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Kunstmuseum Bern (Museum of Fine Arts Bern), Switzerland has agreed, today, to accept artworks from the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt's 1,300 works that has been bequeathed to the museum by German collector. Christoph Schaeublin of the Bern Art Museum told a news conference in Berlin that the museum would accept parts of the artworks bequeathed by Cornelius Gurlitt, who died in May at the age of 81.

The collection has been known colloquially as the “Munich Art Trove,” and collated by Cornelius Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt. Gurlitt senior was one of four art dealers entrusted with selling so-called degenerate art during the Nazi regime’s rule. The collection includes a number high-value works from the period by Henri Matisse, Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, and Marc Chagall, among others. Originally estimated at the value of nearly £700 million - the value has dropped significantly as many pieces are believed to have been looted from Jewish families by the Nazis.

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Jewish World Congress president Ronald Lauder has publicly threatened the Kunstmuseum Bern with an "avalanche" of lawsuits if the institution accepts the collection of approximately 1,300 artworks bequeathed to it by the late Cornelius Gurlitt - stated in an article published by German weekly "Der Spiegel." The museum is currently still in the process of making this delicate decision - whether or not to accept the collection - which includes works by Henri Matisse, Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, and Marc Chagall, among others famous artists.

Gurlitt died on May 6th of this year, leaving the entire collection to the Swiss museum - but nearly 600 works from the collection are suspected to be of questionable provenance, possibly Nazi loot.

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No one saw the depraved underbelly of post-war Weimar-era Germany as surely as Otto Dix.

His famous triptych Metropolis set dismembered veterans alongside bourgeois revellers and femme fatales.

A year later, in 1928, came the dehumanised, androgynous Portrait Of The Journalist Sylvia von Harden, a masterpiece currently held in Paris.

But it is a series of 50 prints titled Der Krieg (The War), made ten years after the beginning of the First World War, whose unerring focus is pertinent as the world commemorates the centenary of the start of machine-led, industrial-scale killing.

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"Degenerate Art" is the term Adolf Hitler and his henchmen used to describe works they simply did not like. The Nazis are long gone. Much of the art they denounced has survived, and is now on view. Here's Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours":

In the cultural capital that was Berlin in the early 1930s, art and politics often clashed, with modern artists like George Grosz leading the charge.

"Grosz was fearless, and whether it was his art or politics, he spoke his mind," said Jonathan Petropoulos, a history professor at Claremont McKenna College in California. "He was probably the most famous Communist artist in Germany at the time, and he used his art as a weapon."

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The German government has released some details about the astounding art collection found in a dilapidated Munich apartment. Authorities released a written statement saying that about 590 of the 1,400 artworks could have been stolen by Nazis and identified 25 of the pieces on the website Among the paintings listed on the site were Otto Dix’s The Woman in the Theater Box, Otto Griebel’s Child at the Table and Max Liebermann’s Rider on the Beach. The trove also includes works by Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso.

The masterpieces were found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of the art dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt, who reportedly acquired the works in the late 1930s and 1940s. Gurlitt’s father had been put in charge of selling the stolen artworks abroad by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, but secretly hoarded many of them and later claimed that they were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. Gurlitt, an unemployed recluse, sold a number of the paintings over the years and lived off of the profits. 200 of the pieces have outstanding return requests from the original owners’ heirs.

The German government has assembled a task force of six experts to research the provenance of each recently discovered artwork. To date, it has been determined that one painting by Matisse was stolen by the Nazis from a French bank in 1942.  

German officials will update the Lost Art website regularly as the investigation progresses.

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A gallery has discovered four paintings by Otto Dix, the German expressionist whose art chronicled the horrors of World War One, the depravity of the Weimar Republic and was labelled "degenerate" by Adolf Hitler.

Famous for works critical of the darker side of German society in the 1920s, Dix's paintings were discovered among the belongings of his wife, gallery owner Herbert Remmert told Reuters on Wednesday.

The paintings were found in a portfolio untouched for decades on an estate in Bavaria owned by the ancestors of a Duesseldorf doctor and art collector who remained close to Dix even after his wife left him for the artist.

The three watercolours and one painting-study date from the first two years Dix spent in Duesseldorf from 1922-1925.

"This period represents some of the most important years for Otto Dix as an artist," Remmert said. "It was during this time that Dix really developed his themes. Even his technical skills developed -- his watercolour paintings matured and became more refined."

Dix was one of the leading artists of his era. When World War One broke out in 1914, he volunteered for the army and served on various frontlines, including the Somme, until he was wounded and discharged from service in 1918.

He initially produced gruesome drawings and paintings portraying mangled soldiers in battle. As time went on, Dix also became increasingly critical of postwar German society during a period in which soaring inflation meant financial ruin for most.

In his works from the 1920s, he captured the depravity of indulgence and destitution that marked the Weimar Republic.

His famous 1928 triptych "Metropolis," contrasts a crippled veteran surrounded by prostitutes in a Berlin red-light district while rich patrons dance in an American-style jazz club.

When the Nazis took power in 1933, Hitler branded Dix a degenerate and had many of his most important works burned.

Gallery owners Peter Barth and Remmert tracked the works down at the Bavarian estate by accident. They were searching for other art on the estate owned by the daughter and granddaughter of the Duesseldorf collectors Hans and Martha Koch.

Dix became entangled in the lives of the Kochs in Duesseldorf. Hans Koch was a doctor and a leading art collector. Koch's wife, Martha, fell in love with Dix and their affair led her to divorce Koch and leave her two children. Dix later married Martha in 1923.

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