Sale: 550 / Evening Sale, June 07. 2024 in Munich Lot 124000159


124000159
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Tanz im Varieté, 1911.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 2,000,000 - 3,000,000

 
$ 2,140,000 - 3,210,000

Information on buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation will be available four weeks before the auction.
Tanz im Varieté. 1911.
Oil on canvas.
121 x 148 cm (47.6 x 58.2 in).
The work is shown in the artist's photo album I (photo 171). [CH].

• Grand-sized painting from the best "Brücke" era.
• Spectacular rediscovery after more than 100 years.
• For the first time published in color: to date only known from black-and-white photographs.
• Part of the seminal "Brücke" exhibition at the Berlin art salon of Fritz Gurlitt (1912), the artists' first and ultimately only group show in Berlin.
• Published with an illustration as early as in 1920 (Karl Scheffler, magazine "Kunst und Künstler")
.

The work is subject to ongoing research. The information is constantly updated.

PROVENANCE: Max Glaeser Collection (1871-1931), Kaiserslautern-Eselsfürth (presumbaly acquired in the art trade between 1928 and 1931).
Anna Glaeser Collection, née Opp (1864-1944), Kaiserslautern-Eselsfürth (inherited from the above in 1931).
Private collection Baden-Württemberg (acquired from the above's legal estate in 1944, through the agency of Dr. Lilli Fischel and Galerie Günther Franke, Munich).
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION: Brücke, Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin, April 2 - 24, 1912.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Gemälde, Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer, Berlin, from November 15, 1923.

LITERATURE: Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Mit einem kritischen Katalog sämtlicher Gemälde, Munich/Cambridge (Mass.) 1968, no. 196 (titled "Steptanz", illu. in black and white, p. 302).
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Karl Scheffler, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, in: Kunst und Künstler. Illustrierte Monatsschrift für bildende Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, no. XVIII/5, issue 5, 1920, p. 219 (illustrated in black and white, p. 219).
Johanna Brade, Die Zirkus- und Variétébilder der "Brücke (1905-1913): Zwischen Bildexperiment und Gesellschaftskritik. Zu Themenwahl und Motivgestaltung (diss.), Berlin 1993, cat. no. 75.
Roland Scotti (ed.), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Das fotografische Werk, Wabern/Bern 2005, p. 118.
Lothar Grisebach (ed.), Ernst Ludwig Kirchners Davoser Tagebuch, Ostfildern 1997, p. 339 (photograph).
Hans Delfs (ed.), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Der Gesamte Briefwechsel ("Die absolute Wahrheit, so wie ich sie fühle"), Zürich 2010, no. 1193 and 1440 (mismatched).
Thorsten Sadowsky (Hrsg.), Louis de Marsalle. Visite à Davos, Heidelberg 2018 (illustrated in black and white, p. 11, no. 2).
Thorsten Sadowsky, 'Und der Bauchtanz ging den ganzen Vormittag'. Ernst Ludwig Kirchners Davoser Tänze, in: KirchnerHAUS Aschaffenburg / Brigitte Schad (ed.), ex. cat. Kirchners Kosmos: Der Tanz, KirchnerHAUS Aschaffenburg, Munich 2018, p. 41 (titled "Stepptanz", illustrated in black and white, p. 42, no. 4).

ARCHIVE MATERIAL: Estate of Donald E. Gordon, University of Pittsburgh, Gordon Papers, Series 1, Subseries 1, Box 1, Folder 197.

If he had lived later, he probably would have painted the miracle dancer Michael Jackson, too. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner loved the circus and cabaret shows, visited Gret Palucca’s and Mary Wigman’s studios and learned about Josefine Baker's "Revue Nègre" guest performance in Berlin, and was fascinated with dance.

The painting "Tanz im Varieté" has literally been waiting for its entrance on the stage behind the curtain of art history for almost 100 years. Kirchner had shot several photos of the picture, of which the earliest documents a ‘Brücke’ exhibition at the Berlin gallery of Fritz Gurlitt in the spring of 1912. The camera guides the view through a monumental portal flanked by two wooden Kirchner sculptures on the right and left side, and puts full focus on the large "Tanzszene" right in the middle of the venue’s end wall. In 1920, Kirchner also made a later photograph at the request of the art critic Karl Scheffler, which was published alongside a Scheffler essay on Kirchner in the magazine "Kunst und Künstler". The last time that "Tanz im Varieté" was on public display was in an exhibition at Paul Cassirer in Berlin in late 1923. Shortly after, the painting disappeared from the scene. Its reappearance is a real sensation.

A series of preliminary works, associated motifs and drawings allow for cross-references to other paintings and provide clues to the context of its origin, the subject and the setting. What do we see? We see what was trending in European metropolises from 1900 on. In the foreground, we see a cakewalk scene between a black and a white dancer, accompanied by a group of other dancers. Since the turn of the century, stage performances of African-American artists had become increasingly common. They toured Europe and, dressed in elegant evening attire, incorporated the revealing ragtime rhythms of the cakewalk into the latest dance repertoire of the upper class.
The bodies are contoured with colored areas. A concentrated color scale of red and pink tones dominates. The contrast between dark and light skin is clearly emphasized, while the background suggests a cabaret setting in a winter garden with pastel green ornaments on a balustrade and a row of palm trees.

Modernity was born on the stages and in the streets. The combination of dignity and elegance, the refinement of fashion and the precision of accelerated dance movements lent people in the first decades of the 20th century an aura of status and aloofness. Hardly anyone perceived the cosmopolitan flair and the sophisticated coldness as subtly as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. He had no use for the motionless academy nudes and sought inspiration in encounters with people instead. In the fall of 1911, he moved his studio from Dresden to Berlin. Concepts of physicality, gender roles and cultures of motion were redefined on the capital's streets and squares, in its dance halls and theaters. A social and cultural revolution that Kirchner rendered in drawings and paintings. His pictures are descriptions of the present and sensitize the viewer to the imbalance of his figures in a striking manner. They express the unpromising nature of the glittering promises of happiness in a society in which the likelihood of failure becomes already evident in the dancers’ bodies.

"Tanz im Varieté" possesses a captivating charisma. It is a homage to the golden age of entertainers who, prior to World War I, sent audiences into ecstasy with their artful dance shows. The painting is one of the last works on the theme of circus and cabaret created in Dresden before the theater in the streets of Berlin caught Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's attention. [MP]



124000159
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Tanz im Varieté, 1911.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 2,000,000 - 3,000,000

 
$ 2,140,000 - 3,210,000

Information on buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation will be available four weeks before the auction.