The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 7, 2013

August 7, 1883

Joachim Ringelnatz ( (August 7, 1883, to November 17, 1934,) was a German poet and painter. "Ringelnatz" was a pen name of Hans Botticher. One of his canvases was in the news in 2013. 

We quote from

"Dachgarten der Irrsinnigen" (Roof Garden for the Insane) 
[below] , by Joachim Ringelnatz .... once belonged to Paul Westheim, the editor of an influential art magazine closed down by the Nazis in 1933. A museum [The Clemens Sels Museum] in the German city of Neuss reached a settlement with Westheim's heir allowing it [the museum] to keep
the painting."


What that means is that some amount of money went to the heir, in this case
Margit Frenk. She, after the travels so typical of the refugees, wound up in Mexico, where she is currently an author and an academic. 

During the twenties Ringelnatz sometimes worked as a standup comedian. The whereabouts of most of Ringenatz's art is still unknown. I do not know how he died, but Berlin is listed as the place, He had been listed by the German Nazi government as one of the "degenerate artists." 

I am copying the painting, originally created in 1925,  again, below,  with the cat circled:

From artdaily we also learn: 

The painting belonged to Paul Westheim, the [Jewish] editor of an influential art magazine closed down by the Nazis in 1933. He fled for Paris, leaving his collection with a friend for safekeeping. He never saw it again. The Neuss museum purchased the Ringelnatz work from a Dusseldorf gallery. Today’s settlement was mediated by a German government panel .... “Westheim had to give up possession of the picture because he emigrated as a result of persecution,” the panel said in its statement. “The advisory commission suggested a settlement. .. The agreement may pave the way for other returns to Westheim’s heir, Margit Frenk, who lives in Mexico. She has staked claims to paintings worth millions, including Jean Pougny’s “Still Life With White Bottle” in the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, according to her lawyer, Gunnar Schnabel. “We will write to (Berlin Mayor Klaus) Wowereit asking for the Pougny painting to be restituted,” Schnabel said in a telephone interview after the panel issued its recommendation. ....Germany is one of more than 40 countries that endorsed the non-binding Washington Principles on returning Nazi-looted art in public collections in 1998. ...Paul Westheim, born in 1886, was editor of the monthly art magazine “Das Kunstblatt,” one of the most important periodicals in Germany until it was forced to close by the Nazis in 1933, according to the book “Lost Lives, Lost Art” by Monika Tatzkow and Melissa Muller. [Westheim's]... passion was contemporary art, and he counted the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck and the painter Oskar Kokoschka among his friends. 

Westheim, born in 1886,  of course is dead. Frenk, born in 1925,  received 9,000 dollars for the Ringelnatz canvas, in 2013. Nobody seems to be mentioning how dreadfully the heirs and original owners have been treated regarding art restitution, by both the Allies and the defeated Germans. We are talking here about 80 years elapsing between crime and some equitable aftermath. Not that justice is the right word in these circumstances.  We have read that over half of the looted art is still unaccounted for, some of it no doubt in Russian vaults.

Roof Garden for the Insane pictures Berlin in the twenties.  As accurate as the painting is, who could then imagine how much worse it would get. 

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