In 2008 the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum published a catalogue of the paintings the museum has ‘lost’ in the course of its existence. This volume, as part of the series of collection catalogues, forms an essential contribution to the history of the collection which is not only defined by the works that have been added to it through the decades but also by the losses in a decisive way – an issue one tends to forget.
The project was performed in accordance with an initiative by the “Kulturstiftung der Länder” to research and document (post-)war losses of museums in Germany, especially the so-called ‘Beutekunst’ (looted art/ trophy art). Moreover the catalogue includes the paintings – as far as they are documented through archival information - that have been destroyed, stolen, officially sold or exchanged for other works of art, as well as those that were taken in as „entartet“ during the Third Reich era.
The catalogue was accompanied by an exhibition (September 2008 - February 2009), which presented about 80 of the lost paintings in 1:1 scale photographs. This selection was complemented by pendant paintings still remaining in the museum and singular works on loan from their – by then – lawful owners.
Only in November 2008 it became known that the museum in Simferopol, the Ukraine, had already been showing 87 paintings as works from the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum for several months; in fact, as has been established, at least 74 originate from Aachen, some of the remaining paintings from other German institutions. These works are by now purpose of official negotiations between Germany and the Ukraine.
End of January 2009 a symposium on “Beutekunst” was held at the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum. The lectures by representatives of German museums suffering from looted art and by exponents from different fields like diplomacy, law, art trade and journalism were published in 2010 as „Schattengalerie – Symposium zur Beutekunst. Forschung, Recht und Praxis“. The appendix of this volume documents the paintings that turned-up in Simferopol, the Ukraine.
This project was supported by