As of May 15, 2024

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Lot 19
Tanz im Varieté, 1911
Oil on canvas

47.6 x 58.3 in (121.0 x 148.0 cm)

Lot 19
Tanz im Varieté, 1911
Oil on canvas
47.6 x 58.3 in (121.0 x 148.0 cm)

Estimate:
€ 2,000,000 - 3,000,000
Auction: 20 days

Ketterer Kunst GmbH & Co KG

City: Munich
Auction: Jun 07, 2024
Auction number: 550
Auction name: Evening Sale

Lot Details
Oil on canvas.121 x 148 cm.
The work is shown in the artist's photo album I (photo 171). [CH].

• Spectacular rediscovery: hidden in a German private collection for 80 years.
• Whereabouts and colors hitherto unknown: The work was only documented by the artist's black-and-white photographs.
• Three photos show the painting in Kirchner's house "In den Lärchen" in Davos.
• Shortly after its creation, it was part of the seminal "Brücke" exhibition at Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin (1912), the first and ultimately only "Brücke" group show in Berlin.
• Exceptionally large painting from the "Brücke" heyday.
• Iconic painting of a key subject in Kirchner's oeuvre: dance, circus and cabaret.
• As a pictorial account of a nightlife scene at a time of social upheaval, "Tanz im Varieté" embodies the essence of life in the modern city just as much as the famous Berlin street scenes that Kirchner created as of 1913.
The work is documented in the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern. Export of the work from Germany will be possible. We are grateful to Dr. Tessa Rosebrock, Kunstmuseum Basel, for her kind expert advice. We are grateful to the heirs of Max Glaeser for the kind support in conducting the research.
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). - - 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). Annemarie Dube-Heynig, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Postkarten und Briefe an Erich Heckel im Altonaer Museum in Hamburg, Cologne 1984, p. 252 (with the title “Steptanz”, illu. in b/w). Johanna Brade, Die Zirkus- und Variétébilder der "Brücke (1905-1913): Zwischen Bildexperiment und Gesellschaftskritik. Zu Themenwahl und Motivgestaltung (PhD thesis), 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 (ed.), ex. cat. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Der Künstler als Fotograf, Kirchner Museum Davos, November 22, 2015 - May 1, 2016, pp. 44, 66, 76, 82 and 150 (photographs). Thorsten Sadowsky (edg.), 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: Künzig, Dr. Brunner, Dr. Koehler Attorneys at Law, Mannheim (administration of the Glaeser estate): Offer of paintings from the Max Glaeser Collection, 1931, Archive of the Kunstmuseum Basel, shelfmark F 001.024.010.000: “Varietészene”. Galerie Buck, Mannheim: Offer of paintings by Arnold Böcklin, Lovis Corinth, Anselm Feuerbach, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Hans von Marées, Edvard Munch, Heinrich von Zügel, Max Glaeser Collection, 1932, Archive of the Kunstmuseum Basel, shelfmark F 001.025.002.000: “Variete” (sic). Düsseldorf Municipal Archives, inventory: 0-1-4 Düsseldorf Municipal Administration from 1933-2000 (old: inventory IV), offers and purchases, sign 3769.0000, fol. 175-177. 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 magic 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, with gifted bodies Körpern and black models. He invited the circus artists Milly and Sam to his Dresden studio, where they drank, dressed up, and practiced ragtime. His notebooks are full of swift scribbles and dance poses. These ecstatic accounts of movement would sometimes inspire his paintings years later, among them paintings such as "Russische Tänzerin", "Tanzpaar" and "Totentanz der Mary Wigman" - all three of them icons of Modernism. The painting has been considered lost for 100 years. Its reappearance is a sensation The painting "Tanz im Varieté" is a document of the fascination that dance exerted on Kirchner. However, it had been waiting for its entrance on the stage behind the curtain of art history for almost 100 years. Kirchner made - as far as we know - three photos of the painting. The first shot documents an exhibition of the “Brücke“ painters at the Berlin gallery of Fritz Gurlitt in the spring of 1912 (fig.). 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. A later photograph shows a jolly scene in the "Haus in den Lärchen" in Davos (fig.). A dancing farmers couple, the painter on the left, seemingly impassive, the painting "Tanz im Varieté" behind him, unframed, negligently mounted on the wall, partially covered by a reclining chair. The photo with the self-portrait dates from 1919. The third shot was made at the request of the art critic Karl Scheffler; it was published alongside a Scheffler essay on Kirchner’s nervous, highly intuitive working method in the art 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. Modernity was born on the stages and in the streets What do we see in the painting? Kirchner described the latest trend in major European cities around 1900, something that would cause real hype on dance floors. In the cone of the spotlight in the foreground, we see a cakewalk scene between a black dancer and a white dancer, surrounded by a group of other performers. Kirchner fills the body contours with colored areas. A dense palette of red and pink hues dominates. The contrast between dark and light skin is highlighted. A variety show setting can be seen in the background. Pastel green ornaments on a balustrade and a row of palm trees suggest a winter garden. "Tanz im Varieté" is characterized by an opulent charm. It is an homage to the Golden Age of entertainers, who sent audiences into ecstasy with their show dances before the First World War. The painting is one of the last works on the theme of the circus and cabaret that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner made in Dresden before he put increasing focus on the theater in the streets of Berlin. 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. 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 unpr
Brücke, Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin, April 2 - 24, 1912. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Gemälde, Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer, Berlin, from November 15, 1923 (titled "Stepptanz“)
Artist's studio, Davos (until at least late 1923). Max Glaeser Collection (1871-1931), Kaiserslautern-Eselsfürth (presumably acquired from an art dealer 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
One has to imagine theaters in the early 20th century as vibrant entertainment machines, a kind of 'total theater' for a mass society in search of unsacred miracles. The audience in the German Empire craved sensations, and show stars of international fame. In Dresden, the Central-Theater, the Flora-Varieté with its summer stage in the garden of the Hotel Hammer (fig.), and the Circus Albert Schumann were among the top venues for high-octane acrobatics, magic tricks, and glamour. Sarah Bernhardt, Harry Houdini and Eleonora Duse had shows in Dresden. Companies from India, China, and the USA performed at the dance venues. The world came to visit. The famous line from André Heller's album "Nr.1" comes to mind: "People everywhere carry a circus beneath their hearts, one with real tightrope walkers ...". For Kirchner and his painter friend Erich Heckel, the spot below their hearts must have been the size of a circus ring. Between 1908 and 1914, they drew, painted, and printed hundreds of sheets with motifs from circuses, fairgrounds, and cabarets. The Cakewalk One of the most popular types of dance in these years was the cakewalk, which can be traced back to slavery. Originally, it was African Americans mocking the dances of their white masters in competitions. The winning couple received a cake as a prize, hence the name: cakewalk. The dance migrated from the plantations to the stages of the Northern states, where it became popular with white people in blackface. Around the turn of the century, more and more African-American artists found their way onto the stages. They toured Europe, and with their performances of revealing ragtime rhythms in elegant evening apparel, they challenged the social dances of the bourgeois and aristocracy. The illustrated magazine "Elegante Welt" dedicated an extra "ball issue" to this trend and observed that the dances of the high society could no longer be distinguished from those of the demimonde (K. O. Ebner, Von der Quadrille zum "Turkey trot", in: Elegante Welt, 1912, issue 8, p. 16). Step-by-step instructions and dance schools democratized modern dance. Anyone could learn it, as it is a promenade dance in an open pose, individually and not following a specific pattern. A dance for everyone on both sides of the color lines. Cultures started to blend on German dance floors, too. Southern dance was a popular import from the USA. In October 1901, the New York dance couple Dora Dean and Charles Johnson arrived in Berlin and performed on the stage of the Wintergarten Theater on Friedrichstrasse. The Lousiana Amazon Guards performed their first show in Germany at Circus Schumann in December (cf. Rainer E. Lotz, The "Lousiana Troupes" in Europe, in: The Black Perspective in Music, Autumn, 1983, vol. 11, no. 2, page 135). The barefoot dancer Mildred Howard de Grey danced the first cakewalk in an encore in Dresden in 1903 (cf. Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, July 18, 1903). In Berlin, the frivolous performances of the danseuses and the suave chic of black figures in tailcoats and top hats became a stereotype with several second-level messages: their "real" black skin stands for a promise of authenticity, for an ecstatic, spontaneous lifestyle and a mixture of subordination and self-assertion. The polemical nature of the dance is retained as a subtext, for example when the cakewalk dancers bring the upright posture of classical dance into an oblique position accompanied by frivolous pelvic circles, wobbling knees, and feet that tap to the beat at the speed of lightning. "The cakewalk", writes historian Astrid Kusser, "marks the arrival of black culture in Europe" (Astrid Kusser, Arbeitsfreude und Tanzwut im (Post)-Fordismus, in: Body Politics 1 (2023), issue 1, p.47).
Condition report on request katalogisierung@kettererkunst.de
Lot Details
Oil on canvas.121 x 148 cm.
The work is shown in the artist's photo album I (photo 171). [CH].

• Spectacular rediscovery: hidden in a German private collection for 80 years.
• Whereabouts and colors hitherto unknown: The work was only documented by the artist's black-and-white photographs.
• Three photos show the painting in Kirchner's house "In den Lärchen" in Davos.
• Shortly after its creation, it was part of the seminal "Brücke" exhibition at Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt in Berlin (1912), the first and ultimately only "Brücke" group show in Berlin.
• Exceptionally large painting from the "Brücke" heyday.
• Iconic painting of a key subject in Kirchner's oeuvre: dance, circus and cabaret.
• As a pictorial account of a nightlife scene at a time of social upheaval, "Tanz im Varieté" embodies the essence of life in the modern city just as much as the famous Berlin street scenes that Kirchner created as of 1913.
The work is documented in the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern. Export of the work from Germany will be possible. We are grateful to Dr. Tessa Rosebrock, Kunstmuseum Basel, for her kind expert advice. We are grateful to the heirs of Max Glaeser for the kind support in conducting the research.
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). - - 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). Annemarie Dube-Heynig, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Postkarten und Briefe an Erich Heckel im Altonaer Museum in Hamburg, Cologne 1984, p. 252 (with the title “Steptanz”, illu. in b/w). Johanna Brade, Die Zirkus- und Variétébilder der "Brücke (1905-1913): Zwischen Bildexperiment und Gesellschaftskritik. Zu Themenwahl und Motivgestaltung (PhD thesis), 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 (ed.), ex. cat. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Der Künstler als Fotograf, Kirchner Museum Davos, November 22, 2015 - May 1, 2016, pp. 44, 66, 76, 82 and 150 (photographs). Thorsten Sadowsky (edg.), 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: Künzig, Dr. Brunner, Dr. Koehler Attorneys at Law, Mannheim (administration of the Glaeser estate): Offer of paintings from the Max Glaeser Collection, 1931, Archive of the Kunstmuseum Basel, shelfmark F 001.024.010.000: “Varietészene”. Galerie Buck, Mannheim: Offer of paintings by Arnold Böcklin, Lovis Corinth, Anselm Feuerbach, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Hans von Marées, Edvard Munch, Heinrich von Zügel, Max Glaeser Collection, 1932, Archive of the Kunstmuseum Basel, shelfmark F 001.025.002.000: “Variete” (sic). Düsseldorf Municipal Archives, inventory: 0-1-4 Düsseldorf Municipal Administration from 1933-2000 (old: inventory IV), offers and purchases, sign 3769.0000, fol. 175-177. 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 magic 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, with gifted bodies Körpern and black models. He invited the circus artists Milly and Sam to his Dresden studio, where they drank, dressed up, and practiced ragtime. His notebooks are full of swift scribbles and dance poses. These ecstatic accounts of movement would sometimes inspire his paintings years later, among them paintings such as "Russische Tänzerin", "Tanzpaar" and "Totentanz der Mary Wigman" - all three of them icons of Modernism. The painting has been considered lost for 100 years. Its reappearance is a sensation The painting "Tanz im Varieté" is a document of the fascination that dance exerted on Kirchner. However, it had been waiting for its entrance on the stage behind the curtain of art history for almost 100 years. Kirchner made - as far as we know - three photos of the painting. The first shot documents an exhibition of the “Brücke“ painters at the Berlin gallery of Fritz Gurlitt in the spring of 1912 (fig.). 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. A later photograph shows a jolly scene in the "Haus in den Lärchen" in Davos (fig.). A dancing farmers couple, the painter on the left, seemingly impassive, the painting "Tanz im Varieté" behind him, unframed, negligently mounted on the wall, partially covered by a reclining chair. The photo with the self-portrait dates from 1919. The third shot was made at the request of the art critic Karl Scheffler; it was published alongside a Scheffler essay on Kirchner’s nervous, highly intuitive working method in the art 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. Modernity was born on the stages and in the streets What do we see in the painting? Kirchner described the latest trend in major European cities around 1900, something that would cause real hype on dance floors. In the cone of the spotlight in the foreground, we see a cakewalk scene between a black dancer and a white dancer, surrounded by a group of other performers. Kirchner fills the body contours with colored areas. A dense palette of red and pink hues dominates. The contrast between dark and light skin is highlighted. A variety show setting can be seen in the background. Pastel green ornaments on a balustrade and a row of palm trees suggest a winter garden. "Tanz im Varieté" is characterized by an opulent charm. It is an homage to the Golden Age of entertainers, who sent audiences into ecstasy with their show dances before the First World War. The painting is one of the last works on the theme of the circus and cabaret that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner made in Dresden before he put increasing focus on the theater in the streets of Berlin. 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. 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 unpr
Brücke, Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin, April 2 - 24, 1912. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Gemälde, Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer, Berlin, from November 15, 1923 (titled "Stepptanz“)
Artist's studio, Davos (until at least late 1923). Max Glaeser Collection (1871-1931), Kaiserslautern-Eselsfürth (presumably acquired from an art dealer 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
One has to imagine theaters in the early 20th century as vibrant entertainment machines, a kind of 'total theater' for a mass society in search of unsacred miracles. The audience in the German Empire craved sensations, and show stars of international fame. In Dresden, the Central-Theater, the Flora-Varieté with its summer stage in the garden of the Hotel Hammer (fig.), and the Circus Albert Schumann were among the top venues for high-octane acrobatics, magic tricks, and glamour. Sarah Bernhardt, Harry Houdini and Eleonora Duse had shows in Dresden. Companies from India, China, and the USA performed at the dance venues. The world came to visit. The famous line from André Heller's album "Nr.1" comes to mind: "People everywhere carry a circus beneath their hearts, one with real tightrope walkers ...". For Kirchner and his painter friend Erich Heckel, the spot below their hearts must have been the size of a circus ring. Between 1908 and 1914, they drew, painted, and printed hundreds of sheets with motifs from circuses, fairgrounds, and cabarets. The Cakewalk One of the most popular types of dance in these years was the cakewalk, which can be traced back to slavery. Originally, it was African Americans mocking the dances of their white masters in competitions. The winning couple received a cake as a prize, hence the name: cakewalk. The dance migrated from the plantations to the stages of the Northern states, where it became popular with white people in blackface. Around the turn of the century, more and more African-American artists found their way onto the stages. They toured Europe, and with their performances of revealing ragtime rhythms in elegant evening apparel, they challenged the social dances of the bourgeois and aristocracy. The illustrated magazine "Elegante Welt" dedicated an extra "ball issue" to this trend and observed that the dances of the high society could no longer be distinguished from those of the demimonde (K. O. Ebner, Von der Quadrille zum "Turkey trot", in: Elegante Welt, 1912, issue 8, p. 16). Step-by-step instructions and dance schools democratized modern dance. Anyone could learn it, as it is a promenade dance in an open pose, individually and not following a specific pattern. A dance for everyone on both sides of the color lines. Cultures started to blend on German dance floors, too. Southern dance was a popular import from the USA. In October 1901, the New York dance couple Dora Dean and Charles Johnson arrived in Berlin and performed on the stage of the Wintergarten Theater on Friedrichstrasse. The Lousiana Amazon Guards performed their first show in Germany at Circus Schumann in December (cf. Rainer E. Lotz, The "Lousiana Troupes" in Europe, in: The Black Perspective in Music, Autumn, 1983, vol. 11, no. 2, page 135). The barefoot dancer Mildred Howard de Grey danced the first cakewalk in an encore in Dresden in 1903 (cf. Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, July 18, 1903). In Berlin, the frivolous performances of the danseuses and the suave chic of black figures in tailcoats and top hats became a stereotype with several second-level messages: their "real" black skin stands for a promise of authenticity, for an ecstatic, spontaneous lifestyle and a mixture of subordination and self-assertion. The polemical nature of the dance is retained as a subtext, for example when the cakewalk dancers bring the upright posture of classical dance into an oblique position accompanied by frivolous pelvic circles, wobbling knees, and feet that tap to the beat at the speed of lightning. "The cakewalk", writes historian Astrid Kusser, "marks the arrival of black culture in Europe" (Astrid Kusser, Arbeitsfreude und Tanzwut im (Post)-Fordismus, in: Body Politics 1 (2023), issue 1, p.47).
Condition report on request katalogisierung@kettererkunst.de

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