Workshop : “Pillage is formally prohibited…” Provenance Research on East Asian Art

Date : 8-9 Novembre 2019

Lieu : Musée d’art asiatique de Berlin (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Organisateurs : Alexander Hofmann (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), Christine Howald (TEAA-Tracing East Asian Art, Technische Universität Berlin), Nick Pearce (University of Glasgow)

The collecting of art and artefacts from East Asia has been in vogue in the Western world for hundreds of years with the forced opening of China, Japan and Korea from the mid-19th century onwards, creating amarket boom that resulted in thousands of objects entering collections worldwide. China in particular, during the first three decades of the 20th century, became subject to the most intensive spate of collecting on the part of museum institutions and private collectors. In the past 20 years, the movement of these objects and the circumstances of their translocation have been increasingly the focus of curators and scholars investigating purchases related to the politics and market mechanisms under the Nazi regime. Despite research and numerous projects, we still do not know enough about the destiny of significant private collections dispersed between 1933 and 1945, the acquisition policies of museums at this time and the key actors and institutions involved in the art market for East Asian art in the first half of the 20th century. The current international debates aroundthe handling of objects that found their way into museum collections in connection with the colonial period present new challenges for collecting history and provenance research. This includes the revaluation of historical contexts, the reconstruction of looted and displaced collections in East Asia and the layout of a legal or ethical framework to address these issues. Since 2017, German scholars and museum professionals have been meeting annually in Berlin in order to discuss challenges in researching the provenance of objects originating from East Asia, present current projects and discover similarities in collecting practices and object biographies.During these meetings, a strong wish to connect with colleagues from Europe and abroad has been articulated. This year’sworkshopis open to international colleagues. It aims to create a platform for the exchange of ongoing research in the field and connect colleagues from around the worldin a sustainable network.

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