'Most important gift in recent decades': trove of works by Kandinsky, Otto Dix and Max Ernst donated to Städel Museum in Frankfurt

The bequest from the estate of the German photographer Ulrike Crespo includes 90 works and will go on show in November.

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Wassily Kandinsky' Kallmünz–Hellgrüne Berge (1903). Photo: Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

Wassily Kandinsky' Kallmünz–Hellgrüne Berge (1903). Photo: Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

The Frankfurt photographer, philanthropist and psychotherapist Ulrike Crespo, who died in 2019, bequeathed 90 paintings and works on paper by artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Otto Dix, Max Ernst and Fernand Léger to the Städel Museum—one of the most important gifts of recent decades, according to the museum’s announcement today.

The Städel plans to exhibit selected works from the collection in an exhibition opening on 24 November that runs until 6 March 2022. Among the key works in the bequest is Oskar Schlemmer’s 1931 watercolour, Bauhaus Stairway, the 1932 oil painting Schlemmer produced with the same title is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). Other highlights include an early oil landscape by Kandinsky titled Kallmünz—Light Green Mountains (1903), and a 1927 surrealist Ernst painting, Grätenwald.

Max Ernst's Grätenwald (1927)

Crespo set up a foundation in 2001 to fund projects to support socially disadvantaged people and to promote education and creativity. She also collected contemporary art. She inherited the works bequeathed to the Städel from her grandfather, Karl Ströher, who collected Modernist art after the Second World War.

Other artists whose works feature in the bequest are Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, László Moholy-Nagy, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, Jean Dubuffet, Gustav Klimt and Paula Modersohn-Becker.

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