JOSEF URBACH – LOST ART
Written and directed by Tilman Urbach
Germany / 2017 / 94 mins
In 1921, four Jewish families – Simon, Levy, Stern and Abel – who were patrons of the art scene in Essen, facilitated a study trip to Italy for a young artist, Josef Urbach. Many of the paintings he created on this trip went into the families’ art collections. But when the Nazis came to power, everything changed drastically. In 1937 they declared two of Urbach's works to be 'degenerate art' and removed them (along with hundreds of other works of art) from Essen's Museum Folkwang. Little by little, Urbach, by now a respected Rhineland Expressionist and professor at the Folkwang School, lost his patrons and his paintings in Jewish collections were destroyed during Kristallnacht or later confiscated and stolen. Eighty years later, the filmmaker Tilman Urbach goes in search of his great-uncle’s lost paintings. He visits the collectors’ descendants in Belgium, Sweden and Holland. Not only is the artist Josef Urbach’s life reflected, but the fate of his Jewish patrons and collectors is also uncovered. The film examines the issue of Lost Art in the context of individual life stories and makes a timely and moving contribution to the current debate.
"At first it was intended to be a cinematic portrait of my great-uncle Josef Urbach, but in the encounter with the descendants of the Jewish collector families and the reconstruction of the events that led to Lost Art, it became more and more a political film for me.” (Tilman Ubach)