During the Second World War, the Salzkammergut region served as a trading center and rescue location for artworks like no other region in Austria, also including masterpieces of the history of European art. Adolf Hitler stored artwork for his planned Führermuseum in Linz in the Springer tunnel of the Altaussee salt mine. Significant Austrian museums and numerous art handlers used villas and tunnels as places for temporary storage and safekeeping. Works from the Italian Benedictine monastery Monte Cassino were also transferred to the Salzkammergut region in 1944.
The content-based point of departure for the exhibition in Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz are the art storage facilities in St. Agatha, Bad Aussee and Bad Ischl/Lauffen as well as the people who worked in these locations. The later paths of the artworks across the entire world represent the continuation of the “journey”.
In the Kammerhofmuseum Bad Aussee, the lives and achievement of the German art dealer Wolfgang Gurlitt and his Jewish business partner Lilly Christiansen, both of which lived primarily in Bad Aussee from 1944 onward, will be the subject of an exhibition.
In Lauffen, the works and installations of contemporary artists will be used to address the topic of systematic art theft, which has been a known phenomenon since ancient times and represents a means to legitimize cultural domination. The spectrum of the artistic positions presented range from coming to terms with colonial theft, state-planned dispossession in the Third Reich to cultural genocide through the removal and destruction of cultural objects that confer identity.
Two catalog publications will accompany the overall project.