Trust in Competence and Tradition
The first auction catalogue, complete with hand drawings and prints by Max Slevogt, was published in September 1946. It contained 183 entries, with a print run of 500 copies. Despite the difficulties of the postwar period, the auction was a tremendous success. A gap in the market had opened between the most basic essentials and the longing for the beautiful.
A later auction was arranged which featured Expressionist prints by Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, among others. Art that had been declared "degenerate" and subsequently confiscated by the Third Reich was offered on the free market in Germany for the first time. The results of the auction confirmed what the brothers had long suspected: man does not live by bread alone. Even in such difficult times as those following the Second World War, the soul needs more than wooden clogs and rutabaga bread. The two Ketterers devoted themselves to the task of fulfilling this deep human need for beauty at Eberhardstraße 65 in Stuttgart. The brothers returned lost prestige and brought undreamt of fame to many hitherto ostracized and banned artists.
The catalog for the second auction in February 1948 appeared in an edition of 3,000 copies and offered works by Chagall, Corinth, Dix, Feininger, Kirchner, Kollwitz, Kubin and Toulouse-Lautrec, among others. Success built on success and within a few years the "Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett" established itself as the leading auction house for modern art. It quickly became a meeting place for great artists, art lovers, and important personages of the cultural, economic, and political worlds.
The brothers from the southeastern corner of the Black Forest chose to continue on separate career paths in 1954. While Wolfgang Ketterer opened his own gallery on Hackländerstraße in Stuttgart, Roman Norbert Ketterer took over as literary executor for the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. After resettling in Campione d’Italia on Lake Lugano in 1962, he devoted himself to writing about his favorite artists in numerous publications. His efforts with the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner culminated in 1992 with the establishment of the Kirchner Museum in Davos.
Upon is death on June 19, 2002, Roman Norbert Ketterer was buried in the Waldfriedhof cemetery of Davos-Frauenkirch , next to the resting place of the Expressionist, whom he so greatly admired. His gallery work and activities with the Kirchner archive are continued by his children Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer and Günther Ketterer, as well as his son-in-law Wolfgang Henze, in Bern-Wichtrach.
In the meantime, Wolfgang Ketterer moved with his gallery from Stuttgart to Munich in 1965. The villa of the "Salon Painter" Franz von Stuck was the seat of this institution of Modern Art until 1982, when the spacious Carolinenpalais at Brienner Straße 25 became Wolfgang Ketterer’s main office in the metropolis on the Isar.
Alongside various exhibitions in that magnificent building by architect Gabriel von Seidl, two auctions of modern art were held there each year. Almost 20 years later, the family business moved back to Prinzregentenstraße, in the immediate vicinity of the Stuck villa. Since June 2001, the talented staff of the auction house has done their work at house number 61, the Prinz-Alfons-Palais. In November 2008 the new building in Munich was opened.
Second Location in Hamburg
- Representatives - Galleries
Since November 2006 Ketterer Kunst is also there for its clientele in the German capital. Now, with 150 square metres of showroom and sale-room floor space at Fasanenstrasse 70, near the Literature Café in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Ketterer Kunst is the only German auction house with branches in three major German cities. Important reasons for expanding to Berlin are, first, being close to Eastern Europe, a buoyant growth market; second, an increasingly sharp focus on contemporary art and, third, the aspect of providing optimal service for clients.
In addition Ketterer Kunst maintains representatives in Heidelberg, Düsseldorf and Modena (Italy).
Activities and future prospects
Though the house is still primarily devoted to auctions, Ketterer Kunst also enjoys playing host to special events. The auction house acts as an interface and organizes the various competencies of its partners to the greatest potential. In this way, Robert Ketterer was able to win the Technical University of Munich to lecture on "Art and Counterfeiting". His goal was to provide more background information on art themes, not only to his clients, but also to the clients of the partners, ArabellaSheraton and American Express.
Besides the occasional benefit auction, exhibitions with special thematic emphasis are frequently organized. Several have been of particular note, such as the exhibitions of Expressionist works, such as those by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, to whom House Ketterer has always been closely connected, and Tom Wesselmann’s traveling exhibition featuring his contemporary art.