Books

The Munich Art Hoard by Catherine Hickley

We define ourselves so much by what we have.

Some people feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses”, buying bigger fridges and sports cars and filling their houses with the latest tech. Others buck current trends, preferring to demonstrate their allegiance to counter-culture with objects that the Joneses wouldn’t consider worthwhile.

And even if the decision to buy specific stuff isn’t as considered as those examples, we still define ourselves by our surroundings, especially if we’ve chosen them.

My house, for example, is a place where as soon as you walk in, you know I’m what people who are trying to be polite would term “a bit of a character”. The hallway is strewn with drapey material in rainbow hues: pinks and greens and oranges and purples and reds crashing and clashing together in a cheery welcome.

You’d soon discover that I love books, because of the wall-to-wall bookshelf in the bedroom. You’d learn that I’m a writer if you walked into the living room and saw the huge stack of notebooks piled up next to the desk.

Janeway portrait

And you’d know I love Star Trek if you saw my commissioned charcoal portrait of Captain Janeway. (You can have one, too.)

Because art describes us, and frees us, and makes us who we are. It expresses our innermost selves as well as projecting the image we want to set.

So when people take our art away, it’s an incredibly personal move. Many people have works of art that have been handed down throughout decades – sometimes centuries – as family heirlooms. For them, the art is a symbol of their family history; something that weaves past and present together; something that brings with it the responsibility to take it into the future.

It is from this premise that Hickley’s The Munich Art Hoard begins.

The Munich Art Hoard by Catherine HickleySparked by the discovery of a huge trove of artwork from such names as Picasso, Klee and Matisse in the attic of an old man in Germany, an investigation began into the nefarious works of Hitler’s art dealer, Hildebrand – aka the old man’s father.

Archival research and interviews have been drawn together to uncover the story of various works of art, as well as how the cases are still being fought today.

The book is a historical gem and a testament to the special place art has in our lives. If you’re into art, history or… well, art history… you’ll no doubt love it.

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