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Course Description

This three-session, 4.5-hour low participant-to-instructor ratio eCourse centres on Provenance research, which has emerged on the global stage in the late 1990s as a key discipline for clarifying the history of art objects claimed by the families of Nazi victims.

The detailed history of art objects begs to be detailed. Too often, it is fragmentary and, therefore, difficult to “read” as a story. If we focus on the ownership history of the objects, we realise that the available information is riddled with uncertainties and gaps, lacunae that stymie our effort to reconstruct its itinerary through various owners and geographical locations over time and space. Our purpose is to elicit ways of restoring the object’s story in as comprehensive a way as possible by applying different methods and asking questions that go beyond the narrow strictures of art historical inquiry.

 

During the course participants will:

➣ Outline and explore the strategies and methods with which to address lacunae (gaps and uncertainties) in the history of art objects.
➣ Examine ways of closing gaps and clearing up uncertainties in the history of art objects.
➣ Explore digital tools, archival research, and ways of connecting disparate data to shape, when possible, a coherent narrative around art objects.
➣ Assess the strengths and weaknesses of available digital tools.

 

Course Instructor

Marc Masurovsky is a trained historian who has specialised since 1980 on Nazi war crimes, the economics of genocide, and, more specifically, cultural plunder during the Third Reich (1933-1945) and its post-WWII consequences on the global art market, the politics and economics of restitution and repatriation to rightful owners. He has organised and taught specialised workshops on how to conduct research into the complex history of these objects and the forces that shaped their story.

What we will explore

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Methods for refining provenance research.

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How the completeness of an object's historical record, tracking the origin, ownership, transfer, and movement from inception to the present day, has a lot to tell us about its rightful ownership.

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Methodologies to establish the history of ownership.

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How the complexity of restitution as it relates to Nazi spoliated artworks directly applies to cultural heritage translocated during the colonial era as well as today's blood antiquities.

How People Are Reacting

I took this online course as an introduction to the topic when the COVID pandemic prevented me from attending ARCA’s PG Cert program in Italy. The course gave me an exciting baseline introduction and I look forward to taking their summer professional training program next year.

Sarah Scott

As a university student taking courses in organized crime and terrorism, I wanted to understand better how art intersects with these more well known types of criminal behaviors. Professor Tijhuis and Professor Albertson gave me an excellent overview and I look forward to seeing what other courses on the subject ARCA develops.

Luis Rodriguez