Sale: 530 / Evening Sale / The Hermann Gerlinger Collection, June 10. 2022 in Munich Lot 34

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Afrikanische Schale, 1926.
Oil on canvas
€ 200,000 / $ 216,000
€ 275,000 / $ 297,000

(incl. surcharge)
Afrikanische Schale. 1926.
Oil on canvas.
Grohmann p. 210. Signed in upper right. 66.5 x 74 cm (26.1 x 29.1 in).
With a picture on the reverse painted over by the artist (presumably from 1913, as this format was first used in 1912 and exclusively in 1913). [KT].

• Unique document of the influence that African art had on European Modernism and especially on Expressionism.
• Paintings with African inspired motifs are extremely rare on the international auction market.
• The work used to part of two important international collections - Shortly after it was made the Städel in Frankfurt bought the work, after the war it was part of the collection of the Guggenheim Museum, New York.
• Fateful history, the confiscation from the Städel in contextt of the "Degenerate Art" campaign in 1937 extends the paintings significance by a historical dimension

We are grateful to Megan Fontanella, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Dr. Iris Schmeisser, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, for their kind expert advice.

The work is documented in the archive of the Karl and Emy Schmidt-Rottluff Foundation, Berlin.

PROVENANCE: Städel'sches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main (acquired from the artist in 1927-1937).
Staatsbesitz (confiscated from the above in 1937, Degenerate Art number 16121).
Buch- und Kunsthandlung Karl Buchholz, Berlin (acquired from the above on December 13, 1940).
Buchholz Gallery – Curt Valentin, New York (acquired from the above in 1941).
Nierendorf Gallery, New York.
Estate Karl Nierendorf, New York (1947-1948).
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (acquired from the estate of Karl Nierendorf in 1948 - 1975: Sotheby's New York, January 23, 1975. With two inventory labels on teh reverse).
Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker vom Rath, Frankfurt am Main (1976).
Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Würzburg (with the collector stamp).

EXHIBITION: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Galerie Ernst Arnold, Dresden, 1927, no. 27 (with illu.).
Entartete Kunst, Hofgarten-Arkaden, Munich, July 19 - Novemberr 30, 1937, no cat.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff zum 100. Geburtstag. Verzeichnis der ausgestellten Werke, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Schloß Gottorf, Schleswig, June 3 - August 12, 1984, cat. no. 55.
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Retrospektive Kunsthalle Bremen, June 16 - September 10, 1989; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, September 27 - December 3, 1989, cat. no. 276 (with illu. on plate 95).
ReVision: die Moderne im Städel, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, September 26, 1991 - January 12, 1992, cat. no. 27.
Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum Schloß Gottorf, Schleswig (permanent loan from Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 1995-2001).
Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle an der Saale (permanent loan from Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2001-2017).
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Landschaften und Stillleben, Saarlandmuseum, Saarbrücken, November 6, 2010 - January 23, 2011, cat. no. 23.
Expressionismus im Rhein-Main-Gebiet: Künstler - Händler - Sammler, Museum Giersch, Frankfurt am Main, cat. no. 119.
Brückenschlag: Gerlinger - Buchheim, Buchheim Museum der Phantasie, Bernried am Starnberger See, October 28, 2017 - February 25, 2018, p. 376 (with color illu.).
Schmidt-Rottluff. Form, Farbe, Ausdruck, Buchheim Museum, Bernried am Starnberger See, September 29, 2018 - February 3, 2019, pp. 268-269 (with illu.).
Buchheim Museum, Bernried (permanent loan from Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2017-2022).

LITERATURE: (Degenerate Art no. 16121).
Correspondence between the Städel’sche Kunstinstituts and the artist regarding the acquisition in 1927, archive of Städel Museum, sig. 623.
Letter, Karl Buchholz - Propaganda Ministry, May 22, 1940, merchant file Buchholz, Federal Archive, Berlin, R55/21017.
List, Schönhausen inventory, 1939, merchant file Gurlitt, Federal Archive, Berlin, R55/21015, l. 49, on. 765.
Wil Grohmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Stuttgart 1956, p. 111 (with illu. on p. 210).
Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, Ocotber 23, 1975, lot 296.
Andreas Hüneke, Schmidt-Rottluff und die Aktion "Entartete Kunst", in: Expressionismus. Zeiterscheinung, Zeitproblem. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl-Marx-Stadt 1984, pp. 47-54, here p. 53.
Franz Roh, "Entartete" Kunst. Kunstbarbarei im Dritten Reich, Hanover 1962, p. 186.
Nationalsozialismus und "Entartete Kunst", published by Peter Schuster, ex. cat. Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich 1987, p. 152 (with exhibition photo).
Angriff auf die Kunst. Der faschistische Bildersturm vor fünfzig Jahren, Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar 1988, p. 103.
Entartete Kunst - Das Schicksal der Avantgarde im Nazi-Deutschland, published by Stephanie Barron, ex. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art / Altes Museum, Berlin, Los Angeles/Berlin 1992, p. 343 (with exhibition photo).
Christoph Zuschlag, "Entartete Kunst". Ausstellungsstrategien im Nazi-Deutschland, Worms 1995, p. 195.
Heinz Spielmann (editor), Die Maler der Brücke. Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Stuttgart 1995, p. 409, SHG no. 733 (with illu.).
Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (editor), Die Maler der Brücke. Inventory catalog Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Halle (Saale) 2005, pp. 110-11, SHG no. 247 (with illu.).
Uwe Fleckner, Max Hollein (editor), Museum im Widerspruch. Das Städel und der Nationalsozialismus, Berlin 2011, pp. 52, 216, 307.
Anja Tiedemann, Die "entartete" Moderne und ihr amerikanischer Markt. Karl Buchholz und Curt Valentin als Händler verfemter Kunst, Berlin 2013: Writings from Research Center "Degenerate Art", vol. 8, p. 401.
Brückenschlag: Gerlinger - Buchheim! Museumsführer durch die "Brücke"-Sammlungen von Hermann Gerlinger und Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Feldafing 2017, p. 376 (with illu. on p. 377).

Non-European art was an important source of inspiration for the "Brücke" artists. In their search for a new aesthetics of expression, they discovered the key to a new originality in art in the masks and strange cultural objects from Africa or the South Seas that came to Europe from the colonial areas at the beginning of the 20th century. Schmidt-Rottluff was also enthusiastic about the emotional power of so-called primitive art. He felt a magical strength in the sculptures from Africa and the South Seas, which he would like to use for his paintings. Many of the carved or painted faces and objects can be found in his woodcuts and sculptures, in his still lifes and even in his portraits, where the faces adapt the physiognomy of African masks. Even before the First World War, Schmidt-Rottluff began collecting exotic objects, artefacts, some of which he acquired in the Hamburg ethnographic trade and which often enlivened his motifs. Schmidt-Rottluff compiled the first examples in impressive still lifes before the First World War. (Fig.) After a long break, it seems, the artist remembered the fascination of the foreign again, and in 1926 he painted this impressive still life "African Bowl". This bowl is placed at the center of a small table, crowded with simple vases and two large apples. The accessories differ significantly from the bowl with the carved foot, which is dominated by a fine, friendly face - according to the artist's interpretation. "In the bowl of the African sculpture," the 90-year-old artist reports to the collector Hermann Gerlinger, "he always kept his keys and wallet and prepared baked apples on the stove [the stovepipe in the background on the right marks the place]. The vases were waiting to be filled with bouquets."

The Arnold Gallery in Dresden showed the still life the same year it was created. When the renowned Städel Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt am Main approached the artist with a purchase request a little later, he informed him that he could propose the present painting "with a good feeling – but for a net price of 2000.-" (letter from July 8, 1927 ). The Frankfurt museum was finally able to raise the quite considerable purchase price, so that the picture moved from the artist to the museum in 1927.

But modern art, which was still contested in 1927, would soon no longer be considered worthy of a museum: almost exactly a decade to the day after the first offer, on July 7, 1937, the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda confiscated the painting , together with many other works of progressive modernism. Defamed by the National Socialists as "degenerate art", it was shown from July 19, 1937 in the Munich exhibition of the same name. (Fig.) Since Schmidt-Rottluff's still life was classified as "exploitable" by the Nazi art henchmen, it escaped the fate of destruction – a stroke of luck for art history. The Berlin bookseller and art dealer Karl Buchholz, one of the four dealers commissioned to "exploit" the confiscated art treasures, acquired the painting on December 13, 1940 and immediately transferred it to his New York branch, the Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin. The still life with an African bowl finally found its way to the renowned Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1948 from the estate of the art dealer Karl Nierendorf, who had also fled to New York. From there it returned to Germany in the 1970s and found its way into the Hermann Gerlinger Collection. [MvL]

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Afrikanische Schale, 1926.
Oil on canvas
€ 200,000 / $ 216,000
€ 275,000 / $ 297,000

(incl. surcharge)