Albert Skira

Albert Skira (1904–1973) was a Swiss art dealer,[1] publisher and the founder of the Skira publishing house.[2]

Albert Skira
Born1903
Died1973
OccupationPublisher, Art dealer

The Skira publishing house, Editions d'Art Albert SkiraEdit

Skira founded the eponymous publishing house in Lausanne in 1928, at various times known as Skira, Editions d'Art Albert Skira, and Skira Editore. During the 1930s Skira opened an office in Paris and the publishing house became a meeting place for important artistic figures of the time. In 1933, Skira contacted André Breton about a new journal, which he planned to be the most luxurious art and literary review the Surrealists had seen, featuring a slick format with many color illustrations. Skira's restriction was that Breton was not allowed to use the magazine to express his social and political views. Later that year Minotaure began publication, and continued until 1939.

In addition to Minotaure Skira published several volumes of literature and poetry in the 1930s, both classic and contemporary, that prominently featured original prints by major artists of the time including: Les Métamorphoses by Ovid, illustrated with 30 original engravings by Pablo Picasso in 1931;[3] Poésies by Stéphane Mallarmé, with 29 etchings by Henri Matisse in 1932;[4] Les Chants de Maldoror by Isidore Lucien Ducasse [also known as the Comte de Lautréamont] with 43 etchings by Salvador Dalí published in 1934.[5]

During the Second World War Skira's publishing house was forced to reduce its activities. Henri Matisse designed the cover of the Editions d'Art Albert Skira publisher's catalogue in 1948, for the celebration of its first twenty years, a woman’s head which was to become the unofficial trademark for Skira. After World War II Albert Skira planned and directed the publication of several ambitious series or, book collections, on the subject of painting and art history.[6] The volumes in these collections were characterized by fine scholarship illustrated with numerous high quality color reproductions "tipped" into each volume. Most of the volumes in each collection were translated into multiple languages and available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish editions.

Nazi-looted artEdit

Skira was considered a Red Flag name for his involvement in Nazi-looted art during the German occupation of France during World War II.[7][8] According to the OSS Art Looting Intelligence Unit, Skira purchased looted art from "Renou and Colle,[9] Fabiani, Raphael Gerard, Carre and a group of sixteen less important Parisian dealers".[7] Pierre Cailler, his partner in Editions d’Art Albert Skira SA, Geneva was also suspected of "trafficking in loot".[10][11]

Art collector Peter Watson accused Skira of dealing in stolen art, and Skira "only narrowly avoided serious post-War repercussions with the Allied authorities for trading in looted art because Watson withdrew his allegations against him".[12]

Book collections planned and directed by Albert Skira 1948–1973Edit

[6]

  • Painting, Color, History: 23 volumes (1949-1972) [four additional volumes published by Skira/Rizzoli after 1972]. A series surveying national schools of painting including Flemish (Vols. I-II), French (Vols. I-III), German (Vols. I-II), Italian (Vols. I-IV), Spanish (Vols. I-II), Modern Painting (Vols. I-III) and more.
  • The Great Centuries of Painting. 14 volumes, published 1950–1959. This collection presents a chronological overview of the history of painting in Europe and western civilization from prehistoric cave painting, to ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe, and the Renaissance through to the end of the nineteenth century.
  • The Taste of our Time. 57 volumes, published 1953–1972. This collection includes: Monographs (43 volumes on European painters); The Great Art Revolutions (6 volumes on Cubism, Fauvism, Impressionism I & II, Romanticism, Surrealism); Famous Places as Seen by Great Painters (4 volumes on Montmartre, Paris I, Paris II, Venice); Drawing (4 unnumbered volumes on Chagall, Daumier, Impressionist, Picasso).
  • The Treasures of Asia. 6 volumes, published 1960–1963. A companion series in matching format to The Great Centuries of Painting, surveying the history of painting in Arabia, Central Asia, China, India, Japan, and Persia.
  • The Treasures of the World. 8 volumes, published 1962–1970. "Created by Albert Skira for Horizon Magazine"[13] this series focuses on the architecture, fine art, and decorative arts of various cultures or cities including Ancient America, Iran, Spain I, Spain II: Turkey, The Pharaohs, The Vatican, and Venice.
  • Art, Ideas, History. 10 volumes, published 1964–1969. Like the Great Centuries of Painting, this collection is a chronological historical overview (from 980 to 1945), expanding the coverage to encompass sculpture, architecture, and decorative arts, and to place that art into the broader social, political, philosophical, and historical context of the period that it was produced.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Petropoulos, Jonathan (2017-07-01). "Art Dealer Networks in the Third Reich and in the Postwar Period". Journal of Contemporary History. 52 (3): 546–565. doi:10.1177/0022009416637417. ISSN 0022-0094. The final OSS ‘red flag list’ of Swiss individuals in the art world suspected of having dealt in looted art consists of 61 names; among the prominent figures identified were dealers Albert Skira (Geneva), Will Raeber (Basel), and Albin Neupert (Zurich)
  2. ^ Art: Perfectionist, Time, 29 May 1950. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  3. ^ Jaffé, H. L. C. 1964. Pablo Picasso. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY. 160 pp.
  4. ^ Jacobus, J. 1972. Matisse. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY. 184 pp.
  5. ^ Descharnes, R. 1984. Salvador Dalí, the Work, the Man. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY. 455 pp
  6. ^ a b Evesque, C. 2015. Albert Skira et ses livres d’art (1948-1973). Histoire. 2015. (https://dumas.ccsd.cnrs.fr/dumas-01256888)
  7. ^ a b "Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index". www.lootedart.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2021-04-25. Seira, Albert. Geneva, 4 place du Molart. Owner of publishing firm ‘Editions d’Art ‘; on British and American Proclaimed Lists. Partner of Pierre Cailler and son-in-law of Lionello Venturi, celebrated Italian anti-Fascist art historian, long resident of France and the United States. Imported a large number of works of art from France during the German occupation, and upon request, submitted lists to the British and French diplomatic missions in Switzerland to prove that all objects were acquired and imported legitimately. Suspected strongly of having smuggled additional objects into Switzerland through diplomatic channels (possibly South American) and illicit border activity. Purchased from Renou et Colle, Fabiani, Raphael Gerard, Carre and a group of sixteen less important Parisian dealers. Contact of von Frey. Believed to be playing a double game with earlier strong connections in the French underground. No claims pending against him on the part of the French Government, but appears to be an unsolved case of potential importance.
  8. ^ "Page 140 WWII OSS Art Looting Investigation Reports". Fold3. Retrieved 2021-04-25.
  9. ^ "Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index". www.lootedart.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2021-04-25. Renou et Colle. Paris, 165 rue du Fbg St Honore. Firm of art dealers who handled looted art, notably from the Paul Rosenberg Collection. Contact of Gurlitt and Skira. Schenker documents indicate sales to German buyers.
  10. ^ "Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index". www.lootedart.com. National Archives. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2021-04-25. Caillier, Pierre. Geneva. Partner in the firm of Editions d’Art Albert Skira SA, Geneva and suspected of trafficking in loot.
  11. ^ "Page 134 WWII OSS Art Looting Investigation Reports". Fold3. Retrieved 2021-04-25.
  12. ^ "The art collection of Peter Watson (1908–1956)" (PDF). The British Art Journal Volume XVI, No. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-01-03. The trail showed that the picture had come into the possession of the Parisian art dealers, Renou et Colle. Watson was a friend of Pierre Colle,33 and became highly suspicious of him when he learnt the fate of his Dalí. The picture had then been sold to another friend of Watson,Albert Skira,34 who sold it to a gallery in Zurich and from there the picture had reached the Kunstmuseum.35 Skira only narrowly avoided serious post-War repercussions with the Allied authorities for trading in looted art because Watson withdrew his allegations against him.
  13. ^ Maurizio Calvesi and Deoclecio Redig de Campos. Treasures of the Vatican. (1962), Editions d'Art Albert Skira, Geneva, 207 pp.

Further readingEdit

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