Provenance

Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project

Like many museums across the country, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is participating in the nationwide effort to identify works of art that may have been illegally confiscated from their rightful owners by the Nazi regime during World War II. Committed to the responsible stewardship of its collection, the Brooks Museum is conducting in-depth provenance research on a number of paintings in the permanent collection, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the American Association of Museums in 1999 and 2001.

List of paintings
Nazi-Era Provenance Research ProjectNazi-Era Provenance Research Project

Provenance

Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project

Like many museums across the country, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is participating in the nationwide effort to identify works of art that may have been illegally confiscated from their rightful owners by the Nazi regime during World War II. Committed to the responsible stewardship of its collection, the Brooks Museum is conducting in-depth provenance research on a number of paintings in the permanent collection, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the American Association of Museums in 1999 and 2001.

List of paintings
Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project

June 24 – September 11, 2022

Another Dimension: Digital Art in Memphis

While digital art has existed since the 1960s, it has experienced increasingly mainstream interest in recent years. Due in part to our shift toward virtual environments during the Covid-19 pandemic, this rise in interest from artists to collectors has also been fueled by the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

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Kenneth Wayne Alexander, 'Tower of Babel', 2021. Digital video. Courtesy of the artist.
Kenneth Wayne Alexander, 'Tower of Babel', 2021. Digital video. Courtesy of the artist.

June 10 - January 9, 2023

Monika Grzymala

Grzymala’s work challenges the very definition of drawing and the nature of categorizing artworks - where does drawing end and sculpture begin? What are drawings made from, and how do we experience them?

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Monika Grzymala, Line, London, 2016
Monika Grzymala, Line, London, 2016

May 19 - September 25, 2022

Action!: Art in Motion

Explore this educational, interactive exhibition that encourages you to think about how two-dimensional art can capture dynamic moments of motion. Experience twentieth-century American prints and watercolors from Memphis' collection at the Brooks showcasing people, animals, and machines in action.

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Miguel Covarrubias, Mexican (1904-1957), 'Rumba', 1947, lithograph, gift of Dr. Louis Levy, 47.152
Miguel Covarrubias, Mexican (1904-1957), 'Rumba', 1947, lithograph, gift of Dr. Louis Levy, 47.152

Through February, 2023

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Thankful Poor

This work is one of the artist's last known “genre” paintings—images that depict everyday or ordinary domestic scenes—before he transitioned almost exclusively to religious scenes.

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Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, 1859 - 1937, 'The Thankful Poor', 1894, oil on canvas
Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, 1859 - 1937, 'The Thankful Poor', 1894, oil on canvas

February 14 - August 9

Faig Ahmed: Secret Garden

Faig Ahmed, the internationally celebrated artist from Azerbaijan, is known for transforming the visual language of traditional eastern carpets into contemporary, sculptural works of art.

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January 29 - April 17 | April 23 - July 3, 2022

Due South: Ke Francis and Hoopsnake Press

Due South: Ke Francis and Hoopsnake Press is built around seven of Ke Francis’ books that exemplify his work as a narrative artist living and working in the South.

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January 4 - August 29

Art of the African Diaspora

As conversations around the African Diaspora shift and evolve, so too will this display, aided by the museum actively acquiring works that reflect these varied, global experiences.

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Currently on view

Power and Absence

This reimagining of the Schilling Gallery explores the representation of women in Europe from around 1500 to 1680, known as the Renaissance and Early Baroque period. Most of the works in this room have been made by men.

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Image credit
Image credit

March 15 - June 5

Paradise Lost: Albrecht Dürer's Stolen Eden

In the 1970s, a woodcut by one of the world's greatest printmakers, the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, was stolen from the Brooks. This print, the Expulsion of Adam and Eve, was part of a complete set of thirty-six illustrations and a title page known as the Small Passion.

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Albrecht Dürer, German, 1471 - 1528 'The Expulsion From Paradise' (detail), from the Small Passion (1511), ca. 1510, Woodcut, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Estate of W. H. Foote
Albrecht Dürer, German, 1471 - 1528 'The Expulsion From Paradise' (detail), from the Small Passion (1511), ca. 1510, Woodcut, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Estate of W. H. Foote

February 4 - May 15

Andy Warhol: Silver Clouds

Created in 1966, Warhol’s Silver Clouds consists of a room full of floating metallic balloons. The balloons are inflated with a proprietary mixture of air and pure helium, enabling them to float mesmerizingly in the space between the floor and the ceiling.

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Silver Clouds, 1966. Andy Warhol, Mixed Media Installation.
Silver Clouds, 1966. Andy Warhol, Mixed Media Installation.

February 4 - May 15, 2022

Andy Warhol: Little Red Book

The decidedly unglamorous snapshots of everyday life contained in the Little Red Books demonstrate Warhol’s compulsive desire to capture, collect, and organize his world.

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(L) Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987, Carroll Mallory, August 1972, Dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid) 4 1/4 × 3 5/16 in. (10.8 × 8.4 cm), Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 2014.4s (R) Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987, Claude Picasso, August, 1972, Dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid) 4 1/4 × 3 5/16 in. (10.8 × 8.4 cm), Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 2014.4q
(L) Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987, Carroll Mallory, August 1972, Dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid) 4 1/4 × 3 5/16 in. (10.8 × 8.4 cm), Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 2014.4s (R) Andy Warhol, American, 1928 – 1987, Claude Picasso, August, 1972, Dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid) 4 1/4 × 3 5/16 in. (10.8 × 8.4 cm), Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 2014.4q

January 29 - April 17 | April 23 - July 3, 2022

Due South: Ke Francis and Hoopsnake Press

Due South: Ke Francis and Hoopsnake Press is built around seven of Ke Francis’ books that exemplify his work as a narrative artist living and working in the South.

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January 22 - February 20, 2022

Mid-South Scholastic

Since 1989, the Brooks has been proud to partner with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the national non-profit organization which organizes the nation’s oldest and largest student art competition, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, to host the regional competition and exhibition for Memphis and Mid-South area.

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Adele Ferguson, 'Pax'
Adele Ferguson, 'Pax'

October 9 – November 7, 2021

Dia de los Muertos: Student Altar Exhibition

This month-long exhibition in the education gallery features ofrendas (altars) designed by Mid-South students, a Monarch butterfly collaborative art-making activity, and stories behind some of the iconic symbols that represent this celebration of life.

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September 18, 2021 – January 9, 2022

On Christopher Street

Mark Seliger, a well-known photographer, has captured striking portraits of some of the transgender residents of New York City’s famed Christopher Street. This will be the first time this body of work will be shown in a museum, and it is the first transgender-focused art exhibition the Brooks has ever organized.

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Portrait by Mark Seliger
Portrait by Mark Seliger

On view through January 9, 2022

Mona Hatoum: Misbah

Mona Hatoum (b. 1952, Beirut, Lebanon to Palestinian parents) is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation. Hatoum's sculptures and installations often re-imagine everyday objects to engage with issues of gender, race, and conflict.

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September 30 - October 15

Brooks Outside: Evanescent

Our next Brooks Outside installation will be brought to you by Atelier Sisu, the award winning Sydney-based art practice. Atelier Sisu is lead by Peruvian sculptor and industrial designer Renzo B. Larriviere and spatial architect and artist Zara Pasfield.

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This ongoing project, which began in 2002, focuses on all European paintings in the permanent collection that transferred ownership or have gaps in their provenance, or history of ownership, during 1933 to 1945. During the past two years, a number of the museum’s paintings have been researched and their provenance has been established, while others continue to be investigated.

However, we cannot conclude that a work of art was looted or appropriated by the Nazis simply because it has incomplete or unverified information in its provenance and is included in our survey. The provenance gap only highlights the need for further documentary evidence to clarify the history of ownership.

Many times these gaps are simply the result of lost or destroyed gallery records or requested anonymity of a past owner.

The provenance of many of these paintings may never be fully resolved, but with the recent declassification of documents and the broad range of databases, catalogues, and images available on the Internet from libraries, museums, and research centers worldwide, the chance for success is much greater than ever before.

Click here to see a list of paintings from the Brooks Museum’s permanent collection that are currently undergoing research due to lapses in provenance. In allowing public access to this information, we join with the international art museum community in the diligent search for items seized or looted during the Nazi era. If you have any inquiries or information about these items, please contact the museum at provresearch@brooksmuseum.org.

The American Association of Museums has developed a Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal which provides a searchable registry of objects in United States museum collections that fit the criteria discussed above.

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Galleries

You can start your visit to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art online and purchase your tickets before your arrive.

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Permanent Collections

Information about the permanent collections of the Brooks Museum

Interior with Soldiers
Provenance Research Paintings
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