Holz Researches in Moscow

Keith Holz

Keith Holz

Keith Holz, Associate Professor of Art History, Department of Art, is currently researching the voluminous papers of German-Jewish art critic Paul Westheim (1886–1963). Between 1933 and 1940, Westheim, an art critic and art magazine publisher, was the key figure in the Paris-based anti-Nazi German community of exiles in the visual arts. In June 1940, his papers were confiscated in Paris and again in Berlin in 1945 by the Red Army. In 2003, Western scholars first learned that Westheim’s papers were accessible and held at the “Sonderarchiv” [Special Archive], Russian State Military Archives, Moscow.

With encouragement and support from members of the German Forum for Art History (Paris), in early 2010, Holz (the author of two books on exiled visual artists and their artists groups in Paris, Prague, and London) was awarded a grant by the German Historical Institute (Moscow)–a grant designed to facilitate the access of Western scholars to the difficult to use Russian archives. Previously unknown letters by artists including Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Herbert Bayer, as well as Westheim´s Berlin-based, undercover art insider and confidant Charlotte Weidler, are among the hundreds of letters and texts comprising these papers. The GHI fellowship enabled Holz to work four weeks at the archive in May and June 2010, and four additional days at the archive this September in conjunction with a colloquium to which he was invited at the German Historical Institute. He is among twelve participants of a conference to be held June 23-24, 2011 in Moscow, entitled “Comment le second exil restitue la parole du premier. Les archives de Moscou et les arts à Paris 1933-1945,” sponsored by the GHI and the German Forum for Art History (Paris) with funding from the Zeit-Foundation, Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius and Alfried Krupp von Bohlen, and Halbach Foundation.

In November 2010, Holz will deliver a paper developing this research at a conference at Munich’s Institute for Advanced Study, Ludwig-Maximillian-Universität, „Netzwerke des Exils. Künstlerische Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933.“ He is also in ongoing consultations with the Manuscript Collection of the Zentralbibliotek (Zürich) that houses the written legacy of artist Oskar Kokoscha regarding publication of the newly discovered materials and letters related to Oskar Kokoschka.

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