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Miriam Cahn To Pull Out From Kunsthaus Zurich After Nazi-Collection Controversy

Artist Miriam Cahn has announced to remove her artworks from Kunsthaus Zurich after the museum announced its Bührle Collection.

In an open letter, Miriam Cahn wrote to the museum informing about her decision and her views on the matter. She wrote: “I no longer want to be represented in ‘this’ art museum in Zurich. I wish to remove all my works from the Zurich Art Museum. I will buy them back at the original sale price.” The letter was later published by the newspaper Tachles.

The Bührle Collection is the collection of artworks of Emil Georg Bührle. Bührle is infamous for selling weapons to the Nazi government during the war, as well as profiting enormously from the slave labor that was common in Nazi Germany. Through this war profiteering, Bührle amassed a fortune and used it to create a vast collection of art. Many of these works were looted, while many others were sold under duress by their Jewish owners. After the wars, many such works were ruled by the courts to be returned to their original owners. Still, many see the Bührle Collection in a negative light.

Kunsthaus Zürich - Wikipedia
Kunsthaus Zurich

The Bührle Foundation, which maintained the collection, started seeking host galleries after the theft of four works in 2008. In 2012, Kunsthaus Zurich entered negotiations to acquire the collection through a loan agreement. However, the first wave of protests emerged in 2016 when the museum announced a new wing for hosting the collection. The museum continued nonetheless and planned to launch the collection in its new wing in early 2022.

Miriam Cahn is a renowned artist known for her feminist approach to art. Her cutting ties from the museum could lead to fresh protests against the collection. This is not the first time Cahn has pulled works on principle; in 1982 she removed her works from Documenta 7 after being allegedly mistreated by the museum’s director.