Spectacular Kirchner Rediscovery After More Than 100 Years!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Spectacular Kirchner Rediscovery After More Than 100 Years!

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's life and work have been subject to extensive research. And now this sensation: Ketterer Kunst’s Evening Sale on the occasion of the company’s 70th anniversary on June 7 features a painting that could not be located for decades.

Its outstanding significance in the oeuvre of the co-founder of the "Brücke" group had been forgotten. There were some publications, and there was evidence of the work in the sensational Brücke exhibition at Galerie Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin in 1912, as well as of a later exhibition at Paul Cassirer in Berlin in 1923. Now the collectors from Baden-Württemberg, who have enjoyed the painting for generations - eighty years to be precise - in private and without any public attention, have decided to sell it.

Measuring 120 by 145 centimeters, “Tanz im Varieté (Steptanz)“ is an extraordinarily large picture in Kirchner’s oeuvre, it was made in 1911, the year the artist relocated from Dresden to the metropolis Berlin, a cosmopolitan city of two million even back then, a vibrant melting pot that promised inspiration and, of course, more market presence. The beginning of an extremely prolific creative phase; his works from that period up until the First World War are among his most outstanding accomplishments. Today they are almost exclusively museum-owned, while just a few are in private hands. Their market presence has been extremely low in the last couple of years.

Kirchner’s famous street scenes come from that era; all of his cabaret and circus pictures are expressions of an urban liveliness, a revealing joie de vivre and eroticism. The social and cultural changes are tangible in his motifs and compositions. Emotion and harshness are combined in an equally provocative and convincing way. At the same time, our work is a very characteristic, extraordinarily successful and decisive example of Kirchner's endeavor to render the moment of a powerful and energetic motion ("My painting is a painting of motion").

Estimated at 2 to 3 million euros, the painting is mentioned in Donald E. Gordon's authoritative catalogue raisonné (1968) accompanied by an old black-and-white photograph, however, it is marked as "whereabouts unknown". Neither the estate and leading experts nor the archive had ever seen it in color.

Main Image :Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tanz im Varieté (Steptanz), 1911.

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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