to Washington, DC: 'Degenerate Art' and the Question of Restitution," in ibid., 283. Provenance research is particularly difficult for works on paper as, in the absence of identifying collectors' marks, the ownership of individual impressions of any single print is virtually impossible to determine.
See for example Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (New York: Random House, 1994), for an overview of Nazi looting and cultural appropriation throughout the continent. Others have explored artistic anti-Semitism and accusations of economic and cultural parasitism against German Jews and Modern artists. See Alan E. Steinweis, "Anti-Semitism and the Arts in Nazi Ideology and Policy," in The Arts in Nazi Germany: Continuity, Conformity, Change, ed. Jonathan Huener and Francis R. Nicosia (New York: Berghahn, 2006), 15–30; Olaf Peters, Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937; and the landmark early study edited by Stephanie Barron, "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991). For individual case studies, see Jonathan Petropoulos, "The Art World in Nazi Germany: Choices, Rationalization, and Justice," in The Arts in Nazi Germany, 135–54; Melissa Müller and Monica Tatzkow, Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest For Justice (New York: Vendome, 2010).
Ulrich Föhse, "Erst Mensch, dann Untermensch: Der Weg der jüdischen Wuppertaler in den Holocaust," in Wuppertal in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, ed. Klaus Goebel (Wuppertal: Peter Hammer, 1984), 74.
Ernest Grunwald, The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald, 44, in this digital archive.
It is highly unlikely that Grunwald would have received restitution money this early, given that mechanisms for financial restitution to Jews were not formally instituted within Germany until 1957. See notes 13, 14 and 15 below. Furthermore, no settlements for restitution claims exist within the available documentation until that year, when Grunwald received compensation for lost income due to racial persecution. See restitution decision dated December 30, 1957, Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf.
Frederick Wight, "The Grunwald Collection," in An Exhibition of Master Prints (Los Angeles: Dickson Art Center, University of California at Los Angeles, 1956), n.p.
See the Probate Records and Art sections of this website.
Jonathan Petropoulos, "The Art World in Nazi Germany," 136.
For more on this text, see Peter Fox's essay.
The BRüG is commonly known by its acronym; the full title is Bundesgesetz zur Regelung der rückerstattungsrechtlichen Geldverbindlichkeiten des Deutschen Reichs und gleichgestellter Rechtsträger (Federal Law on the Settlement of the Reimbursement Liabilities of the German Reich and Related Legal Entities).
Jürgen Lillteicher, "West Germany and the Restitution of Jewish Property in Europe," in Robbery and Restitution: The Conflict over Jewish Property in Europe, ed. Martin Dean, Constantin Goschler, and Philipp Ther (New York: Berghan, 2007), 101–6. See also Constantine Goshler, "Jewish Property and the Politics of Restitution in Germany after 1945," in ibid., 113–33.
Frank Bajohr, "Aryanization and Restitution in Germany," in Robbery and Restitution, 46.
The earliest evidence of an outstanding claim on Grunwald's behalf against the German government is documented in an index card file of State Department files that have since been destroyed. It refers to a letter of June 17, 1948. Index Card 462.11, General Records of the Department of State, Decimal File, Box no. 183, National Archives and Record Administration, College Park, Maryland. Los Angeles County Court documents filed on September 19, 1967, by Hyman Smith, the executor of Grunwald's estate, on behalf of his widow Saidee Gruwald and his son Ernest mention three outstanding claims against the West German government: one to recover the value of Grunwald's lost art collection, one for medical expenses, and another to recover damages for loss of profession. Microfilm probate documents relating to Fred Grunwald, Los Angeles Archives and Records Center. We have found only one piece of documentation pertaining to posthumous claims, however: the Wuppertal Stadtarchiv preserves a decision (labeled ZK 436579 and dated to July 20, 1966) denying Saidee Grunwald's claim for restitution based on Grunwald's heart condition.
The inherent difficulty and laboriousness of the restitution process, which often pitted Jewish former property owners against "Aryanizers" in scenarios that reenacted and affirmed, rather than reversed, the original outcome of Aryanization, is described in Frank Bajohr, "Aryanization and Restitution in Germany," 48–49.
Attachment to restitution application signed and dated by Fred Grunwald on December 19, 1958. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
Restitution settlement dated September 30, 1960. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
Ibid., translation by Kirk Nickel.
Ibid., translation by Kirk Nickel.
According to Jonathan Petropoulos, "Vömel's takeover of Flechtheim's Dusseldorf gallery should be viewed as a kind of 'Aryanization.' Transfer of the Dusseldorf branch away from Flechtheim under duress is a strong indication that something similar occurred with regards to his Berlin gallery." Quoted in William D. Cohan, "MoMA's Problematic Provenances," ARTnews, November 17, 2011, http://www.artnews.com/2011/11/17/momas-problematic-provenances/. See also Jonathan Petropoulos, Artists under Hitler: Collaboration and Survival in Nazi Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 147, 173, 174, 326; Andreas Hüneke, "On the Trail of Missing Masterpieces: Modern Art from German Collections," in "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, 122. The assertion that Vömel "Aryanized"—that is, forcibly expropriated—Flechtheim's gallery has recently been subject to revision by scholars within Germany, however, who have pointed out that while Vömel took over the physical premises and sold some of Flechtheim's stock to pay off his former employer's debts, the transfer was not the result of the 1938 legislation that required Jewish business owners to transfer all assets to non-Jewish parties. In fact, the liquidation of Flechtheim's gallery began in 1933 due to bankruptcy. While Vömel was a member of the Sturmabteilung (the Nazi paramilitary group informally referred to as the Brown Shirts) and later the Nazi party, he was also a defender of Modern art and remained in contact with Flechtheim after the latter fled to England. This may explain why Vömel was motivated to assist with Grunwald's restitution case. See Axel Drecoll and Anja Deutsch, "Fragen, Probleme, Perspektiven—Zur 'Arisierung' der Kunsthandlung Alfred Flechtheim," in Alfred Flechtheim: Raubkunst und Restitution, ed. Andrea Bambi and Axel Drecoll (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2015), 83–99; Gesa Jeuthe, "Die Galerie Alex Vömel ab 1933—Eine 'Tarnung' der Galerie Alfred Flechtheim?," in ibid., 107–14. However, it should also be noted that there is an inherent ambiguity in the term, as it sometimes refers to the process by which Jewish gallery owners were informally coerced into leaving their German businesses before it became a legal requirement, in part as a result of the Nazi assault on Modern art as a manifestation of racial and social degeneracy. Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding sales of art or other forms of capital in this time period are frequently disputed.
Restitution settlement dated September 30, 1960. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
Affidavit signed by Fred Grunwald, June 23, 1960. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
Karl With papers, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, translation by Kirk Nickel.
An August 31, 1961, telegram from Vömel to Grunwald declining a party invitation suggests that the two men maintained at least a casual acquaintance after their mutual introduction through With. Karl With papers, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute.
For a discussion of the radicalization of Nazi cultural policy and related confiscations, see Stephanie Barron, "1937: Modern Art and Politics in Prewar Germany," in "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, 9–23; Jonathan Petropoulos, Art as Politics in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 75–94; Jonathan Petropoulos, "From Lucerne to Washington, DC: 'Degenerate Art' and the Question of Restitution," 286.
Nancy Yelde, Konstantin Akinsha, and Amy Walsh, The AAM Guide to Provenance Research (Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2001), 50. The persecution of publisher, modern art enthusiast, and accused "cultural Bolshevik" Paul Westheim, who fled to Paris in 1933, is a case in point; see Melissa Müller and Monica Tatzkow, Lost Lives, Lost Art, 28–43.
Affidavit signed by Fred Grunwald, June 23, 1960. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin, translation by Kirk Nickel.
Ernest Grunwald, The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald, 12.
Ernest Grunwald, Grunwald Family Story: Escape from Germany (1992), DVD.
Christoph Zuschlag, "An 'Educational Exhibition': The Precursors of Entartete Kunst and Its Individual Venues," in "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, 91–92; Dagmar Grimm, "Karl Hofer," in ibid., 255. Alfred Flechtheim's heir Henry Hulton received only 20,400 deutsche marks for property that had been stolen from Flechtheim's widow. In that May 1954 decision, the Berlin District Court estimated the value of the paintings by such world-renowned artists as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Klee, and George Grosz at 8,000 deutsche marks. Michael Sontheimer, "Inside Germany's Most Complicated Art Restitution Battle," Spiegel Online, July 5, 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/flechtheim-heirs-wage-restitution-battle-with-german-museums-a-841477.html.
Fred Grunwald's statement from the June 21, 1960, affidavit notes that only the works by Jewish artists, such as Leo Lesser Ury, Ernst Oppler, Hermann Struck, and Max Liebermann, and lesser artists like Adolf Schinnerer and Peter von Halm, were not seized. See Grunwald restitution claims at the Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
"[Fred Grunwald] was a scholar in the sense that he had a very creative approach to collecting—another reason why I was so anxious to keep the collection intact as far as I possibly could. Because it had a beginning and it had a middle and it had an end. It was not collecting at will; it was all done with very clear intent and with very secure knowledge of what he was doing." E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Conversation between Cynthia Burlingham and Hubert Prouté, Paris, November 24, 2015.
Bloch suggests that Fred Grunwald primarily collected in Berlin, a suggestion echoed by Ernest in his biography; however, we have found no documentary evidence of Grunwald's collecting activities there. E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Several dozen works in the collection all bear an inscription in the same hand, usually in the same location on each print (the lower-left corner of the verso), using the same format. It begins with the last name of the artist, separated from the title of the work by a colon, and followed by a period. Then a brief description of the technique is given, usually abbreviated ("Rad." for etchings, "Holschnitz" for woodcuts, et cetera). Abbreviated catalogue raisonné information ("Sch. VV," for example) follows, as well as additional notes regarding the individual impression. The group comprises works by Lovis Corinth, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Hans Meid, Edvard Munch, Max Pechstein, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Key works in this group are listed on extant invoices from Ackermann and Sauerwein in the Grunwald Center files, suggesting a common source for all of the works.
May 1955 letter from Fred and Saidee Grunwald. See Grunwald's correspondence with Ebria Feinblatt.
E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research; Frederick Wight, "The Grunwald Collection," n.p.
Affidavit signed by Fred Grunwald, June 23, 1960. Federal Bureau for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV), Berlin.
Dagmar Grimm, "Otto Mueller," in "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, 307–8; Peter Guenther, "Three Days in Munich, July 1937," in ibid., 40; Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, "Entartete Kunst, Munich 1937: A Reconstruction," in ibid., 44, 56–57.
E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Ernest Grunwald, The Life and Graphic Arts Collection of Fred Grunwald, 44.
Letter from Fred Grunwald to Ebria Feinblatt dated April 19, 1955. Ebria Feinblatt papers, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Archives.
Ebria Feinblatt, Contemporary Italian Prints: A Loan Exhibition (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum, 1955).
Frederick Wight to Raymond Allen, undated letter. Key Document File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. See also A. M., "At County Museum: German Expressionist Prints, Work of John and Sicard on Exhibit," Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1954, E7; and "Renoir Exhibit to Open in Museum Thursday: Local Collector Makes Possible First Complete Showing of Frenchman's Prints," Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1955, A11.
Clinton Adams, "East Coast, West Coast: Tamarind Lithography Workshop and the American Print Establishment," Print Quarterly 14, no. 3 (September 1997): 252–83; Leah Lehmbeck, "The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California: An Introduction," in Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California, ed. Leah Lehmbeck (Los Angeles: Norton Simon Museum, 2011), 10–45; David Acton, "Printmaking Communities in Southern California, 1900–1960," in ibid.; E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript sections 1.5 and 1.9, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Clinton Adams, "East Coast, West Coast," 273–75; Leah Lehmbeck, "The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California: An Introduction," 14–31.
E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.6, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
For more on the community of print enthusiasts to which Grunwald belonged, see the transcript of the eulogy delivered by Jake Zeitlin at the opening of the 1966 Grunwald memorial exhibition. Jake Zeitlin Personal Papers, Box 14, f. 33, UCLA Special Collections, Los Angeles. Grunwald encloses two letters from Lessing Rosenwald (no longer extant) in a January 5, 1955, letter to Ebria Feinblatt. Ebria Feinblatt papers, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Archives.
According to Maurice Bloch, Grunwald decided to find a new home for his collection after his wife Saidee was snubbed by the then-head of the Los Angeles County Museum at a party, though Bloch also notes that Grunwald's friendship with UCLA professor Karl With was instrumental in Grunwald's decision to relocate his collection to UCLA. E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript sections 1.4 and 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research. It should be noted that LACMA's print collection nevertheless includes 479 gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Grunwald donated between 1953 and 1955. By far the largest concentration of these are nineteenth-century caricatures and illustrations, predominantly by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki and Daniel Berger, with additional examples by Paul Gavarni and Nicolas Toussaint Charlet. There are also a few dozen works by nineteenth- and twentieth-century French, German, and Italian, and American artists such as Renato Birolli, Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Louis Forain, Max Pechstein, Corita Kent, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Jean Veber, among others.
See note 1 above. See also Frederick Wight to Raymond Allen, undated letter. Key Document File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.
Gibson A. Danes and Frederick S. Wight to Raymond Allen, January 25, 1956. Key Document File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.
E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript sections 1.5 and 1.6, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Grunwald was assessing the potential negative tax impact of the UCLA gift on his heirs as early as 1956, as evidenced by correspondence regarding his estate planning between the university's endowment counsel Vernon Smith, Chancellor Allen, and Grunwald himself, and this difficulty may explain why the provision was ultimately never created. See Vernon Smith to Raymond Allen, March 22, 1956; Raymond Allen to Fred Grunwald, March 29, 1956; and Fred Grunwald to Ray Allen, April 3, 1956. Key Documents File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. On the "gentlemen's agreement" between UCLA and Grunwald and the eventual disposition of the collection, see also E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript sections 1.5, 1.11, and 1.12, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research.
Maurice Bloch to Charles Speroni, May 29, 1977. Key Documents File, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. See also E. Maurice Bloch oral history, transcript section 1.5, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research. Handwritten annotations bearing the letters "GS" followed by a number in copies of R.E. Lewis sales catalogs from 1977 and 1978 preserved on microfilm at the Archives of American Art appear to refer to objects sold at Saidee Grunwald's behest. This group includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Villon, Berthe Morisot, Erich Heckel, Kollwitz, Rouault, and Jean Paul Dubray (called "Le Savant"). These initials are subject to confusion – an impression of Kirchner's The Gull Hunter (1913) in the collection of the National Gallery of Art is cataloged as bearing the inscription "ES 39" but likely refers instead to the Saidee Grunwald designation: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.154339.html