CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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Exiled Work of Art/Kidnapped Work of Art. Works of Art Market, collecting and Circulation during the Second World War in Buenos Aires

Session 16 Commodity and Market


To value and preserve the artistic heritage due to the destruction and lootings caused in the Second World War in Europe is a concept that motivated the numerous auctions and sales of Works of art in commercial galleries in Buenos Aires. However, the elocution evoking the role of collecting in that context dramatically contrasted with the lack of information regarding the origin of the work that could eventually be linked to the Nazi plunder. The mission to preserve the high culture and the feeling of inheriting part of the European tradition seemed to give no place to questioning whatsoever among the high classes from Buenos Aires. By the time of a commercial market that in the middle of the 20th century showed strong competitors as regards the importation of Works of arts, Wildenstein gallery’s branch stood out and between 1940 and 1941 was set up in the city with a successful background in Paris and branches in London and Nueva York as well. Following enticing strategies, the company`s catalogues resorted to mentioning well—known clients and the exhibition of pieces belonging to private collection and thus it made a great impact. The purpose of this work is to explore certain aspect of Wildenstein’s background in the first years of his work in the Argentinean capital focusing on those exhibition policies used to cover the demand of the European art, contributing at the same time to motivating that double material and symbolic appropriation caused by the scattering of the heritage. The aim is to analyze the role of the gallery in that double game of identification and concealment performed by a sector of the artistic circulation in the context of the Second World War and in today’s setting as well.


Doctor in History and Arts Theory and Degree in Arts from the University of Buenos Aires, Research Associate of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de Argentina (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research in Argentina) with the project Marchands d’art, editors and booksellers: circulation of art works and expansion of artistic consumption in Buenos Aires (1920-1950); researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones en Arte y Cultura Dr. Norberto Griffa (IIAC), National University of Tres de Febrero and member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte. Professor at the Masters in Visual Arts Curator (UNTREF) and academic coordinator at the same institution. She has dictated courses and conferences on topics of her specialty, has received research grants from CONICET and from Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut of Berlin. She is co-editor of the digital magazine Estudios Curatoriales: Teoría, crítica e historia (Curatorial Studies. Theory, criticism and history) (IIAC-UNTREF) and author of the book The price of Beauty. Art Collectors and Consumption in Argentina (to be published). She has been part of projects subsidized by the University of Buenos Aires, the Fundación Antorchas, the UNED (Madrid) and, at the moment, she is in charge of projects about curatorial studies, cultural consumption and art market residing in the UNTREF. She is also part of teams sponsored by the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (National Agency of Scientific and Technological Promotion).