Sale: 530 / Evening Sale / The Hermann Gerlinger Collection, June 10. 2022 in Munich Lot 41

 

41
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ringer, 1923.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 400,000 / $ 416,000
Sold:
€ 500,000 / $ 520.000

(incl. surcharge)
Ringer. 1923.
Oil on canvas.
Gordon 748. Lower left signed. 70.5 x 90 cm (27.7 x 35.4 in).
The work is depicted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's "Photoalbum III" as photo no. 273, dated 1923.
• Particularly dynamic and expressive composition of a multi-figure sports scene in strong colors.
• Motion as a form of expression is a sort of leitmotif in Kirchner's oeuvre.
• Kirchner found inspiration from life and experience: The year this work was made, the so-called 'Schwingfest' (Swiss wrestling event) took place in Sertig near Davos for the first time.
• The tailor Johannes Matter acquired the painting during Kirchner's lifetime. The artist mentioned him in, among others, letters to Helene Spengler (1919) and Gustav Schiefler (1928)
.

The work is documented at the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern.

PROVENANCE: Collection Johannes Matter (1873-1942), Davos.
Collection Hans Haltinner, Schüpfen/Switzerland.
Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Würzburg (with the collector stamp, acquired from the above in 1969: Kornfeld & Klipstein, June 12, 1969).

EXHIBITION: 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).
Kraft des Aufbruchs (permanent exhibition of Collection Hermann Gerlinger), Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle (Saale), 2015-2017.
Buchheim Museum, Bernried (permanent loan from Collection Hermann Gerlinger, 2017-2022).

LITERATURE: Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Mit einem kritischen Katalog sämtlicher Gemälde, München/Cambridge (Mass.) 1968, cat. no. 748, pp. 127, 382 (with illu.).
Kornfeld und Klipstein, Bern, 132nd auction, Modern Art, June 12, 1969, lot 610 (with illu., plate 47).
Hanswernfried Muth, Die städtische Galerie Würzburg, in: Würzburger Adressbuch 1973 (with illu.).
Heinz Spielmann (editor), Die Maler der Brücke. Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Stuttgart 1995, p. 274, SHG no. 401 (with illu.).
Hermann Gerlinger, Katja Schneider (editor), Die Maler der Brücke. Inventory catalog Collection Hermann Gerlinger, Halle (Saale) 2005, p. 353, SHG no. 789 (with illu.).
Hans Delfs, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Der gesamte Briefwechsel - "Die absolute Wahrheit, so wie ich sie fühle", Zürich 2010, no. 2034 and no. 2062.
Brückenschlag: Gerlinger - Buchheim! Museumsführer durch die "Brücke"-Sammlungen von Hermann Gerlinger und Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Feldafing 2017, p. 330 (with illu. on p. 331).

"[.] the feeling that we all share, to find inspiration in life and to be subordinate to the experience."

E. L. Kirchner in the "Brücke" chronic from 1913, quoted from: Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Nachzeichnung seines Lebens, Bern 1979, p. 43.

Schwingen (Wrestling). A Swiss national sport
With the work offered here, Kirchner followed the credo in the "Brücke" chronicle from 1913, "to take the stimulus to create from life and to subordinate oneself to experience." (quoted from: Magdalena M. Moeller, in: E. L. Kirchner. The "Straßenszenen" 1913-1915, Munich 1993, p. 31). It shows a scene from a traditional Swiss wrestling festival. The so-called “Schwingen“ is a variant of freestyle wrestling, which is particularly popular in German-speaking Switzerland, in which the competitors try to throw their opponents to the ground with 'swings', targeted movement sequences with grips on the opponent's trousers. During the competitions, the wrestlers actually wear special, particularly heavy duty shorts over their clothing, which Kirchner - with artistic freedom - completely ignored in favor of a clearer, reduced representation of the figures, and instead only shows the wrestlers in tight-fitting sportswear resembling wrestling suits. The competitions are held on a circular area padded with sawdust and take place between early summer and autumn within regional and cantonal wrestling festivals, which are usually held annually. In Kirchner's painting, the current summer season is suggested in the lush green of the grass and in the light clothing of the depicted persons. Among the participants, a general distinction is made between the 'Sennenschwinger', members of pure wrestling clubs, and the 'Turnerschwinger' from gymnastics clubs, who also practice other sports in their respective clubs and who can be identified by their all white wrestling clothing, long white trousers and a white top. The competitor who is finally crowned king of wrestling traditionally receives a living prize, often a cow. The popular tradition of wrestling has existed for several hundred years and is still considered a Swiss national sport.
In Davos, the wrestling festivals have been held regularly since 1881 at the end of July, on the so-called 'Heuersonntag'. In 1912 the wrestling association of the Davos region was founded and in 1923 - the year our painting was created - the first official wrestling festival was held under the name 'Sertig-Schwinget', an important regional event which Kirchner may well have attended as visitor.

Artistic change and personal new beginning. Kirchner's Davos creative period
Kirchner's move to Switzerland not only entailed major private changes, but of course also had an enormous impact on his entire artistic work. From the noisy, hectic city with its diverse cultural and social leisure opportunities and exciting nightlife, the artist now found himself in a rural setting in the Swiss mountains. A major change and a turning point in his life, which of course not only affected his personal well-being, but also brought about significant changes in the subject matter and ultimately also had an impact on the style of his artistic work. The 1920s saw the end of the 'edgy', hard-edged style of his Berlin days. Kirchner found his way to a much more structured, two-dimensional style of painting and his very own form of abstraction and simplification. In terms of motifs and form, an enormous artistic diversity unfolded in his works, which is also impressively documented in our painting "Ringer". Kirchner creates a particularly lively composition here, with which he succeeds to translate the highly dynamic social event into a two-dimensional, very personal formal language that once again identifies him as one of the most important German Expressionists. Kirchner designs the performance like the stage design and the choreography of a play. In the foreground he puts the Schwinger, bursting with power and sporting a fashionable mustache, while in the background, below several prominently placed Swiss flags, he depicts a crowd of spectators facing us as staffage and extras. Between foreground and background, other athletes dressed in white, relaxing on the grass, take on supporting roles. Confidently and with broad brushstrokes, Kirchner distributes the strong, colorful colors across the canvas, plays with complementary and cold-warm contrasts, leaves little room for small details and focuses on the intertwined bodies and movement sequences of the competing protagonists within the sporting scene that fills the entire screen and tells a lot about Kirchner's diverse creative powers during these important years in Davos.

A picture with German-Swiss provenance
The painting offered here, with its typically Swiss subject, remained in Swiss private collections for decades before it entered the Hermann Gerlinger Collection in the 1980s. At first it belonged to the older tailor Johann Matter (1873-1942) from Davos, who was well acquainted with Kirchner. "An old tailor who has retired is often with us now. He is an art lover and collects pictures. He shows us again that a love of art does not require any prior training, but a mental attitude [..]. The man is strange and lonely among his peers, because he has intellectual interests that make the others laugh. Through him I get an idea of the life of a craftsman, which is very interesting, because he speaks freely about his life. The beginning of intellectual life for most people is curiosity is in a good sense, it turns into thirst for knowledge and leads to a deeper occupation." (Letter to Gustav Schiefler, October 28, 1928, quoted from: Wolfgang Henze, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Gustav Schiefler. Briefwechsel 1910-1935/1938, Stuttgart 1990, p. 570). In the late 20th century, the painting finally found its way into Hermann Gerlinger's important collection of Expressionism, in which it occupied an important position as a striking example of Kirchner's strong artistic creative phase in Davos, well before the flat-abstract figuration and the so-called 'carpet style' of his late work began to play an important place. [CH]



41
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ringer, 1923.
Oil on canvas
Estimate:
€ 400,000 / $ 416,000
Sold:
€ 500,000 / $ 520.000

(incl. surcharge)