A private collection of around 1,000 works of German Expressionism will be sold by Ketterer Kunst over the next four years, the Munich-based auction house has announced. The proceeds will benefit three charitable organisations.
Hermann Gerlinger, who is 90, began acquiring works by the Brücke artists in the 1950s and his collection is now one of the biggest in the world. The works include paintings, drawings, watercolours, woodcuts, lithographs and sculptures. The focus is on the founders of the group—Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl—and the collection encompasses both early and late works. Among the highlights is the 1910 Kirchner painting Blue Girl in the Sun.
Over the past 30 years, Gerlinger’s collection has been on permanent loan to three different museums—most recently to the Buchheim Museum in Bernried, Bavaria. That loan agreement was cancelled in September 2021, although Gerlinger lent 14 paintings back to the museum for an exhibition that runs until November this year.
“The time has come to make the works available to the next generation of collectors,” Gerlinger said in a press statement issued by Ketterer Kunst. “If the younger generation can live with the works, then it will find its own approach to the Brücke artists and their art.”
Ketterer Kunst says it expects the collection to fetch “a figure in the two-digit millions”. The first tranche will be auctioned in June. The organisations to benefit from the sale are the German Heritage Protection Foundation, the conservation charity BUND, and the Juliusspital Foundation in Würzburg.
“Young art lovers are particularly drawn to Expressionism,” says Robert Ketterer, the owner of the auction house. “Professor Gerlinger is giving the next generation of collectors a unique opportunity with this spectacular decision.”